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PSNI failed to spot body on sofa

Two police officers have been disciplined after twice missing the decomposing body of a man at his flat in Londonderry, a Policing Board member said today.



The man, who had died in his home and was under a blanket on his sofa, was not found until the third search of the flat at Deramore Drive in Strathfoyle in September 2008. He had been dead for several days.

Policing Board member and Foyle MLA Martina Anderson today spoke out about the incident, which came to light at a meeting of the Board’s Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee in Belfast yesterday.

At the meeting Ms Anderson was briefed on the findings of a Police Ombudsman’s investigation into the case.

Ms Anderson said: “This was a tragic case and one from which lessons need to be learned and I am glad that the PSNI have now implemented changes to their policy in response to the Ombudsman’s investigation,” she said.

“Two officers have also received disciplinary sanctions for their failures in this case and I hope that we never see a repetition of this kind of incident.”

Outlining the background to the case, Ms Anderson continued: “On September 14, 2008, a lady reported to the PSNI that she had not seen her neighbour for over a week. She called back the following day to say that he still had not been seen. Later that afternoon, two officers were tasked to visit the man’s home. One of them entered the property and conducted a cursory search, finding nothing.

“The following day, another two officers were sent to the house to try and establish the missing man’s whereabouts. Again, an initial search failed to find him and it was only when a neighbour explained that the missing man had previously been found asleep under a blanket on the sofa that his decomposing remains were found.”

A post mortem revealed that the man, believed to be his forties, had died before the initial call to police and there was no suggestion of foul play.

“I would like to express my sympathy with the family of the dead man and to reiterate that we will continue to robustly hold the PSNI to account to ensure that failures like these are exposed and dealt with,” Ms Anderson added.

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