Police withdrew on night Cookstown teens died in disco crush tragedy - watchdog to probe decision to wait for support
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has decided to refer the initial PSNI response to the Greenvale Hotel crush to the Police Ombudsman.
It has been revealed that the police officers who were first on the scene of the tragedy withdrew to await further support.
Lauren Bullock (17) from Donaghmore, Morgan Barnard (17) and Connor Currie (16), both from Dungannon, died following the crush at the Greenvale Hotel as crowds of young people waited to gain entry to the venue on St Patrick's Day.
Greenvale Hotel owner Michael McElhatton and a 40-year-old man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the incident have been released on police bail.
Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said that the police investigation was "active and wide ranging" and "it is right and proper that the actions of all those involved are considered".
He revealed that the first police officers arrived at the hotel grounds shortly after receiving the 999 report.
Following their initial assessment they made attempts to establish more detail and information about what was happening and subsequently withdrew to await further police support.
When the first ambulance arrived police moved forward in support of them.
"The timing and nature of police actions during this period require further investigation to fully establish the facts," Deputy Chief Constable Martin said.
"The Chief Constable has therefore decided that the initial police response should be subject to independent scrutiny and it is in the public interest to refer the circumstances and the nature of the actions of the first officers arriving at the scene to the Police Ombudsman."
The families of the victims have been informed of the referral.
"The confidence of the families and the confidence of the communities we serve are at the forefront of our minds in our decision to refer this matter to the Police Ombudsman," Deputy Chief Constable Martin said.
"We will work with the Ombudsman to support whatever action he undertakes and would ask that people do not speculate or prejudge the outcome of the Ombudsman’s investigation."
Belfast Telegraph Digital