‘Officer involved in murder’ claim dismissed by Ombudsman

Police Ombudsman
Police Ombudsman

Allegations that a Northern Ireland police officer was involved in the 2001 murder of a drug dealing business partner have been dismissed following a Police Ombudsman (PONI) investigation.

The claim was first raised in December 2010 when a man walked into a police station in Holland and said he had information about a murder in Northern Ireland.

Officers passed the information provided to another Dutch police department, who then tried to contact the man several times before referring the case to the PSNI – after learning that he may have moved back to Northern Ireland.

PSNI officers were initially unable to locate him but, having left contact details at an address he was known to be associated with, the man contacted police in March 2012.

He told PSNI detectives that in the months leading up to the murder he had been watching a house in Co Antrim where he believed the victim kept “drugs money” the he planned to steal.

During this period, he claims he saw the police officer – he alleged was involved in the murder – visiting the property.

He also said he had heard that the officer had been in business with the alleged drug dealer, who had threatened to publicly name his alleged business partners.

On the morning of the murder, the man claimed he had seen the victim and his partner in a small hatchback car which he said was being followed by three other cars.

The man also claimed he knew the occupants of these vehicles were police officers, because he had had previous dealings with them. He also believed that these officers were acting as part of a police surveillance team.

Later the same evening he heard that the alleged dealer had been murdered in Belfast.

He said he had now decided to come forward and volunteer the information as he was fed up with being harassed on the basis of false information he believed was being given to police by informers.

Due to the serious nature of the allegations, the chief constable asked the Police Ombudsman to conduct an independent investigation.

PONI investigators contacted the man, but he declined to meet them. The investigators also reviewed all relevant police documentation from the original PSNI murder investigation.

The records included a piece of information alleging that the murder victim had witnessed unnamed police officers carrying out a rape, and that he had then used this information to “get police on his side.”

There was nothing to corroborate this information, the ombudsman has said.

A retired officer who had been involved in the original murder investigation was contacted by PONI investigators. The former officer said he could remember the allegation about the alleged rape involving police officers, but said there had been nothing to corroborate this allegation.

Enquiries by PONI investigators also established that the murder victim had not been under police surveillance on the day he was killed.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that there was no evidence of police involvement in the murder, or any grounds on which to recommend that any officer be disciplined or prosecuted.