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My brother would still be alive had the PSNI and City Hospital done their jobs properly

Fury after inquest finds failings in search that ended in rail line tragedy

By Cate McCurry

Published 14/05/2016

Jonathan’s mother Maureen Smith and sister Julie Magee holding his photograph outside court
Jonathan’s mother Maureen Smith and sister Julie Magee holding his photograph outside court

The family of a man who died when he was hit by a train after going missing have claimed that if police had followed procedures correctly he would still be alive today.

Julie Magee's brother Jonathan (29) was killed near Lisburn in January 2011.

The four-day inquest into his death revealed major flaws in the PSNI's investigation into his disappearance from the accident and emergency department at Belfast City Hospital.

One of the failings highlighted was the initial missing report made by hospital staff to police in which relevant details were not requested by the officer.

Ms Magee claimed that the PSNI did not take the initial and further reports of his disappearance seriously.

"If police had looked for him earlier he would still be alive today," she said.

"If he got the right treatment from the hospital and he was admitted to the hospital right away, then he wouldn't have walked out.

"There were so many flaws in the police investigations, and the hospital system failed my brother.

"I just miss him very much and it's the way he died and all the failings, it's so sad. I just hope it doesn't happen to another family."

Ms Magee has called for the Belfast Trust to publicly apologise to her heartbroken family for its failure to meet the needs of her brother, who vanished after he waited more than seven hours for a psychiatric assessment.

"My brother was seeking help in the days before he died.

"He asked to be sectioned and he never got what he was looking for and that's why he walked out of hospital twice," she added.

"I don't think that the hospital staff did their jobs efficiently.

"If they did their job right they would have stopped him from leaving."

His mother Maureen Smith said she was devastated to learn that police had made a number of mistakes.

"I don't think it has hit me yet, to be honest. He used to love Sunday dinners, he used to love my gravy, and I'll miss the simple things," she said.

A number of recommendations were made in light of the health trust's serious adverse incident review into Mr Magee's death.

His sister, who is now a member of Belfast Mental Health Rights Group, has been campaigning to have those recommendations implemented.

The Police Ombudsman review also made a number of recommendations into how the PSNI deal with missing person cases.

The police data recording system (NICHE) is now the only system used to collate information on missing people.

All investigating officers now have access to this material.

Further to this, missing persons' investigations are monitored at a senior level within policing districts on a daily basis.

The Magee family have been invited by the police to view the new system.

"The changes will have a major impact on people who go missing; they will be faster and police will know what to do," Julie added.

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