No judicial review over decision not to prosecute over woman’s death

Mairead McCallion, who was found with head injuries at a house in County Tyrone. Picture Pacemaker
Mairead McCallion, who was found with head injuries at a house in County Tyrone. Picture Pacemaker

The decision not to prosecute a man over the death of his partner two years ago will not be judicially reviewed, a coroner’s court has been told.

Thirty-six-year-old Mairead McCallion died on February 24 2014, a day after she was found with head injuries at a flat in Omagh.

At a preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast, a barrister for the Coroners Service said the McCallion family had previously indicated they were considering a judicial review but did not now intend to pursue the matter.

Philip Henry told the court: “No judicial review proceedings are going to be issued.”

Ms McCallion, a trainee accountant, alleged she was grabbed by the hair and had her head struck against a wall during an assault.

She died from bleeding on the brain a day later at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.

Her partner, Noel Knox, was initially charged with murder but the case was dramatically dropped after prosecutors raised concerns about inconclusive medical evidence.

A PPS statement from September 2014 said: “We have carefully considered all the available evidence and consider that this does not meet the test for prosecution.

“To pass the test there must be sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction. In this case, there were particular concerns about the inconclusive aspect of the expert medical evidence.”

The controversial case was also reviewed by the Police Ombudsman’s office which recommended two police officers be disciplined for their handling of it.

Coroner Patrick McGurgan said he proposed to write to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Police Ombudsman and medical experts requesting disclosure of documentation.

Any documentation provided may have to be assessed for redactions, the court was told.

Meanwhile, the inquest is likely to be held at a venue outside of Belfast, possibly in Omagh and may sit without a jury.

Mr McGurgan said he was minded not to have a jury but has invited submissions on the issue from legal teams.

He said: “My preliminary view is that I do not believe a jury is required in this matter but that’s simply a preliminary view.”

No one from the McCallion family was in court for the short hearing.