Police re-open assault case after Police Ombudsman finds serious failings

Published Date: 08.12.2016

Police have re-opened an investigation into a serious assault after the Police Ombudsman found significant failings in the way the case had initially been progressed.

The officer who investigated the attack – which left a man with a broken nose and fractured cheek - has also been disciplined for failing to progress a series of investigative opportunities before closing the case.

The victim was punched and kicked after becoming involved in an argument last year.

He later provided police with relevant evidence, including the registration number of a car and the names of a number of witnesses.

Eight months later, after becoming frustrated by a lack of police contact and an apparent lack of progress on the case, he lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

A Police Ombudsman investigator obtained all relevant police documentation, as well as statements from the man, a doctor who examined him and other witnesses.

Officer interviewed no one except for injured party.

When interviewed, the investigating officer accepted that he had failed to interview any witnesses apart from the injured party. He said he had been told only one witness could help with identification and he had tried to contact this person but had received no response.

He also admitted that he had not made any enquiries relating to the car registration number, stating that it could have been driven by any one of a number of people.

And he acknowledged that it was unacceptable that the victim had not heard from him for five months after making a statement.

Enquiries also found no record of some of the investigative actions the officer said he had taken.

The Police Ombudsman investigator also considered whether there had been a lack of supervision of the investigation, but recommended no disciplinary action against either of the officers who had overseen the case.

The first had been involved for only a brief period at the outset, and the second had taken appropriate steps given the limited information provided by the investigating officer.

The PSNI has since re-opened the case and appointed a new investigating officer.

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