19/03/2019

Cookstown Tragedy: Over 160 Witnesses Traced

Police investigating the deaths of three teenagers in a crush at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown have identified over 160 witnesses.

The community is mourning the loss of 16-year-old Connor Currie from the Dungannon area, 17-year-old Lauren Bullock from the Donaghmore area and 17-year-old Morgan Barnard also from the Dungannon area, after the tragic event on Sunday 17 March when as many as 400 young people became involved in a crush while waiting to enter a St Patrick's Day party.

Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray, Head of Serious Crime Branch, gave an update into the major investigation: "Over a day into our investigation I can tell you we have already traced the identities of over 160 witnesses and have already spoken to a number of young people who were in the queue at the Greenvale Hotel on Sunday night. Arrangements have been made to speak to many more over the coming days.

"I want to thank everyone who has spoken with us so far, however, there is still a significant number of people who were there that night, in the queue, and I need them to come forward to speak to police so we can understand what happened. Initial CCTV viewing would lead us to estimate that perhaps as many as 400 people were in the queue or car park at that time."

Superintendent Murray reassured parents that the issue of underaged children trying to enter a licensed premises would not be the focus of the investigation.

"It is about trying to find answers for the families of the three teenagers who tragically died," he continued. "We need to know what you saw so the heartbroken families of Connor, Lauren and Morgan know what happened to their children.
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"I would urge parents to talk with your children, support them and encourage them to come forward and tell their story to police so we can get an accurate picture of events that night.

"Talk to your children, reassure them- we know they may be scared- but again I can assure you we are only interested in establishing what happened. Their account of events on Sunday night could be crucial to establishing how Connor, Lauren and Morgan died."

Anyone with information can get in touch via the following methods:

• Contact detectives at the dedicated incident room at Dungannon police station by calling 101, extension 53055.

• Visit the dedicated room at the Burnavon Arts Centre in Cookstown, open from 10am on Tuesday 19 March.

• Anyone with information, images or footage can pass it to police via this link.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill, an MLA for the area, expressed her condolences following the tragic deaths.

She said: "There is a deep sense of shock in the local community following an incident in Cookstown where three people have tragically died attending a St Patrick's Day event. What is supposed to be a day of celebration has ended in heartbreak and sadness for those involved.

"My thoughts and prayers today are with the families and friends of those killed in this tragic incident. I also want to wish a speedy recovery to the young people injured and those who witnessed the incident, we will work to ensure they have the services and support necessary to deal with the trauma of this tragedy in the time ahead.

"I have met with the PSNI to discuss what needs to be done and while the full facts are not yet clear, police investigations to establish exactly happened are now underway.

"I would urge anyone with information to bring it forward."



(JG/CM)

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