Ombudsman apology in Lorimer manslaughter case

Andrew Lorimer who died after a savage assault in Lurgan in February 2012
Andrew Lorimer who died after a savage assault in Lurgan in February 2012

A Lurgan man was shocked to find out through the media that a police officer had been disciplined in relation to the probe into his brother’s manslaughter.

Andrew Lorimer was found dead in his Lurgan flat in February 2012 after suffering a savage beating. He died later died from a punctured lung.

In November, two of his killers were jailed for five years, while a third man got four. The family were “disgusted” by the sentences and campaigned to increase them.

But this week Andrew’s brother Paul’s said his family found out via a newspaper that a police call-handler in the case had been disciplined.

“I just opened up the paper and saw Paul’s face there,” David told the News Letter. “We knew nothing about it. I did not even get time to read it. I just ran with it to my mother’s.

“We grieve for Andrew every single day, but the ripples of hurt continue and are only compounded by us not knowing what revelations will emerge next and from where.”

The assailants rang police after the attack and told them to look for a man who had been beaten up at Portlec Place, where Andrew’s flat was.

The ombudsman found that the call handler did not pass on the street name but instead asked a patrol car to check the nearby phone box from which the call was made.

The ombudsman found the failure to pass on the street name did not contribute to Andrew’s death, as three patrols checked Portlec Place and found nothing.

But Paul is not convinced.

“I have been told by several people that if Paul had been found earlier he could have survived,” he said.

The family and UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson met justice minister David Ford last week about sentencing in the case, but the ombudsman was not mentioned, he said.

Ms Dobson said yesterday: “I have written today to the Justice Minister, the Chief Constable and the Police Ombudsman on behalf of the Lorimer family expressing in the strongest terms their deep hurt at the way in which they are being kept in the dark.”

Justice Minister David Ford extended “deepest sympathy” to the family. He said the ombudsman is independent, and there was no role for him in the process.

The PSNI said that they “identified grounds for concern” with regards to police actions in the case, which led to a referral to the ombudsman.

An officer has been “subject to a misconduct sanction” as recommended by the ombudsman.

After the trial sentencing, the Court Service clarified the guidelines that led the judge to impose the terms that he did.