Two men to be charged over Cookstown disco deaths

September 5, 2022

[Northern Ireland] Two men are each to be charged with three counts of gross negligence manslaughter over a fatal crush outside a disco in Cookstown three years ago.

Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died as hundreds of people queued at the doors of the Greenvale Hotel on 17 March 2019.

It is understood that one of the men is the hotel owner Michael McElhatton. He and the other man, aged 43, are due to be charged after the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) examined evidence files.

The company that runs the Greenvale Hotel, known as Tobin Limited, will also face a charge of contravening health and safety legislation.

Prosecutors had been deliberating over evidence contained in two files submitted in the course of the past two years. The first contained details of a criminal investigation conducted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Police previously stated that they took 1,300 witness statements and specially-trained officers interviewed more than 140 young people.

The second file dealt with an investigation by the Police Ombudsman into the conduct of several officers, including the first to arrive at the hotel. They withdrew from the scene of the crush to await back-up.

In the files submitted to the PPS, the PSNI reported 11 members of the public for consideration, while the Police Ombudsman reported five police officers. The PPS has decided not to prosecute nine of the members of the public or the police officers.

Senior prosecutor Graham Cardwell said the families of the teenagers had “suffered a painful loss.” He thanked them for their patience while the evidence was examined. He said it had been a “significant task” to assess the evidence before deciding whether there was a “reasonable prospect of conviction in relation to each suspect.”

Criminal proceedings will begin in due course.

The five police officers who were reported to the PPS were investigated for the offence of misconduct in public office. Mr. Cardwell said the threshold for prosecution for that offence was high. “The evidence was not capable of establishing any bad faith or improper motive in the actions of police at the scene or that they wilfully ignored a high-risk situation of which they were aware.”

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson, who originally examined the conduct of the officers, had assessed witness statements, interviews with officers, forensics, phone call recordings and CCTV footage. She said that following the decision by the PPS not to prosecute the officers, she would now consider whether there had been any professional misconduct. “Where there are grounds to do so, I will make appropriate recommendations to the chief constable.”

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the PSNI would “await receipt of [the Police Ombudsman’s] report and any recommendations.”

 

This is valid as of 5th September 2022.

[Northern Ireland] Two men are each to be charged with three counts of gross negligence manslaughter over a fatal crush outside a disco in Cookstown three years ago.
Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died as hundreds of people queued at the doors of the Greenvale Hotel on 17 March 2019. It is understood that one of the men is the hotel owner Michael McElhatton. He and the other man, aged 43, are due to be charged after the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) examined evidence files. The company that runs the Greenvale Hotel, known as Tobin Limited, will also face a charge of contravening health and safety legislation. Prosecutors had been deliberating over evidence contained in two files submitted in the course of the past two years. The first contained details of a criminal investigation conducted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Police previously stated that they took 1,300 witness statements and specially-trained officers interviewed more than 140 young people. The second file dealt with an investigation by the Police Ombudsman into the conduct of several officers, including the first to arrive at the hotel. They withdrew from the scene of the crush to await back-up. In the files submitted to the PPS, the PSNI reported 11 members of the public for consideration, while the Police Ombudsman reported five police officers. The PPS has decided not to prosecute nine of the members of the public or the police officers. Senior prosecutor Graham Cardwell said the families of the teenagers had “suffered a painful loss.” He thanked them for their patience while the evidence was examined. He said it had been a “significant task” to assess the evidence before deciding whether there was a “reasonable prospect of conviction in relation to each suspect.” Criminal proceedings will begin in due course. The five police officers who were reported to the PPS were investigated for the offence of misconduct in public office. Mr. Cardwell said the threshold for prosecution for that offence was high. “The evidence was not capable of establishing any bad faith or improper motive in the actions of police at the scene or that they wilfully ignored a high-risk situation of which they were aware.” Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson, who originally examined the conduct of the officers, had assessed witness statements, interviews with officers, forensics, phone call recordings and CCTV footage. She said that following the decision by the PPS not to prosecute the officers, she would now consider whether there had been any professional misconduct. “Where there are grounds to do so, I will make appropriate recommendations to the chief constable.” Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the PSNI would “await receipt of [the Police Ombudsman's] report and any recommendations.”  

This is valid as of 5th September 2022.

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