'No One Protected' In Murder Probe - Ombudsman

Police carried out a "comprehensive" investigation into the murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast, according to a watchdog report.

The Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire emphasised that nobody was protected in the murder probe in January 2005.

Mr McCartney, 33, was fatally beaten and stabbed outside Magennis's bar in Belfast, near his home. IRA members were suspected of involvement in the killing.

The report said: "The police investigation of events that night was complex, with what can best be described as some unique obstacles, including a reluctance by some witnesses to give evidence and concerns about the credibility of others."

Dr Maguire added that while the family of Mr McCartney may feel they have been failed by the criminal justice system, there is no evidence that police played any part in that failure.
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The Ombudsman's Office received a series of complaints about how police conducted the investigation in 2005, including allegations that those responsible may have been informants who were protected from justice.

"A lot of the public discussion on what happened has focused on events in Magennis's bar, although Robert and his friends were subjected to a brutal attack in a busy street close to city centre.

"The McCartney family may have comforted themselves with the thought that the very public nature of the attack would in itself have helped find and convict those responsible.

"I can only begin to understand their frustration when this did not happen."

The watchdog report found that the alleged delay in police arriving at the bar was not due to inefficiency, and investigators established that the equivalent of three industrial bins of material were recovered from the scenes and extensive DNA testing was carried out on blood matter.

It was also confirmed that police went to "considerable lengths" to identify everyone who had been in Magennis's bar before the murder, and extensive interviews and searches were carried out to find the origins and whereabouts of the knife used.


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