Police not to blame over killing outside west Belfast PSNI station
Officers unaware of fatal attack on man outside station, says ombudsman
A man was beaten to death just yards from a west Belfast police station, but officers on duty inside were unaware of it happening, a report has revealed.
The attack below an unmanned sangar lasted 26 seconds and was captured on two security cameras at Woodbourne.
But a Police Ombudsman's Office investigation into the death of father-of-eight Seamus Fox (58) said the blame rested with the man who murdered him.
Dr Michael Maguire said: “There is no evidence any police officer on duty that morning should share this responsibility.”
Mr Fox died from his injuries on waste ground about 10 metres from the station's perimeter fence in the early hours of April 22, 2010. He had been on his way to his home on Horn Road after playing darts at Donegal Celtic FC when he was attacked.
During a hearing at Belfast Crown Court where Gerard Connors, then aged 19, later pleaded guilty to the murder, the judge heard that Connors had been present at a fire reported earlier to the police. According to a report released yesterday, Mr Fox's family told Ombudsman investigators they were concerned the attack was seen from inside the police station and officers failed to respond.
They also feared that had police attended the fire, there was a strong likelihood the subsequent attack would not have happened.
But Dr Maguire concluded that no police officer saw or was aware of the attack taking place.
He said: “There were two security cameras relaying pictures of the attack on Mr Fox as it happened on to two of more than a dozen screens in a security sangar. No one was on duty in the sangar which overlooked the scene of the attack as it was normal practice in 2010 for it not to be staffed.”
The report said the Ombudsman had established that an ‘out of bounds' order — an order whereby police restrict the movement of their officers in a given area — was in place that night near the fire and this was one of the factors behind the police decision not to attend the scene.
“The responsibility for Mr Fox's death rests with Gerard Connors, who beat him in a vicious attack. There is no evidence any police officer on duty that morning should share this responsibility,” said Dr Maguire.