Northern Ireland police officers 'made false statements to secure prosecution'
Two policemen accused of trying to "stitch-up" a so-called known trouble maker by allegedly making false statements against him over three years ago, have gone on trial at Newry Crown Court.
The pair, Conor Creelan and Roy Lucas, whose addresses are given as Armagh PSNI Station, deny doing an act to pervert public justice by making separate witness statements on June 22 and October 17, 2014, which they knew to be false and or untrue.
Prosecution barrister Geraldine McCullough told the jury of seven men and five women that the case arose out of a complaint to the Police Ombudsman from an Armagh man following a failed prosecution for disorderly behaviour.
That case was stopped by the PPS after his lawyers produced a video he had taken on his mobile phone totally contradicting police versions of him swearing at them and being disorderly.
Ms McCullough told the jury that "at first blush" the case might appear to be about "a minor disturbance in Armagh and indeed may appear to be about the annoying antics" of a man well-known to police, who was "a repeat offender who has a history of disorderly behaviour".
However, she added the case was "not about him or his bad behaviour" and was in fact about two police officers who brought the criminal justice system into jeopardy.
She said that the officers "made lying statements accusing a man of behaviour that was not true, causing him to be prosecuted for a crime he did not commit on this occasion, and in so doing they perverted the course of justice".
Ms McCullough said in their original statements the officers claimed the man, for the second time that evening, was abusive, and continually swore at police, despite being cautioned about his behaviour.
In his complaint to the Police Ombudsman, that man stated that Constable "Creelan lied in his statement and the evidence is contained in the DVD of the video from my phone".
While the man said he had "no other complaint against any other officer", it emerged that Lucas had made a similar statement to that of his then police colleague.
It also emerged during the Ombudsman's investigations that despite Lucas claiming that he had not seen his colleague's statement, and claims by Creelan that he never shared his statement with his fellow officer, in an email, dated October 9, 2014, Creelan asked Lucas for his statement, and included an attachment of his own witness statement.
Ms McCullough added that police officers in particular should be aware of the importance of truthful witness statements as they form the basis for prosecution, which in turn could lead to conviction and or imprisonment.
"The outcome of making a false witness statement is a very serious matter and it is imperative witnesses tell the truth," said Ms McCullough.
The trial, expected to last up to a week, continues today.