Northern Ireland news

Concerned parent called PSNI about Greenvale disco on day three teenagers died in crush

Connor Currie (16), Lauren Bullock (17) and Morgan Barnard (17) died during a crush at the Greenvale Hotel on St Patrick's night
Connla Young

A parent raised concerns with police about a disco at the Greenvale Hotel on the day three teenagers died in a crush outside the venue.

Morgan Barnard (17), Lauren Bullock (17) and 16-year-old Connor Currie died as they queued to gain entry to the Cookstown hotel on St Patrick’s night.

It is understood that police originally said they did not know an event was taking place on that date.

However, it is believed that officers have since confirmed they received a call of concern from a member of the public just hours before the disco.

It has also been claimed that complaints about the nightspot were made to police and the local council dating back possibly as far back as 2013.

Analysis: Police Ombudsman investigation into Greenvale is vital

It is alleged these concerns focused on overcrowding and underage drinking.

It is also believed that police and council officials have previously met with residents to discuss issues around the hotel.

The Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown. Picture by Mark Marlow

Details of what happened the night the three teenagers died have been revealed during the course of several meetings between police and the parents of Morgan Barnard - James Bradley and Maria Barnard - in recent weeks.

A meeting is due to take place today involving Mr Bradley, his solicitor Darragh Mackin and officials from the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

Mr Mackin last night said the recent revelations have been “distressing” for Morgan’s family.

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“Here we have even more troubling and potentially important information emerging about the events of that night,” he said.

“Morgan’s family simply want to know the truth, they want to know the circumstances of their son’s death and they want accountability.

Morgan Barnard

“Our concerns and expectations will be raised with the Police Ombudsman when we meet officials.”

The Greenvale Hotel is located in the old Cookstown District Council area, which merged with two other councils to form Mid Ulster District Council in 2015.

The council is responsible for licensing entertainment venues across the sprawling district.

In April the owner of the Greenvale Hotel, Michael McElhatton, agreed to restrict events on his premises to weddings and private functions for six months, with no further discos to be held.

The Irish News revealed this week that PSNI officers who initially attended the hotel failed to intervene for 16 minutes.

It has emerged that four officers travelling in two vehicles, with two in each, arrived at the hotel at 9.29pm on the night of the tragedy.

It is understood a decision was taken to leave the hotel car park at 9.34pm after an officer had a telephone conversation with Mr McElhatton.

Officers then moved to the nearby Drum Road area where they waited before returning to the venue on foot at 9.45pm.

Police have previously said they made attempts to establish more detail and withdrew to await further support before moving forward in support of the first ambulance.

CCTV footage seized by police from the hotel appears to show a youth, believed to be Morgan Barnard, being carried from a ‘surging’ crowd by other young people and hotel door staff - five minutes before police returned but 11 minutes after they initially arrived on scene.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

Last month outgoing PSNI chief constable George Hamilton apologised to Morgan’s grieving parents after he described officers who attended the scene before leaving as “brave”.

Morgan’s father James Bradley has asked if lives could have been saved.

“It is now clear that there are real questions to be asked arising out of the events that nights,” he said.

“We need to know if our son and other children’s lives could have been saved.

“There are the questions that need answered.”

Independent councillor Barry Monteith last night said the relatives of those who died “are entitled to full disclosure and full information as to what happened".

“This needs to move towards a public inquiry,” he said.

“A public inquiry will examine every aspect of this and to me this is where this is heading towards.

“At this stage it’s totally unsatisfactory that these people seem to have to dig information out of the PSNI.

“On a weekly basis there are further revelations of the horror of that night.”

A spokesman for the PSNI last night said: “An ongoing investigation is currently being carried out by the office of the Police Ombudsman, and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Mid Ulster District Council said: “The council is assisting in the police investigation into the tragic events at the Greenvale Hotel and has also initiated an investigation, as enforcing authority, under the Health and Safety at Work NI Order (1978).

“Given that these are live investigations, it would be inappropriate for the council to make any comment.”

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