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Police response to hotel crush referred to Ombudsman

The scene of the tragic crush in which three teenagers died at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone. Credit: Presseye

The Chief Constable has referred the initial response of police to the tragic crush at a Cookstown hotel to the Ombudsman for investigation.

Three teenagers died in the crush at the Greenvale Hotel on St Patrick’s Day.

On Tuesday, PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin confirmed that a review of the initial police response had resulted in the decision to involve the Ombudsman’s Office.

“The ongoing investigation into the tragic events at the Greenvale Hotel is active and wide ranging,” he said.

“As part of that investigation, it is right and proper that the actions of all those involved are considered.”

Outlining the response on the night in question, Deputy Chief Constable Martin said: “The first police officers arrived at the hotel grounds shortly after receiving the 999 report.

“Following their initial assessment, they made attempts to establish more detail and information about what was happening and subsequently withdrew to await further police support.

“When the first ambulance arrived, police moved forward in support of them.”

He added: “The timing and nature of police actions during this period require further investigation to fully establish the facts.

“The Chief Constable has therefore decided that the initial police response should be subject to independent scrutiny and it is in the public interest to refer the circumstances and the nature of the actions of the first officers arriving at the scene to the Police Ombudsman.”

The families affected by the tragedy have been informed of the development.

Hundreds of people turned out last week for the funerals of the three young victims - Morgan Barnard and Lauren Bullock, both aged 17, and 16-year-old Connor Currie.

Deputy Chief Constable Martin said: “The confidence of the families and the confidence of the communities we serve are at the forefront of our minds in our decision to refer this matter to the Police Ombudsman.

“We will work with the Ombudsman to support whatever action he undertakes and would ask that people do not speculate or prejudge the outcome of the Ombudsman’s investigation.”

A Police Ombudsman spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the families who have been so tragically bereaved.

“Our investigators have now begun gathering information about the initial sequence of events, and have appealed for witnesses to contact them. They are keen to hear from anyone who saw police in the area of the Greenvale Hotel on St Patrick’s evening, 17 March.

“Our investigators can be contacted by email at the following address: witnessappeal@policeombudsman.org.

“It would be helpful if anyone contacting us can include a contact telephone number in their email.”