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Police officer and ex-civilian detention officer to face custody death charge

Published 10/05/2016

A police sergeant will be charged in connection with the death of a man in custody
A police sergeant will be charged in connection with the death of a man in custody

A police officer and former civilian detention officer are to be charged in connection with the death of a man in custody.

David McGowan, 28, from Lisburn, was found unresponsive in a cell in the city's police station in the early hours of May 30 2014. He had earlier been arrested after an incident in east Belfast.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said the two men would be charged with gross negligence manslaughter. The charge, relating to an alleged breach of duty of care, follows a review of the circumstances of Mr McGowan's death by the Police Ombudsman.

A PPS spokeswoman said: "After a careful consideration of all the available evidence in the case, it has been decided to prosecute two men, one of whom is a police sergeant and the other was a civilian detention officer, for the offences of gross negligence manslaughter and misconduct in public office.

"Criminal proceedings have now commenced and those involved have a right to a fair trial."

Lawyers for the McGowan family said: "Although the family welcome the decision, they are still cautious as they recognise it will take some time to reach the final conclusion, however we are all quietly confident justice will prevail."

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "Firstly I would like to acknowledge how difficult a time this has been for the McGowan family following the death of David on 30 May 2014. This is a tragedy for David's family and we offer them our ongoing sympathy and condolences. I recognise this is another difficult day for them.

"The PPS have now made a direction in relation to this case and we will continue to co-operate with them over the coming months.

"I can confirm that one police officer has been suspended from duty in respect of these matters. A second person who was employed by our managed service provider is no longer working in the PSNI.

"As formal legal proceedings are now under way I cannot comment any further."

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