Officers 'had no way to predict killing', says ombudsman

Police officers who decided not to arrest a man who stabbed a man to death just hours later 'could not have predicted that he would go on to kill', a police ombudsman investigation has found.

Tuesday, 3rd July 2018, 7:03 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:04 pm
Mohsin Bhatti

Ahmed Noor stabbed 29-year-old Mohsin Bhatti multiple times at Botanic Avenue in the early hours of January 29, 2015.

A subsequent court hearing was told that Noor, a paranoid schizophrenic, had been smoking cannabis and had heard voices in his head telling him to attack his friend.

Noor pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was given an indeterminate custodial sentence, and told that he must serve at least six years’ detention before being considered eligible for release.

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Police had searched Noor shortly after 10pm on the evening before the killing, after receiving a report that he had tried repeatedly to open the front door of a flat occupied by two women. Officers decided there were no grounds for arrest and allowed him to leave the area.

When interviewed by police ombudsman investigators, the officers who responded to the call said Noor had been nervous, confused and “rambling incoherently”, but was also compliant and unaggressive.

They said he refused to answer their questions, so they decided to search him under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Nothing was found.

The officers said that as he had committed no offences, and was not deemed to be a threat to himself or others, there were no grounds for arrest and they had no option but to allow him to leave the area. The Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the officers had acted appropriately.

“They described Noor as being agitated, confused and disorientated, but none of them considered him to represent a threat to himself or anyone else. Their decision not to arrest him was the right one in the circumstances.”