23/06/2016

Police Officers Disciplined For Failing To Tell Doctor About Woman's Head Injuries

Two police officers have been disciplined after they failed to let their colleagues and a police doctor know that a woman had sustained a head injury, a Police Ombudsman investigation has concluded.

The woman died from bleeding to the brain on 24 February 2014, the day after she suffered the injury.

The previous day, police had been called to an address in Omagh. The call was made by the woman's partner, who asked that they remove her and another man from a house.

One of the officers who went to the scene said the woman reported that her partner had grabbed her by the hair, struck her head against a wall and then thrown her outside, into the garden. Another officer was present when she reported the assault. The woman later said her head was sore.

Her partner was arrested and taken into custody at Enniskillen police station, while arrangements were made for the woman to be seen by a police doctor at Omagh police station.

The police doctor who carried out the examination said he had not been made aware the woman, who had been drinking, had suffered a head injury.

After the woman had been seen by the doctor and had her injuries photographed, two police officers set off in a police car with the intention of taking her to a friend's house.

One of them was the officer the woman had initially spoken to about the head injury. She told Police Ombudsman investigators that by that stage the woman had become more unsteady on her feet and was "less chatty".
News Image
The other officer, who was unaware of the head injury, said the woman appeared very intoxicated and recalled saying he was surprised the doctor had allowed her to leave the police station.

A short time later the woman was sick in the back of the police car and the officers called an ambulance. She was taken to hospital, but died the following afternoon.

The Chief Constable referred the police handling of the incident to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.

The police officer who made the appointment for the woman to be medically examined accepted that she did not tell the police officer she spoke to at Omagh, or the police doctor, that the woman had reported having her head hit off a wall.

The officer also accepted that, although she was aware the woman had had previous dealings with the Domestic Violence Unit, she did not make the information known to her colleagues, believing this could have been examined and progressed at a later stage.

The other officer who was present when the woman reported the assault said he could not recall if he advised the doctor or colleagues about the reported head injury.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said the evidence would indicate that the officer did not relay the information.

Dr Maguire said it was clear both the officers who knew the woman had sustained a head injury should have informed the police doctor and colleagues.

As well as recommending disciplinary action against two police officers, Dr Maguire also recommended that the PSNI should review the practice of people with injuries being taken to see a police doctor rather than to the hospital. Officers reported that they did this to prevent delays in obtaining medical reports.

(CD/LM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

14 May 2012
Seven Police Officers Disciplined Over Pensioner's Death
Seven police officers have been disciplined over an investigation into the death of Lisburn man Jim Heasley in October 2010. The 70-year-old was assaulted as he walked home from Lagan Valley Pigeon Club. An investigation by the Police Ombudsman found a series of failings in the initial police response.
04 September 2009
PSNI Cuts Uproar
An already financially beleaguered police service is facing fresh cutbacks. As a result, the Northern Ireland Policing Board is to challenge the Government over proposed £17m cuts in the police service budget. Members are expected to hold a crunch meeting with the NIO Security Minister, it has been announced.
02 April 2002
Trimble praises work of Northern Ireland Police Fund
Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble has paid a visit to the offices of the Northern Ireland Police Fund which was set up to provide support for disabled police officers as well as for the families of murdered police officers.
15 December 2015
Woman Arrested Over Peggy O'Hara Funeral
A 51-year-old woman has been arrested in relation to offences at the wake and funeral of Peggy O'Hara in July. The woman was arrested in L'Derry and has been detained at Musgrave Police Station. Peggy O'Hara was the mother of an INLA member who died in a hunger strike in Long Kesh in 1981.
01 December 2014
Woman Sexually Assaulted In Omagh
Police have appealed for information after a 24-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in Omagh. The attack is thought to have happened in a walkway in the Johnston Park area between 1am and 3am on Sunday (30 November). Detectives want to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time, or who may be able to assist the investigation.
11 June 2003
Pensioner attacked during burglary of her home
A 90-year-old woman was assaulted during a burglary of her home in Ballygowan, Co Down last night. The woman was confronted by a teenager after hearing noise in her kitchen. The youth then assaulted the elderly woman before escaping into an alley at the back of the house. Police believe an accomplice then joined the assailant.
05 July 2002
Man arrested after woman dies in collision
A 61-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a fatal road accident in County Down. A woman, believed to be in her 50s, was hit by a vehicle on the Comber Road in Newtownards at about 9.45pm last night. The victim’s name has not yet been released.
01 August 2003
Injured female police officer regains consciousness
The police officer who was left severely injured when an attacker beat her about the head with an iron bar has regained consciousness. The 54-year-old female officer was attacked by the man in the early hours of Monday morning whilst on duty inside Lisburn Police Station.
15 May 2015
Man's Body Recovered From Bangor Marina
Police have launched an investigation after the body of a man was recovered from Bangor Marina on Wednesday, 13 May. Police received a report that a man had entered the water shortly after 10.15am. Emergency services and police attended the scene and the body was recovered from the water. Police are not treating the death as suspicious.
02 November 2011
All Ireland Police Team Tackles GB
The newly branded Ireland Police Rugby team will take on a British Police Select Team at Newforge in Belfast later today. The Ireland Police Rugby Team is a combination of members of An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
04 September 2007
NI Policing Board Seeks Custody Visitors
The Northern Ireland Policing Board has launched a campaign to recruit Custody Visitors to join the Board’s Custody Visiting Scheme. The volunteer scheme, which operates throughout Northern Ireland, is a means of monitoring how people who are held in police custody are treated.
03 July 2007
Man questioned about 1988 murder
A man has been arrested in connection with police inquiries into a murder in 1988. The body of Lily Smyth, 66, was found in her flat at Moveen House in Dunmurry on October 9, 1988. The pensioner had been strangled. A police spokesperson said that a 43-year-old man had been arrested and is being questioned at Antrim Police Station.
20 February 2004
Security Minister welcomes police training college decision
Security Minister Jane Kennedy has welcomed the Policing Board's decision to locate the new police training college in Cookstown, Co Tyrone. The new centre will built on a 210-acre site beside a food science centre at Desertcreat on the outskirts of the town and is expected to open in 2007 at a projected cost of about £80m.
24 July 2002
Police Ombudsman’s report laid before parliament
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr John Reid, has unveiled The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland’s first annual report before Parliament on Monday July 23. The report covers the Police Ombudsman office’s discharge of its functions during the first 17 months since it was established in November 2000.
17 August 2001
Policing plan for Northern Ireland is announced
Secretary of State Dr John Reid announced the updated policing plan for Northern Ireland on Friday.