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Police officers disciplined over flawed investigation into 'engagement ring theft'

Published 18/02/2016

Two police officers have been disciplined over a flawed investigation into the suspected theft of an engagement ring at a Belfast gym.

The Police Ombudsman's Office launched an investigation after the ring's owner complained that the investigating police officer had failed to seize CCTV footage and had not personally contacted a potential suspect.

The woman said she had left the ring sitting on a bench but realised when she got to her car that it wasn't on her finger. When she went back to the changing room it had gone.

She reported the incident to police, and included the description of a possible suspect.

Subsequent enquiries by Police Ombudsman investigators found that the investigating police officer did not try to contact the potential suspect until more than five months later.

However, the officer said he had previously asked the gym manager to contact the woman and she had denied having seen the ring.

He accepted that it was his duty to make these enquiries himself and said he had tried to contact her from his work phone but had not been able to get through.

He had failed to take notes of these attempts to contact her.

However, phone records for the officer's extension showed that there had been no such calls prior to the first one he noted more than five months after the incident.

He also admitted that it was at least seven months after the incident before he tried to contact other potential witnesses.

Enquiries also established that while the officer had watched CCTV footage from the gym with the gym manager, he had not seized the footage. This was found to have had the potential to hinder future enquiries.

The officer was disciplined for these failings and his supervisor also received a sanction for failing to ensure that the investigation was properly supervised.

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