PSNI sergeant on trial for man’s death in custody

David McGowan died in custody in Lisburn PSNI station in May 2014
David McGowan died in custody in Lisburn PSNI station in May 2014

A Belfast Crown Court jury of seven men and five women has been chosen to try the case of a PSNI sergeant, Brian McKenna, who faces charges arising out of the death of a 29-year-old man in May 2014.

No details surrounding the death of David McGowan were given during the jury selection process, but Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland revealed he died in the police custody suite in Lisburn PSNI station.

The recorder said that the trial, which is due to begin on Friday, should last for at least a month, although there was a possibility it may run longer.

The jury panel was also told they would be hearing evidence from an Alexander McAllister, a former prison officer who at the time worked as a civilian detention officer at Lisburn PSNI station.

In addition Judge McFarland informed the panel that the case involved “three institutions – the PSNI, the Prison Service and the Police Ombudsman’s Office who carried out the investigation”.

The judge said that if any member of the panel felt that they may be prejudiced or have any sympathies, they should bring it to his notice.

One jury member, who would have been the jury foreperson, did indicate and following a private discussion with the recorder, that person was excused from sitting on the jury, whose selection was then completed.

Before releasing them, the recorder warned the jury not to discuss the case with anyone and also instructed them that it would be “entirely wrong” for any of them to conduct any internet searches about the case.