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Officer 'failed to probe claims'

Published 13/05/2015

The complainant contacted Police Ombudsman after a four-month delay
The complainant contacted Police Ombudsman after a four-month delay

A policeman failed to investigate an allegation of criminal damage against a retired officer in Northern Ireland, the Police Ombudsman said.

A van owner claimed his vehicle had been deliberately damaged by a motorist he had been "having difficulties" with for a number of years.

The victim said the alleged perpetrator parked beside the van and deliberately hit it with his car door in Co Derry.

The investigating officer did not take a statement immediately and after a four-month delay the van owner complained to the Ombudsman's office. The Ombudsman said the investigating officer was interviewed about the allegations by its investigators.

"He accepted that he had not contacted the complainant as promised and admitted that he had done nothing to investigate the case.

"He also admitted falsely recording on an official police record that 'both parties have been spoken to and advised accordingly regarding behaviour and no additional complaints or offences are revealed'."

He has been formally disciplined for failing to investigate an allegation of criminal damage and later falsely claiming to have taken steps to progress the case.

The officer tasked with investigating did not take a statement from the van driver right away but said he would come back to him after he had spoken to his sergeant to get some background to the case.

He was also alleged to have asked for some time to do this as he was going on a period of leave and night duty.

However, after almost four months and having had no response to a voicemail and two text messages - and after hearing that the case had been closed - the van owner made a complaint to the Ombudsman's office.

The Ombudsman said: " The officer regretted what had happened, and explained that an issue had affected his work performance at that time and had caused things to get on top of him.

"He also insisted it was the first time he had ever disposed of a case in that way."

The man alleged to have caused the damage was also spoken to by a Police Ombudsman investigator. He said he had been unaware of the allegations against him until he received a letter from the Ombudsman's office.

After the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) advised that the case did not reach the threshold for criminal proceedings, Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire concluded that the officer had committed a number of misconduct offences and recommended that he be disciplined.

The PSNI has implemented the recommendation.

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