Family of man beaten to death slam probe into mix-up over 999 call that could have saved his life
Published 01/03/2014 | 01:30
The family of a man killed in what's thought to have been a homophobic attack have said they will "never know" if he would still be alive had a 999 call been handled "correctly" by police.
Andrew Lorimer's badly beaten body was only found when a burglar broke in to his Co Armagh flat two days after the fatal attack in February 2012.
Three men pleaded guilty to Mr Lorimer's manslaughter.
On the night of the attack a 999 call was made by a man who was later established to be involved in Mr Lorimer's killing.
The Chief Constable asked the Police Ombudsman to launch an investigation in to the call handler involved.
The investigation found that a police officer failed to provide police patrols with all relevant information from a 999 call, but that the failure did not contribute to the death of the Lurgan man.
The police officer has since been disciplined.
The family of Mr Lorimer expressed "deep disgust" at the "cloak and dagger" approach of the justice system.
A spokesperson said the family had learned of the findings by reading the local newspaper.
"It was with great distress that we learnt last night that a Police Ombudsman's investigation had been conducted into a PSNI call handler who failed to pass on all information from the 999 call," the spokesperson said.
"No one, either from the PSNI, the Department of Justice or the Police Ombudsman's Office even thought to let us, Andrew's family, know. This is both insensitive and uncaring.
"Whilst we learn from reading in our local newspaper that the Ombudsman's investigation has decided that the PSNI's negligence did not contribute to Andrew's death – how will we ever truly know?"
The family met with Justice Minister David Ford last week but were upset that he did not mention the investigation.
Mr Ford said: "I should make clear that the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (OPONI) carries out investigations independently of Govern- ment and there is no role for me in the investigative process."
He added: "The OPONI has acknowledged that they did not inform the family of Mr Lorimer of the investigation (as this was not a complaint but a referral from the Chief Constable)."
A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman apologised for the family not being informed and has arranged a meeting with them.
The PSNI said it is not in its responsibility to inform members of the public of a referral to the Ombudsman's Office.
On the night of Andrew Lorimer's attack a 999 call was made by a man who later was established to be one of the men involved in the killing. When requesting patrols to check the area, the police officer failed to advise them that the caller had referred to Portlec Place. Instead he asked them to check the area of the phone box used for the call, at nearby Russell Drive.