Cyclist hospitalised after road accident has complaint against police upheld

Published Date: 20.12.2018

A cyclist who was hospitalised for five days after being hit by a car in Glengormley has had a complaint about the police investigation into the incident upheld by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

The man, who was cycling home from work when the accident occurred in September last year, said that despite suffering serious injuries in the collision, he was never interviewed by police and was not told the outcome of the investigation.

The cyclist, who disputed the account of the one witness subsequently spoken to by police, also complained that police failed to identify additional witnesses at the scene. He added that he believed the conduct of the investigation was influenced by his being a foreign national despite him having lived in Northern Ireland for many years.

On being formally interviewed by Police Ombudsman investigators, the police investigating officer said he had spoken to the injured cyclist whilst he was in the back of the ambulance and had breathalysed the driver, who tested negative for alcohol.

The officer said he had checked for CCTV in the area by looking around nearby buildings but could not see any cameras. 

He confirmed that he did not speak to the witness at the time of the incident and had not made an entry in his notebook regarding his attendance at the scene.

The constable also admitted that he had not made any enquiries in the three weeks following the accident on September 11.

Police documentation showed that the officer was due to speak to the witness on October 5 but this statement was not recorded. When questioned by investigators as to why, he said that it was ‘probably’ due to other work commitments which meant he could not get out to meet the witness. The statement was eventually taken four months after the accident.

The officer also said that he did not think it was necessary to speak to the injured man and denied treating the case differently because of the man’s nationality.

However, Police Ombudsman staff found that the police officer should have spoken to the injured cyclist and obtained his account of events given the fact that he had disputed the witness account.
The officer should also have updated the man on the investigation and advised him of the final outcome.

His failure to accurately record the investigative queries he claimed to have carried out was also deemed a disciplinary matter by Police Ombudsman staff who made appropriate disciplinary recommendations to the PSNI. These have since been acted on.

There was no evidence to support the man’s claim that the investigation was influenced by his nationality.
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