Belfast Telegraph

Police didn't warn Belfast man about threat before he was murdered

Shot dead: Conor McKee
Shot dead: Conor McKee

By PA Reporter

A murder victim was among eight people police in Northern Ireland failed to warn about serious threats, a watchdog revealed.

Father-of-two Conor McKee was shot dead in north Belfast in 2016.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire was asked to investigate concerns about how officers responded to information that people were under threat.

His mother Margaret McKee told UTV: "The detective in charge of Conor's murder told my husband and I there had been a death threat made when Conor was in prison, and he had not been told about the death threat, and they had reported it to the Ombudsman."

In November 2015, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton asked the Ombudsman to investigate concerns about how his officers responded to information that a number of people were under threat. Police had been aware of threats against two men shot in Belfast earlier in the year.

An officer had incorrectly assessed both warnings as representing a low risk. This meant no protective measures were put in place and the men were given no advance warning before they were attacked.

Police then reviewed other assessments made by the same officer. They checked a total of 20 spanning more than six months, finding another five in which he had wrongly assessed people.

These threats were regraded, warnings issued to those affected and steps taken to ensure their protection.

In January 2016, a man was shot dead in Belfast. Police had also known about a threat against this man.

That had also been incorrectly assessed by the same officer, yet had not been picked up by the review of his work. The watchdog was unable to interview the officer as he was on medical leave during their investigation.

They established that he had reached incorrect conclusions as he had failed to follow police procedures.

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