PSNI called out days before child killed and another stabbed
The Police Ombudsman is assessing a visit cops made to a family home in north Belfast where just days later a baby was stabbed to death.
Officers attended the Ardoyne address, now boarded up and covered in floral tributes, four days before eight-week-old Liam O’Keefe and sister Kayla (2) were stabbed.
Baby Liam was pronounced dead at the scene while Kayla was rushed to hospital in a critical condition before being stabilised late last week.
The children’s mother Raluca Tagani (29), who sustained injuries to her throat and was arrested at the scene, has since been charged with her son’s murder and attempted murder of her daughter.
The PSNI would not comment yesterday but it is understood they have notified the Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson about officers visiting the family home in the days before the killing.
However, sources said the force stopped short of referring themselves to the police watchdog over the matter as they do not feel it meets the required criteria.
An Ombudsman spokesman said last night: “Police notified us about a serious incident in Ardoyne and we’re now conducting preliminary inquiries in relation to the police response.
“A decision will be made in the coming days about whether there are issues requiring investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s office.”
The father of the children, Liam O’Keefe Snr, has said he was “truly heartbroken” at a vigil on Brompton Park, Ardoyne, outside the former family home.
Liam Snr had been in England and rushed back to Belfast after receiving the devastating news his son had been killed and his daughter hospitalised in a critical condition. Speaking at the Brompton Park vigil he said: “To all the neighbours and the full community for all their help and support, I really appreciate it all.
“Holding this vigil means the world to me. I am truly heartbroken but it gives me the strength to know you are all giving so much love and support.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Yesterday Sunday Life spoke to the O’Keefe family in north Belfast but they made it clear they did not wish to speak to the press. It is believed the funeral of baby Liam will be a private service.
Last week Liam jnr’s half-sister revealed her family’s heartache after her brother was stabbed and said the family have gone from preparing for a Christening to planning a burial. Speaking from her home in Wolverhampton, she said: “They were meant to be having the baby’s Christening soon — and now it’s going to be a funeral.
“He was only eight weeks old so I didn’t get to meet him. My dad is in absolute bits.
“Liam was a beautiful baby — I just can’t get my head around it. We are all devastated.”
The 22-year-old went on to reveal the harrowing moment her dad discovered his babies had been stabbed.
She explained: “When it happened, my dad was standing in my sister’s kitchen. She was in the bath and she heard a scream, which was my dad. My sister rang the emergency services in Northern Ireland and they sent a rapid response out.”
Heartbroken family members paid tribute to Liam on social media after the PSNI confirmed his identity on Thursday.
A relative wrote: “Let’s light Facebook up for our beautiful angel who lost his life and for our beautiful cousin who is fighting for her life in ICU.”
Police were scrambled to the home in Ardoyne on Tuesday at around 8pm.
Horrified neighbours screamed “oh my god” as the victims were carried from the house in footage of the police response circulated on social media.
Onlookers helped police before ambulance crews arrived in the wake of the bloodbath. Floral tributes and teddies have been left outside the front garden which still has a baby’s pram and doll in it.
Officers confirmed they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the killing.
Raluca Ioana Tagani, dressed in a grey tracksuit, made a brief appearance via video-link at Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast on Friday.
The charges of murder of a child and attempted murder of a child were read to her by a Romanian interpreter and she replied in Romanian to confirm she understood the charge.
Solicitor Sean Mullan, of McCallion Jones solicitors, told the court there would be no application for bail and the hearing lasted less than three minutes. Several members of the O’Keefe family watched on via video-link as Ms Tagani was remanded into custody to appear in court again later this month.