Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Police failed in their duty to family of missing boy who was later found drowned

Police failed to treat the disappearance of a “vulnerable” boy urgently and should have started looking for him more quickly, a Police Ombudsman’s report has found.

Nine officers have been disciplined over the search operation for the boy.

Enniskillen teenager, Daniel Mohan, drowned in April 2010 after going missing from his home.

The body of the 16-year-old, who had learning difficulties and showed signs of autism, was found in Lough Erne a week after he disappeared.

Daniel’s mother, Tracey McMulkin, expressed misgivings about the police investigation from the outset.

She and his father, Martin, vowed to “find out the truth” and made a formal complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office regarding alleged “police inaction, incivility and the conduct of the senior investigating officer and the family liaison officer”.

The Police Ombudsman launched an extensive investigation, which lasted over a year and a half and addressed a total of 17 complaints by the family.

That report was finalised last week and a summary of the findings revealed that the nine police officers, including duty inspectors and sergeants, “failed in their duty” to take adequate steps when investigating Daniel’s disappearance.

Ms McMulkin said that while she feels a sense of relief that the report is now complete, her pain continues. I had a feeling in my body that something was wrong, and I was right.

“People told me to let it go, they thought I was crazy, but it has been proven that nine police officers failed my child.

“I wonder how they sleep at night? None of them are thinking about, or crying over, a dead child. I hope they sleep easy because I can’t.

“They treated my Daniel like an animal — not a child that belonged to a mummy and daddy.

“He was a person who they considered a low risk from the start. I feel like my heart has been ripped out,” she said.

As a result of the investigation, a misconduct file was submitted to the Police Service of Northern Ireland concerning a number of misconduct issues.

In the file, the Police Ombudsman’s Office made disciplinary recommendations against the nine police officers, which were then acted upon by the PSNI.

These recommendations included a number of police officers involved in the investigation into Daniel’s disappearance undergoing dedicated missing person training to, according to the report, “ensure that similar incidents do not happen again”.

Ms McMulkin says her life and the lives of his father, Martin, and siblings Patrice and Darren, will never be the same again.

She told the Impartial Reporter newspaper that she thinks about her son “every hour of every day” and keeps a candle lit in his memory all the time.

No date for an inquest has yet been set.

Background

Sixteen-year-old Daniel Mohan from Enniskillen was due to visit a friend when he went missing on April 25, 2010. His body was found in Lough Erne five days later. The report found investigative and supervisory failings in the first 32 hours after Daniel |disappeared. The investigation was conducted after complaints from the teenager’s parents.

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