Belfast Telegraph

Prison attack probe was botched, says Ombudsman

By Staff Reporter

A police officer has been ordered to apologise to a prison guard for failing to investigate an alleged assault by a prisoner within the legal time frame.

Delays in the police probe meant that the Public Prosecution Service was unable to take a case against the inmate.

The prison officer told police in February 2016 that an abusive inmate had attempted to punch him and then spat in his face.

Police launched an investigation but did not submit a file on the incident, or apply for more time, before the case became statute barred after six months.

Following a complaint, the Police Ombudsman found that the officer initially assigned to investigate went on a period of planned sick leave four months after the alleged attack.

Before then he had sent an email to his supervisor outlining the cases he was involved in, and actions needed to progress them in his absence. The email incorrectly stated that the case would not become statute barred until September, more than a month later than the actual date.

The officer was found to have failed to make proper CCTV inquiries, and did not make adequate efforts to interview the suspect.

When another officer tried to follow up on the case, he found that the case was already statute barred. It meant there could be no prosecution, nor could the prison authorities investigate.

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