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Emails of police officer who took his own life in PSNI station `not accessed during investigation'

Mr Magowan had only returned to work at the station after a period of sick leave shortly before he took his own life

A CORONER said he found it "strange" that a PSNI investigation into how one of its inspectors was able to shoot himself inside a police station with another officer's weapon never looked at his email account.

Paddy McGurgan made the comment at a preliminary hearing ahead of the March 2018 inquest into the death of Peter Magowan at Ballymoney PSNI station.

It is understood that Mr Magowan had only returned to work after a period of sick leave shortly before he took his own life in the toilets on April 18 2016.

While his own personal protection weapon had reportedly not yet been returned to him but due to his rank, the senior officer had access to other officers' firearms.

The father-of-two had only recently been posted to the Co Antrim station.

The coroner was heavily critical of police delays in providing documents to the court, saying his office was getting important disclosure evidence "in dribs and drabs".

The court heard that the latest tranche of evidence had only been handed over the day before yesterday's hearing.

"This is madness," he said.

"I'm being told about the lack of resources police are facing on a daily basis. Here we have a situation where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

"It just seems to me to take forever."

Mr McGurgan said he wanted the rest of the evidence "in a timely fashion", adding "it strikes me that minds only seem to be paying attention to this case when there's a preliminary hearing listed".

"There's no one more frustrated about dribs and drabs in disclosure than me," he said.

"It just strikes me as out of that on the last two occasions the day before the preliminary hearing these disclosures appear."

PSNI counsel Mark Robinson said one officer involved had gone on maternity leave and another had retired and it had taken time to get a "clear picture", but "that exercise is now concluded".

He told the court "police have recently obtained access to Inspector Magowan's email system that contains a substantial number of emails not accessed during the investigation".

Counsel for Mr Magowan's family Ian Skelt said he "wholeheartedly (endorses) a review of the emails".

"I'm not sure why it hasn't been done," he said.

"It seems strange to me, as well," Mr McGurgan replied.

He insisted that "all disclosure" must be dealt with "within 14 days" ahead of the March 12 scheduled date for the inquest.

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