Published Date: 15.04.2008
The Police Ombudsman's Office has told the son of an off-duty policeman killed in Belfast in 1988 that the investigation into his father's murder was not thorough and that not all information available to police was passed to the detectives investigating the killing.
Constable John Larmour was shot dead on the evening of Tuesday, 11 October 1988, in an ice cream parlour on the Lisburn Road in Belfast. The Constable, who was off-duty, had been helping his brother, who owned the business. The IRA later said they carried out the attack.
Constable Larmour's son complained to the Police Ombudsman's Office that police did not carry out "even the most basic investigation" into his father's murder.
He made a number of detailed allegations about the quality of the investigation, which included that police did not act on information available to them following the attack.
The Police Ombudsman investigation has highlighted a number of areas of concern:
"We have looked again at the investigation into the murder of Constable Larmour and have borne in mind the context of that period in Northern Ireland and the pressure police were under. There were 98 "Troubles" related deaths that year alone. We also accept that almost any review of an investigation will find shortfalls or areas where things could have been done better.
"Even so, we have found a number of failings with the original investigation and must conclude that it was not as thorough as one would have expected of a murder investigation.
"More thoroughness would have been expected in relation to follow up inquiries concerning witnesses, suspects, telephone calls and vehicles thought to have been used in the attack. Some of these enquiries were either not started or not completed," said a spokesman.
The Police Ombudsman's investigators examined material held by the police to establish the nature of any relevant information which was available prior to and after the murder:
"We found no information which would have told police the attack on Constable Larmour was about to take place and could have allowed them to try and prevent it," said the spokesman.
However, Police Ombudsman investigators established that the police did receive information about Constable Larmour's murderer following the attack, but not all of this was passed to the detectives investigating what happened.
"We accept that the information was not necessarily evidence, but it could have led to evidential opportunities which should have been explored by the police. It did not happen in this case, as the police officers investigating the murder were never made aware of all the information available," said the spokesman.
The PSNI Historical Enquiry Team, which is looking at deaths during "The Troubles", including Constable Larmour's murder, have been made aware of all relevant information which is available in this case.
The Police Ombudsman's Office has now forwarded a report on the findings and recommendations from its investigation to the Chief Constable.
"It is now up to the PSNI to make a decision on any new lines of enquiry," said the spokesman.