Belfast Telegraph

Still on duty, officer who left gun in child’s bedroom

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

A police officer who left a gun in a child’s bedroom after a raid has not been suspended, the PSNI has confirmed.

An internal investigation was launched after the Belfast Telegraph revealed how the weapon — believed to be a standard issue Glock pistol — and gunbelt had been left in a house following a planned search operation.

Officers returned to the property in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast and retrieved the firearm after 20 minutes.

Sinn Fein Policing Board member Gerry Kelly has called for a “short, sharp” inquiry into the matter.

“I can't think of any reason why a gun would be set on the bed,” said the North Belfast MLA.

“I think basic training would dictate that a police officer would not lose sight of their weapon, except if they were off duty.”

The search on Tuesday took place at the home of Eddie Campbell, who is an election agent with the Irish Republican Socialist Party.

The gun and belt, which also included a baton, CS spray and handcuffs, was found lying on the bed belonging to Mr Campbell’s nine-year-old daughter.

A 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of dissident republican activity and a number of items including IRSP literature were removed for further examination during the raid.

Ulster Unionist Ross Hussey, who also sits on the Policing Board, said the officer’s carelessness was “unacceptable”.

“While I understand that house raids are extremely intense, it is unacceptable that an officer has been so careless with his firearm and ammunition,” he said. “Given that the raid the officer had taken part in was part of an investigation into dissident republican activity, it makes such carelessness all the more unsettling.

“I will be asking the Chief Constable to keep us informed on the progress of this case.”

Yesterday, the PSNI said it was treating the matter “very seriously”.

In a statement last night a spokesman said: “No officer has been suspended and the inquiry is ongoing.”

Meanwhile, the DUP’s Ian McCrea described the incident as “deeply worrying”.

Background

Police investigating dissident republican activity raided the home of a senior IRSP figure in north Belfast on Tuesday. They left after making an arrest but returned 20 minutes later saying they had left some kit behind and needed to retrieve it. It then emerged a loaded pistol and other items including handcuffs and CS gas on an equipment belt had been left in a nine-year-old child’s bedroom. An internal PSNI investigation is under way into how the weapon came to be left at the home where four children live.

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