Belfast Telegraph

Botched arson investigation PSNI officers disciplined

By Rebecca Black

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

The investigation by Dr Michael Maguire's office 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 the witnesses - relatives of the victim of the attack who had not been kept updated by police - contacted the PPS for information.

When they were told that the case was due to go to court, they contacted the PONI to complain that the file submitted by police to the PPS must be incomplete.

After examining police records and confirming that to be the case, a Police Ombudsman investigator alerted the PPS. The PPS then directed the police to take the statements, which were provided to the court as late evidence.

At the subsequent hearing, the man accused of the arson attack was convicted and given 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 that it would contain relevant evidence.

"This was not his decision to make," explained the Police Ombudsman investigator.

"The officer should have taken a statement and left it to the PPS to decide on its relevance."

The officer appointed to take over from him also failed to complete a number of enquiries, despite being directed to do so by his supervisors.

The original investigating officer has since left the police and as a result, no disciplinary action could be taken against him.

However, a supervisor who failed to direct him to take a statement from one of the witnesses, has been disciplined for this omission.

The second investigating officer has also been disciplined for failing to conduct enquiries as directed by his supervisors.

Belfast Telegraph


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