Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Man cleared of fraud claims cop who arrested him was bribed

High Court: Martin Byrne is seeking to judicially review the Police Ombudsman's office
High Court: Martin Byrne is seeking to judicially review the Police Ombudsman's office

A man cleared of fraud charges allegedly witnessed a police officer involved in his case accepting a bribe, the High Court heard today.

Martin Byrne's life was "ruined" by being arrested and put through criminal proceedings after claiming a cash handover had occurred, his lawyer said.

Mr Byrne is seeking to judicially review the Police Ombudsman's office over its alleged continuing failure to investigate his complaint.

Although a grievance was first raised seven years ago, it was put on hold when charges were brought against him.

Cars and other personal belongings were seized from his house as part of the police inquiry, according to his complaints.

He was acquitted of all alleged offences at Antrim Crown Court in 2011, with the trial judge said to have expressed concerns about the behaviour of the investigating police officer.

Mr Byrne's barrister, Michael Lavery, said today: "His complaint was about a chain of events that followed his making a complaint about a police officer accepting a bribe, which resulted in him being arrested, charged with fraud and his life effectively put on hold, ruined he would say."

He disputed a claim that the case should be ruled out due to time limits, arguing that it was part of an ongoing issue first raised in 2006.

But Stephen McQuitty, for the Police Ombudsman, contended that the case should be thrown out due to the delay in issuing proceedings after the decision not to investigate further was taken.

Mr McQuitty also questioned how Mr Byrne, who has no criminal record, can now give more information about the allegation.

"In 2007 the applicant was not able to identify the officer or give any accurate details," he said.

"But then some years later, in November 2011, he's able to say the officer's name, able to say the amount, and able to say where the transaction took place.

"It raises some doubts about the applicant's candour, we say."

Mr Justice Treacy adjourned the case to allow more details on the complaints to be produced.

He is expected to decide whether to grant leave to seek a judicial review in two weeks time.

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