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PSNI officers are disciplined over arson inquiry

By Rebecca Black

Two PSNI officers have been disciplined after a Police Ombudsman investigation found failings in a police investigation of an arson attack in Co Antrim in the summer of 2014.

The PONI investigation found that police failed to take statements from a number of potential witnesses and submitted an incomplete file on the case to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The issue came to light almost two years after the attack when these witnesses contacted the PPS for information. When they were told the case was shortly due to go to court, they contacted the PONI to complain that the file submitted by police to the PPS was incomplete. After examining police records a Police Ombudsman investigator alerted the PPS, which then directed the police to take witness statements, which were provided to the court as late evidence.

The man accused of the arson attack was convicted and received a suspended prison sentence.

Enquiries by the Police Ombudsman investigator found that one of the statements had not initially been supplied by police because the investigating police officer did not think it would contain relevant evidence.

The original investigating officer has since left the PSNI.

However, a supervisor who failed to direct him to take a statement from one of the witnesses, has been disciplined. The second investigating officer has also been disciplined for failing to conduct enquiries as directed by his supervisors.

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