Belfast Telegraph

Greenvale Hotel owner questioned over deaths of teenagers

Interview: Michael McElhatton
Interview: Michael McElhatton
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Greenvale Hotel owner Michael McElhatton was being questioned by police yesterday in connection with the deaths of three teenagers at his premises on St Patrick's Day.

Morgan Barnard (17), Lauren Bullock (17) and 16-year-old Connor Currie were crushed to death while queuing to enter the Cookstown venue for a disco.

More than 600 people had reportedly gathered outside the hotel before the incident.

Officers said they had been granted a 36-hour extension to interview a 52-year-old man in connection with the deaths.

A spokesperson for Mr McElhatton confirmed he was being interviewed in Dungannon Police Station.

The spokesperson said there was a pause in questioning earlier in the investigation after Mr McElhatton was wrongly suspected of possession of drugs.

Police said white powder found in a clear plastic bag during a search of Mr McElhatton's home was an "innocent substance".

"Mr McElhatton was aware that he was due to be questioned again and it was in the diary," the spokesperson said.

Mr McElhatton and another man were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the teenagers' deaths.

They were later released pending further investigation.

Police and Mid Ulster District Council are carrying out separate investigations into the incident at the hotel.

The Police Ombudsman is also investigating the initial response by the PSNI.

Police have said that the first responders to the scene at the Co Tyrone hotel withdrew to wait for support from colleagues.

Last week a planning application was submitted to demolish the hotel and replace it with properties and garages.

The building is a key piece of evidence in the police investigation into the deaths.

Mr McElhatton confirmed that there would be no changes to the hotel for at least the next four years.

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