PSNI’s ‘Officer of the Year’ accused of brothel tip-off
Published 17/12/2009 | 02:57
An award-winning PSNI officer has been charged in connection with a lucrative brothel running operation that was smashed by police, the Belfast Telegraph can now reveal.
Constable Christopher Murdoch — who was honoured as Community Police Officer of the Year in 2006 for his outreach work with the Chinese community — is accused of tipping off one of the prostitutes, who he allegedly had a relationship with, that police had been made aware of the suspected brothel in Castlerock following a complaint from a member of the public.
According to court papers the 42-year-old, whose address has been given as Coleraine Police Station, received a complaint from a man “in relation to two girls in an illegal suspected brothel” in a flat opposite Bertha’s Bar, also known as Loves Bar, in Castlerock.
The court documents said that Murdoch failed to disclose to police his relationship with one of the girls and his knowledge of the subject of the complaint. He allegedly made a phone call to one of the girls about the complaint “despite having been instructed not to discuss any information relating to the matter outside Coleraine PSNI call handling office”.
Murdoch, who is based in Coleraine but has been suspended on full pay until the outcome of his court case, was arrested in June last year. He was detained with two Malaysian women under the Sexual Offences Act after police searches in Coleraine and Castlerock.
One of the women was later charged with running a brothel. Murdoch was released without charge after being quizzed by detectives for five days. However, a file was later forwarded to the PPS and he has now been charged with doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.
Murdoch was due to make a first appearance in Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday, but the case was adjourned to next month after his solicitor told the court it was a “very complex case”.
His solicitor said that counsel has already been instructed in the case.
Murdoch, who has been granted legal aid to fight his case, has been a serving police officer for almost 20 years.
He was decorated with the Community Police Officer of the Year award for his involvement “in a range of community policing initiatives” and for playing “a direct role in the recognised improvement in the quality of life in the Ballysally area”.
The officer was praised for developing an outreach neighbourhood police clinic and contributing to a number of projects on the use of pellet guns, criminal damage, burglaries and bonfires with the Chinese community in Coleraine. Presenting him with his award in May 2006, the now Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie told him he was a “very worthy winner”.
The PSNI also said that the award “recognises the vital components of an exceptional community police officer who achieves excellence in policing”.