Belfast Telegraph

Cop disciplined for lying in court and copying statement

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

A police officer has been disciplined over claims that he lied in court.

The Police Ombudsman found the officer, who admitted difficulties with spelling and grammar, copied a colleague's statement for a court hearing three years ago.

Although he was not prosecuted, the officer, whose identity has not been disclosed, has been subject to internal disciplinary action and is to be offered guidance on preparing statements and giving evidence in court.

The watchdog launched its investigation after concerns were raised about the similarity of statements made by two police officers during a hearing at Enniskillen Magistrates' Court in April 2011. The case related to an incident a year earlier in April 2010.

It was referred to the ombudsman for independent investigation by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Investigators interviewed both PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) men.

Police Officer One's statement was dated April 16, 2010 and was drawn from contemporaneous notes. He told investigators he had typed it on to a blank template document on a police computer and emailed it to the person dealing with the incident.

The first time he heard his colleague's statement was in court, he said.

Police Officer Two's statement was dated a month later - May 17, 2010. He insisted he had told the truth in court but declined to answer any further questions.

It was established that Police Officer Two had viewed his colleague's statement at 4.44pm on April 29, 2010 and created a computer document containing much of what had been written at 6.21pm.

During later interviews, Officer Two revealed he had a problem with spelling and grammar and would often use old statements as templates. If he had not dealt with a particular incident previously, he would seek a statement from a colleague to use as a template, he said.

Although he accepted the ombudsman's findings that he must have seen his colleague's statement, the officer said he had no recollection of creating the computer document or of accessing a statement from anyone else.

He also said he was not aware of this when he gave evidence to the court.

In his findings, the police ombudsman concluded that Police Officer Two accessed his colleague's statement, copied and pasted it on to his document, and then altered the second page to reflect his own evidence.

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