Published Date: Aug 2017
The Police Ombudsman has praised as “efficient and effective” initial enquiries made by police following an assault which left a man with fractures to his skull, cheek and nose as well as bleeding on the brain.
The man sustained the injuries when he and a friend were assaulted outside a bar in south Down in July 2015.
Although two men have since received suspended prison sentences after being convicted of common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, in the wake of the attack the victim was concerned about the quality of the police investigation.
He complained to the Police Ombudsman that police had failed to seize his clothes as evidence, and that he had not been advised to keep the clothing, which had since been disposed of.
However, when contacted by a Police Ombudsman investigator, the officer who had been first to arrive at the incident said the clothing would have added nothing to the police investigation.
She explained that the victim of the assault had been in the company of the suspects earlier in the evening, so further evidence of contact between the parties would not have assisted the case.
She added that her first priority after arriving at the scene had been to provide first aid and request medical assistance. She then sought witnesses and established the identities of the suspects and their vehicle.
These details were circulated on police radio, which led to the car being stopped and an arrest being made. The other suspect was arrested later.
Officer stayed on duty after the end of her shift to arrange forensic tests, update records and prepare a handover pack.
The car was stopped a few minutes after the response officer was due to finish her shift. However, she stayed on duty to arrange for the vehicle to be forensically examined, to update police records and to prepare a handover pack with notes for interviews.
The officer added that she had ensured that the suspect’s clothing was seized as the victim had been bleeding and any evidence of blood on the suspect’s clothing would assist the investigation.
Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said: “This was a challenging incident for the officer, but enquiries have shown that the she dealt with it in a calm, effective and carefully considered way which has since helped bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Enquiries also found that in the days after the attack, both the officer, and subsequently the Criminal Investigations Department, had provided the man and his family with appropriate updates on the progress of the investigation and forthcoming court dates.
There was also found to be insufficient evidence to uphold an allegation that police had failed to act quickly enough when one of the suspects was reported to be in breach of his bail conditions by drinking in a pub several months after the attack.
Evidence showed that police had arrived within 43 minutes of the report and had made an arrest.