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Officer disciplined for failing to properly investigate burglary

By Deborah McAleese

Published 24/07/2015

Malachi O'Doherty
Malachi O'Doherty

A police officer has been disciplined for not properly investigating a break-in at a woman's house.

The officer failed to seize potential evidence from CCTV cameras outside her home and the investigation had to be closed without any arrests made.

Following a complaint from the victim the Police Ombudsman launched a probe into the incident and found that the officer had failed in his duty to conduct the investigation in a prompt and thorough manner.

The Ombudsman's finding follows recent revelations by the Belfast Telegraph of two similar incidents in Belfast where officers failed to pursue evidence of break-ins.

In April a former policeman told this newspaper that two months after a creeper burglar was captured on camera outside his home, officers had still failed to act.

And writer Malachi O'Doherty received a personal apology from the PSNI after officers failed to pick up vital photographic evidence from him that showed a potential burglar fleeing from the scene of a theft.

In the case probed by the Police Ombudsman the victim said that the officer attended her home shortly after she discovered she had been broken into.

She told the officer that CCTV cameras covered the area and gave him the details of the caretaker for her apartment complex, who had the recording.

The woman advised the officer that the caretaker had told her he had viewed the footage and had spotted suspicious activity at the main entrance area around the time of the break-in.

She was concerned that the footage would be overwritten automatically after 21 days and the main piece of evidence could be lost.

Despite this, almost three weeks after the incident, the footage had still not been collected by police. The officer told the Ombudsman that he had made a number of phonecalls to the caretaker and called at the apartment complex on other occasions but found him difficult to get hold of.

When he eventually obtained the disc the relevant footage had been overwritten, as had been feared.

As a result the only remaining evidential opportunity had been lost, leaving the officer no option but to close the case.

Following the Ombudsman's findings the officer has been disciplined by the PSNI.

Belfast Telegraph

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