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Officer disciplined after armed police raid wrong address

A PSNI officer has been disciplined after armed police mistakenly searched the home of an innocent man.

Police with shields and firearms went to the wrong address and arrested the man in front of his hysterical wife, the Police Ombudsman's Office has said.

The officers were deployed to the wrong address at a family home in Co Down last year.

In a complaint to the Police Ombudsman, the arrested man said he arrived home to find officers in his garden.

He said he was searched and made to wait while armed police with shields and firearms moved towards the house. He added that his wife was in the garden at the time and was hysterical.

The man was then taken inside his house and arrested in connection with a firearms offence which had happened the previous day, before being taken into custody at a local police station.

He was released when police realised he was not the person they were looking for.

Following his release the man lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman's Office, stating that he had been wrongfully arrested and that his home had been unlawfully searched.

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman found that the error was due to an incorrectly recorded date of birth in a handover information pack provided to the officer who organised the search.

The officer who compiled the pack had recorded the name and address of another man of the same name, but mistakenly added the complainant's date of birth.

According to a Police Ombudsman investigator, the officer who co-ordinated the search said she checked the details in the handover pack, but found no one of that name living at the address.

She then searched for a more up-to-date address using the complainant's name and date of birth, which resulted in his arrest and home being searched.

The officer who recorded the wrong date of birth admitted his mistake and apologised to the complainant and his family.

Police later tracked down and arrested the right man.

The Police Ombudsman investigator said: "The mistake had unfortunate consequences for the man and his family. I recommended that the officer should receive a disciplinary sanction, and that has since been imposed by the police."

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