Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland pub assault probe rigorous, rules Police Ombudsman

By Staff Reporter

The Police Ombudsman has praised a PSNI probe into a serious assault after the victim complained about the quality of the investigation.

The man sustained fractures to his skull, cheek and nose as well as bleeding on the brain when he and a friend were assaulted outside a bar in south Down in July 2015.

Although two men have since received suspended prison sentences after being convicted of common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, in the wake of the attack the victim was concerned about the quality of the police investigation.

The victim complained to the Police Ombudsman that officers had failed to seize his clothes as evidence, and that he had not been advised to keep the clothing, which had since been disposed of.

However, when contacted by an Ombudsman investigator, the officer who had been first to arrive at the incident said the clothing would have added nothing to the investigation.

She said the victim of the assault had been in the company of the suspects earlier in the evening, so further evidence of contact between the parties would not have assisted the case.

She added that her first priority after arriving at the scene had been to provide first aid and request medical assistance. She then sought witnesses and established the identities of the suspects and their vehicle.

These details were circulated on police radio, which led to the car being stopped and an arrest being made. The other suspect was arrested later.

The car was stopped a few minutes after the response officer was due to finish her shift. However, she stayed on duty to arrange for the vehicle to be forensically examined, to update police records and to prepare a handover pack with notes for interviews.

The officer added that she had ensured that the suspect's clothing was seized as the victim had been bleeding and any evidence of blood on the suspect's clothing would assist the investigation.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said: "This was a challenging incident for the officer, but enquiries have shown that the she dealt with it in a calm, effective and carefully considered way which has since helped bring the perpetrators to justice."

Enquiries also found that in the days after the attack both the officer, and subsequently the Criminal Investigations Department, had provided the man and his family with appropriate updates on the progress of the investigation and forthcoming court dates.

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