Coleraine pub fight: Four RUC/PSNI officers disciplined

The fight broke out in a bar in the loyalist area of Coltrane in 2015

Four RUC/PSNI officers have been disciplined for their involvement in a fight in a bar in Coleraine in 2015.

An investigating officer has also been disciplined.

The fight started in the toilets of a pub in Coleraine and continued in an alleyway outside after those involved were asked to leave.

Four members of the public were arrested at the scene after off-duty officers made 999 calls. Two others were arrested in the following weeks.

They were charged with public order offences and a file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The off duty officers, who were initially treated as witnesses, were then interviewed as potential suspects after allegations were made against them.

The Northern Ireland Ombudsman found that the investigating officer failed to properly challenge the off-duty officers about inconsistencies in their accounts.

The PSNI accepted the findings of the Ombudsman.

‘Internal disciplinary process’
It was also found that the investigating officer failed to make full use of CCTV and mobile phone footage and was a month late in submitting the file, which meant the officers could not be considered for prosecution.

The investigating officer denied showing favouritism towards the off-duty officers.

After completing its enquiries, the Ombudsman’s office submitted files to the PPS. It directed that the four off-duty officers should not be prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of justice and that neither they or the investigating officer should be prosecuted for misconduct in public office.

It also suggested that while the test for prosecution had been met in relation to the officer who improperly accessed police records, a disciplinary sanction would be more appropriate.

PSNI Chief Inspector Mark McClarence said the police and the public expect police officers to behave “professionally, ethically and with the utmost integrity at all times, whether on or off duty”.

“Where it is perceived that conduct falls short of these high standards, it is right that officers should face an impartial, thorough investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s office,” he added.

“We self-referred this incident to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for an independent review of the investigation.

“The PSNI accepted the findings of the Ombudsman in this case and implemented an internal disciplinary process which resulted in the officers receiving a misconduct outcome.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Civilian detention officer given suspended sentence for misconduct

David McGowan died in a cell at Lisburn police station in May 2014

A civilian detention officer working at a police station on the night a man died in custody has been handed a six month suspended sentence.

Alexander McAllister was on duty at Lisburn police station when David McGowan, 28, died in May 2014.

He was working with Sgt Brian McKenna, who was cleared of manslaughter in October.

Appearing at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, McAllister was found guilty of misconduct over a two-hour period.

The 62-year-old was given a six month sentence, which is suspended for 12 months.

Jury shown final hours of mans life
Girlfriend’s custody death trial evidence
Alexander McAllister was charged after a Police Ombudsman investigation was carried out into the death of Mr McGowan.

Mr McGowan was arrested along with his girlfriend outside a flat in east Belfast on the evening of 29 May 2014.

Whilst held, David McGowan was said to have had “white powder in his mouth” before vomiting.

An ambulance was called two minutes later and although CPR was administered, Mr McGowan was pronounced dead at 01:47 BST.

A post-mortem concluded he died from an “upper airway obstruction due to inhalation of gastric contents, due to toxic effects of alcohol and drugs”.

During the trial, CCTV footage from Lisburn Custody Suite was played to the jury, while McAllister gave evidence and spent several days in the witness box.

Judge David McFarland spoke of a series of failures from Alexander McAllister, saying his misconduct was “reckless rather than deliberate”.

The court heard of one failure where McAllister did not tell a doctor at the station about a claim that David McGowan had taken up to 40 tablets.

Another failure outlined by Judge McFarland was McAllister disobeying a request by the custody sergeant to check on Mr McGowan after concerns that he was struggling to breathe.

The judge said that had this check been carried out, evidence of vomiting could have been observed and could have led to intervention.

“Police failures”
The family of David McGowan attended the trial of Alexander McAllister, later releasing a statement describing their “frustration”.

They said: “that David would be alive today had he been treated humanely whilst in police custody.

“The McGowan family consider that the extent of police failures and the gravity of the consequences are not reflected in the conviction and sentence handed down today”.

McAllister’s lawyer acknowledged the suffering of the McGowan family.

“He carries the burden that something happened on his watch. He is carrying a psychological wound,” he told the court.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.

More on this story

Police custody sergeant cleared of manslaughter 17 October

2018 Jury shown final hours of man’s life in custody 26 September 2018

Girlfriend’s custody death trial evidence 24 September 2018

RUC/PSNI told to focus on Loughinisland Massacre and not journalists

Barry McCaffrey (left) and Trevor Birney before entering Musgrave Street RUC/PSNI Station today. Picture by Hugh Russell

A journalist arrested over the alleged theft of a document that appeared in his film on a notorious Troubles massacre had branded the ongoing investigation a “complete farce”.

Trevor Birney heavily criticised the police as he and fellow documentary maker Barry McCaffrey were bailed from custody after failing to get the probe halted.

The award-winning reporters were arrested in August over the alleged theft of confidential material from the offices of Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Dr Michael Maguire.

It is alleged the material appeared in their No Stone Unturned film on the 1994 loyalist paramilitary massacre of six Catholic men in the Co Down village of Loughinisland.

The reporters returned for pre-arranged meetings with officers in Belfast today, during which their lawyers argued that the investigation should be stopped.

That bid came after Dr Maguire’s office denied ever making a complaint of theft against the men.

Police rejected the application on Friday, bailing the men to return to face further questions on March 1 next year.

Loughinisland massacre journalists have both won justice awards in distinguished careers

Loughinisland massacre: Startling documentary will take story of injustice to global audience

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

“I think this is quite clearly punitive and an attempt to try to restrict both myself and Barry and the work that we are trying to do and I think it’s just been another very frustrating day, not only for ourselves but for all our colleagues and for those we are trying to work for.”

Six men were killed when Ulster Volunteer Force gunmen opened fire inside the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in June 1994. The victims were football fans who had gathered to watch the Republic of Ireland play in the World Cup.

The 2017 documentary by Mr Birney and Mr McCaffrey broke new ground by publicly naming those it said were suspects. No one has ever been convicted for the killings.

In a landmark report in 2016, Dr Maguire concluded that the security forces colluded with the Loughinisland killers.

The PSNI, concerned about conflict of interest issues, asked Durham Constabulary to probe the alleged theft of the document after the film was released last year.

Durham’s chief constable Mike Barton and the Ombudsman are currently at odds over whether a crime was actually reported to police.

The Ombudsman’s office has denied making a “complaint of theft” to the RUC/PSNI

UVF gunmen opened fire at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, Co Down during a World Cup game in June 1994.

Mr Barton has rejected the assertion, insisting a report was made by the Ombudsman’s office, followed up by a “written statement of complaint by a member of their senior management team”.

The journalists were released after being questioned for 14 hours in August to return to police custody on Friday.

They were applauded by a crowd of around 60 journalists who gathered to show solidarity as they arrived at the Musgrave Street station in the city centre.

The men emerged three hours later.

Outside, Mr McCaffrey questioned why no Durham Police officers were involved in the meetings, despite the force being supposedly in charge of the investigation.

Mr Birney said he and his colleague had been overwhelmed by the support.

“Ultimately this is all about the Loughinisland families,” he added.

“This really isn’t about us, but I think this farce today has just added to their grief and added to their concern that they are like corks on the ocean being bobbed about by police forces both here and in Durham.”

The six victims were killed as they watched a World Cup match in the Heights Bar, Loughinisland, in 1994
His solicitor Niall Murphy claimed the probe was motivated by “paranoid hysteria” among police commanders.

“Remarkably police have decided to continue with this farcical investigation,” he said.

“They have refused to take cognisance of the fact that there is no complaint.

“We have made representations that it is crystal clear that no offence has taken place and repeated the submission that the only investigation that should arise from the film No Stone Unturned is the murder of six men.”

The lawyer said he had expected the case to be dropped on Friday.

“This is a malicious farce conditioned by a paranoid hysteria in the senior ranks of the police,” said Mr Murphy.

“I regret to say I’m not surprised.

“The police approach here has been conditioned by an intention to protect their own intelligence agenda and that has been sustained again today by the nonsensical continuation of bail for two professional journalists doing their best and presenting as exemplars of the local profession.”

Ahead of the men entering the police station, Seamus Dooley, secretary of the Irish NUJ, urged detectives to “stop fishing” and instead catch the Loughinisland killers.

Afterwards, he branded the continuation of the probe a “travesty” and a “game changer”.

“It is a gross injustice,” he said.

“Facing into Christmas and the first quarter of 2019 with these restrictive bail requirements is unacceptable and there is now an obligation on the journalistic community, not just nationally but internationally, to renew our campaign.”

Mr Dooley also called for the Irish government to object to the situation.

“No journalist wants to be the centre of news but we’re now forced into the situation where those who have raised the questions are punished for doing so,” he said.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.

RUC/PSNI still clutching with straws confusing

A man has been arrested in connection with a dissident Republican bomb attack on a police officer in Derry last year.

CORDAN: Ardanlee in Derry

The 46-year-old man is being questioned about a bomb placed under the officer’s car in February last year. The device was discovered at Ardanlee in the city’s Culmore area. Described as an UVIED (Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device), the bomb exploded as British army technical officers were attempting to defuse it.

Following the bomb attempt, RUC/PSNI detective inspector, Peter McKenna said police believed the ‘New IRA’ was behind what he described as a “cowardly” attack. Following the bomb attempt, RUC/PSNI detective inspector, Peter McKenna said police believed the ‘New IRA’ what he described as a “cowardly” attack. Mr McKenna said if the bomb had exploded while the intended target and his family were in the car, the consequences would have been devastating. Yesterday’s arrest is the sixth in connection with the attempted attack. The man was last night being questioned at the RUC/PSNI’s Musgrave serious crime suite under the Terrorism Act.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Seamus McKinney for the original story.

RUC/PSNI officer to stand trial over indecent images

Robert Jason Ainscough also charged with misconduct

A POLICE officer is to stand trial on a series of charges, including making and possessing indecent images of children.

Appearing for a committal hearing at Craigavon Magistrates Court on Friday was Robert Jason Ainscough (33) whose address was given as PSNI Lurgan. He faces two sets of charges, one of which involves 13 counts of misconduct in public office and the other, multiple allegations related to indecent images of children.

In the first set of charges he is accused of 17 counts of both making and possessing indecent images of children on various dates between January 6th 2015 and August 2oth 2016. The second case relates to 13 counts of misconduct in which it is alleged Ainscough, as a PSNI constable, willfully abused his position on various dates between January 7th 2015 and June 29th 2016.

These matters allege different methods of misconduct of which two counts relate to accessing the personal details of a person on police computer systems. There are also counts of accessing and sharing a confidential incident log and details on a named individual.

However the bulk of charges in this set of offences involves Ainscough allegedly exchanging sexually explicit messages with three persons, whilst on duty. A prosecution lawyer told the court there is a case to answer in respect of both sets of charges.

Ainscough chose not to call witnesses or give evidence on his own behalf at this stage in proceedings. He was remanded on £500 bail with conditions including surrender of his passport, a ban on leaving the North of Ireland and twice weekly signing with police. In addition he must not be in possession of any device capable of accessing the internet nor have any the internet whatsoever, including mobile phones or a sim card or an electronic device. The case will next appear at Craigavon Crown Court next month.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.

Mother of Óglach Pearce Jordan murdered by the RUC fails in bid to quash inquest verdict

MURDERED: Pearse Jordan

The mother of an IRA man shot dead by police has failed in a new legal bid to have the inquest verdict quashed.

Teresa Jordan claimed the coroner was wrong in finding it impossible to determine with certainty what happened when her son Pearse was killed by an RUC officer 26 years ago.

But judges in the Court of Appeal rejected arguments that a failure to decide on central issues surrounding the lawfulness of the shooting in west Belfast amounted to an abdication of responsibility.

Lord Justice Stephens said: “We are satisfied that the coroner demonstrated that he had striven hard to make a finding about the various issues and that he had explained the basis for his conclusion that it was not possible for him to do do.”

The ruling represents a further blow for the family’s attempts to secure another examination into the circumstances surrounding a shooting they believe was unjustified.

Pearse Jordan’s death was one of several high-profile cases in Northern Ireland involving allegations the RUC were involved in shoot-to-kill incidents.

The 22-year-old had been driving a hijacked car stopped by police in an anti-terrorist operation in November 1992.

He was shot after getting out on the Falls Road and trying to run away, unarmed.

In November 2016 the coroner overseeing a fresh inquest into the death said he was not convinced either by family claims that Jordan was gunned down in cold blood, or by police assertions that the RUC sergeant who opened fire acted in self-defence.

He held that the State had failed to prove the use of lethal force was lawful, but concluded that the precise circumstances of how the IRA man met his death remains unknown.

Teresa Jordan, mother of Pearse Jordan, pictured in 2009.

Mrs Jordan’s lawyers claimed the disputed issues of fact should have been resolved in the evidence.

Ballistic evidence was disregarded without evaluation or explanation, along with an alleged failure to apply the identified standard of proof to issues in the case, they contend.

Mrs Jordan was seeking a declaration that the inquest was unfair, unlawful and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Last year, the High Court dismissed her case after counsel for the coroner insisted he had been best placed to reach conclusions about the facts and assess the credibility of witnesses during 16 days of evidence.

Appealing that ruling, her lawyers insisted there had been a legal obligation to make every effort to arrive at a conclusion.

They submitted that the reasons given by the coroner for his failure to reach a conclusion were insufficient.

However, the Court of Appeal held that there was a positive obligation to consider the “third possible outcome” of being unsure about what exactly occurred – provided reasons were given for being undecided.

Dismissing the case, Lord Justice Stephens confirmed: “We consider that there is no arguable case that he abdicated his duty in the conduct of this inquest.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original posting.

‘Any Taig Will Do’. Courts Call Bullshit On Paramilitary Crime Task Force.

Tarlach MacDhónaill is scathing of a PSNI scam in West Belfast.

RUC/PSNI Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton.

Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton was once literally a ‘Bobby’, patrolling the Lower Falls area of West Belfast and getting to know, no doubt, all the main names of the ‘underground’ world in that district.

In all likelihood then, the well-groomed PSNI golden boy knew full well, that none of those arrested in his old stomping ground on September 30th, (one of whom was charged with possession of a large amount of Cocaine) had any connection to the Irish National Liberation Army.

Yet Bobby Singleton now leads the PSNI’s ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’ which has been granted £25 Million over the period of five years as part of the Fresh Start Agreement, such figures demand results or at least the perception of results.

In a bizarre sequence of events on Tuesday last, charges against three Belfast men of ‘Conspiracy to rob a Boojum burrito bar’ were shot out of the sky by a Judge at first hearing due to the absence of that most basic Judicial requirement called evidence. One of the three was then remanded on a separate charge of possessing Cocaine with intent to supply. £140 000 worth of Cocaine.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party then released a statement in which they stated their belief that the PSNI had concocted a ‘sham charge’ against all three men and in so doing had dragged “two unconnected individuals into the dock, alongside a person separately charged with possession of Cocaine”, all in an attempt to create the impression of a collective conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in West Belfast.

In a PSNI press statement released on the morning of the arrests, Singleton had claimed that his force had been involved in an operation ‘focused on the criminal activities of the Belfast INLA.’ It succeeded in creating banner headlines and no doubt gave large sections of the public the general impression that the Belfast INLA was somehow and somewhere involved in the supply of Class A drugs.

Such an allegation would have had an obvious negative impact on the IRSP in West Belfast. Some weeks earlier their activists had made the front page of the local Andersonstown News for smashing a Cocaine supply operation in the same Divis area in which the latest Drug find in question had occurred.

Within that article, concerned parents of several local youths (victims of a predatory West Belfast drugs ring) claimed to have turned to the IRSP for help as they had (in their own words) ‘absolutely no faith’ in the PSNI.

The IRSP clearly believe now that Bobby Singleton has attempted to smear Republican Socialism in the Divis area by wrongly implicating the INLA in the very activity that the party were claiming to successfully oppose in the absence of local support for the PSNI – Drug dealing.

Their theory holds (at the very least) as much credence as the conspiracy charges which Singleton unsuccessfully tried to put before Judge Fiona Bagnall during his now doomed operation. The pressure which his ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’ no doubt comes under to be seen ‘balance the books’ following months of high-profile actions against Loyalist paramilitaries, gives further weight to IRSP suggestions that in the absence of genuine Republican ‘Paramilitary Crime’, Bobby Singleton has instead taken an ‘Any Taig will do’ attitude towards the latest wave of arrests and raids on their members houses and offices. Indeed, what better Taigs to raise headlines with than suspected supporters of the INLA?

It was highly unusual, indeed unheard of for any Judge to summarily dismiss allegations of the PSNI in a remand hearing allegedly involving Anti-Good Friday Republican ‘Paramilitaries’. It may indeed be the first case of its kind since 1998.

Yet the PSNI, until now, have relied upon both a compliant judiciary and a compliant press to create and promote narratives that they wish to be accepted in the public eye, the IRSP’s rebuffing of Bobby Singleton’s grandiose claims is unlikely to attract any mainstream press interest whatsoever and the IRSP will no doubt suffer negative public perceptions as a result.

Bobby Singleton is aware of this uneven power dynamic. He (and MI5 who command the Police service of which he is a part) is also aware of the growing support which a rejuvenated IRSP are gaining in communities such as Divis and the Lower Falls, the product of a wave of local, national and international political activities which the party has recently undertaken in what can be described as a ‘Peace Process’ of their own liking.

This is not the first time that the ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’ has used such broad stroke tactics against the Republican Socialist Movement. During the past year in both Derry and Belfast, targets of seemingly Bona Fide Policing operations have been arrested and had their homes searched simultaneously to members of the IRSP, with following far stretched press releases enough to brand the operations in questions “Investigations into the Criminal activities of the INLA”.

A modus operandi is being firmly established as are twin aims, the undermining of a political movement which the state has hated since its inception and (Just as importantly for Bobby Singleton) the public perception of a crack down on Irish Republicans, as opposed to ‘just Loyalists’.

Had the individual arrested for possession of Class A drugs been charged and remanded alone, it would have been viewed publicly as just another drug arrest in West Belfast. Yet a few more Catholics in the back of police cars, along with the right type of press briefings, were all that were needed to make this a political publicity coup for the ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’.

All the usual pieces of the Jigsaw were in place for Bobby Singleton in this instance. Wth the headline already floated by the Press, all that was required was the rubber stamping of a Judge and the appearance of an INLA criminal clampdown would be complete. In most cases the PSNI can rely on such rubber stamps without question.

Unfortunately for Bobby Singleton, it appears that a feisty female Belfast Judge had other ideas and put the requirement for evidence before the prominence of one department’s financial and political agenda.

Bullshit was called on the political antics of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force, and now inevitable questions around abuses of power, abuse of public funds, possible sectarianism and blatant lies told to the West Belfast community, will increasingly come to the fore.

➽Tarlach MacDhónaill is an activist with the North Belfast IRSP.

With many thanks to the: Anthony McIntyre and The Pensive Quill for the original posting.