Officer accused of neglect over lack of detailed notes
A police officer who was the duty sergeant on the night Portadown man Robert Hamill was beaten to death has been accused of being neglectful in his role after it emerged he failed to give detailed evidence about the incident in several statements, the inquiry into the man’s death has heard.
Yesterday, the hearing at the Interpoint Centre in Belfast heard that the officer, who can not be named and is only known as P89, did not record detailed evidence in his notebook immediately after the event 12 years ago because he did not think it was serious.
The inquiry also heard that P89 did not mention certain details in three separate statements because it hadn’t “dawned on” him they could have been significant.
Robert Hamill was a Catholic father-of-three who was beaten to death by a sectarian mob in the middle of Portadown on April 27, 1997 after around 50 people began rioting in the town centre.
Six men were charged with his murder however the charges were later dropped after two witnesses refused to give evidence against the accused.
The inquiry now being held is to determine whether police officers from the former RUC facilitated his death or obstructed the investigation or made any attempts to do so. The three-member panel of the inquiry will also decide whether any such acts or omissions by officers were intentional or negligent and whether the investigation of Mr Hamill’s death was carried out with due diligence.
During the hearing yesterday Barra McGrory, who is representing the Hamill family, accused P89 of being neglectful in his role as a police officer after it emerged he had only recorded seven or eight lines of detail about the riot in his notebook the following day but had recorded a page and a half of detail about a drink driving incident he attended after the riot.
He also suggested that a statement given by P89 on May 7, 1997 was “bereft” of vital information also constituted as “neglectful” however P89 disagreed.