Belfast Telegraph

Officer disciplined after basic failure to investigate mugging

By Staff Reporter

A PSNI officer has been disciplined after an investigation by the Police Ombudsman found he had failed to undertake "even the most basic of steps" to investigate a mugging in the Greater Belfast area.

Inquiries showed that the investigating officer failed to examine CCTV footage, made no attempt to interview named witnesses and did not respond to phone calls from the victim or a letter from his solicitor.

The victim of the 2015 attack was beaten and robbed by a number of men.

Police spoke to the victim on the night of the attack, before an ambulance took him to hospital for treatment.

However, he said it took three weeks and several calls to police before he could make arrangements for a statement to be taken from him.

After that, he said he heard nothing more from police for a year and a half, despite leaving a number of messages for the investigating officer.

Even when his solicitor wrote a letter to the officer, he said he received no response.

The matter was reported to the Police Ombudsman, Michael Maguire. Inquiries by an investigator for the Ombudsman found that the police officer originally appointed to investigate the case went on sick leave shortly after the incident.

A new investigator was appointed and he took a statement from the victim three weeks after the attack.

When interviewed, this officer said he had been provided only with descriptions of the attackers and had not been directed by his supervisor to obtain CCTV.

He identified no other lines of inquiry and said the case was closed pending further evidence.

The Ombudsman investigator noted: "It should have been obvious to the officer that witness and CCTV inquiries needed to be made. If the officer had interviewed the witnesses, this may have led to new lines of inquiry.

"The victim also stated that he had identified his attackers on Facebook.

"Although he was mistaken that he had included this information in his statement to police, as the investigating officer failed to return his calls, this potentially very significant information was never investigated."

The police have since implemented a recommendation that the officer should be disciplined.

Although failures were also identified in the supervision of the case, no disciplinary action could be taken against any individual officer as a number had performed the role and it was not clear who had been responsible at the relevant time.

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