No Police Wrongdoing In Belfast Hostel Incident- Ombudsman

A police officer accused of assaulting a man outside a hostel in Belfast has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Police Ombudsman's office.

A complaint was lodged after an incident in May last year, when two officers attended the hostel in Belfast City Centre on an unrelated matter.

One was accused of "swiping the feet from under" the complainant and knocking him to the ground, before lifting him by the handcuffs, taking him to the ground again and forcibly holding him down by pressing his knee into his temple.

The man added that after he was placed in a cell van to be transported, the same officer held his head to the floor once again.

As part of their investigations Police Ombudsman staff reviewed CCTV footage of the area which covered the entirety of the incident outside the hostel. Investigators also took a statement from a staff member who had witnessed the event before formally interviewing the officer in question.

The CCTV footage highlighted several inconsistencies in the account given by the complainant who said he had been arrested by uniformed officers and placed in a cell van. The footage showed that they were in plain clothes and he had been placed in a Land Rover.
News Image
It was also clear that the man had been acting aggressively and may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol as he was unsteady on his feet and at one stage had walked into the road causing passing vehicles to brake.

A hostel staff member who witnessed the incident said the man had been refused entry but had then tried to push past the two officers who had been dealing with a separate issue. He said that the man had been aggressive and that a struggle had ensued when the officers went to arrest him but he did not believe that excessive force had been used.

During formal interview with Police Ombudsman staff the police officer denied assaulting the man. He said that as the man had been acting aggressively he had held his arms to prevent an assault. He was then taken to the ground where he was handcuffed and restrained until other officers arrived. He added that due to the man's continued aggression, leg restraints were applied before he was placed in the police Land Rover.

As assault is a criminal allegation, a file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service who directed no prosecution.

A review of the evidence showed no misconduct on the part of the officer who had fully justified his use of force and whose account had been corroborated by CCTV footage.

The case was subsequently closed.


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

06 August 2014
Police Vehicle Contracts Arrest - Man Released
A 54-year-old member of police staff who was arrested in County Antrim as part of ongoing investigations into the awarding of vehicle contracts has been released. The man was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office and has been taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning.
30 October 2003
Man arrested over Electoral Office fraud
A 58-year-old man from Co Tyrone has been arrested and charged following a police investigation into irregularities at an Electoral Office in the west of the province. The man was charged with 30 offences, 17 of which relate to theft and 13 of fake accounting. He will appear before a court in Omagh on November 11.
08 October 2014
Police Cancel Appeal For Missing Omagh Man
Police have said they believe missing Omagh man, Shane Sharkey, has been found in the Republic of Ireland. A police appeal for help in finding the 35-year-old has been cancelled, with police saying they now believe they know where he is. No further details have been released but police thanked the public for their help.
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.
28 March 2007
House of Lords vote for ‘50/50’ police force
The House of Lords has renewed the 50/50 recruitment rule for the PSNI by a majority of 44. It puts into practice a recommendation made in 1999 by Lord Patten that the local police force should be split evenly between Catholics and Protestants. The result of the vote was 141 to 97.