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Police seek meeting with PPS over death of man in hospital

Tracy Carnahan outside court in Belfast yesterday after the preliminary hearing into the death of her son Sean Paul. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

POLICE have said they "intend to submit documents" to the Public Prosecution Service over the death of a west Belfast man who died while being treated in hospital.

Sean Paul Carnahan died in July 2013 at Belfast City Hospital after being treated for four months for a brain injury he suffered after attempting to take his own life.

The 22 year-old, from Beechmount Grove in west Belfast, had earlier taken drugs known as legal highs.

His family later made a “statement of complaint” to police alleging “negligence” on the part of the hospital.

At a preliminary inquest hearing on Tuesday a police officer said he had received further statements from the family.

And in their strongest indication yet that they intend to pursue a prosecution, the officer said he was continuing to seek a meeting with the PPS to discuss whether criminal charges should be brought in the case.

At the hearing in Belfast PSNO sergeant Brian Wilson said: "We have an additional statement from Ms Carnahan and a further statement from another member of the family, and I have requested a meeting with the PPS to see how we proceed, and intend to submit documents to them."

However he said another witness who was involved "is now refusing to assist police with enquiries and has indicated they do not wish to proceed."

Coroner Brian Sherrard said that "Rome wasn't built in a day" and added that there were "complex issues at play."

He said: "It is a tense time for everybody. This is not like an assault outside a bar or a burglary, this involves difficult and complex concepts for police.

"I would be confident that the PPS will not have a decision within eight weeks, but I am minded to allow Sergeant Wilson the opportunity to look into this matter."

The case was adjourned until March 16 .

Speaking after yesterday's hearing, Ms Carnahan said: "Today’s preliminary hearing by the coroner acknowledged significant progress towards truth and justice for Sean Paul."

A recent review of Mr Carnahan's case, carried out by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, made nine recommendations.

It also "identified a number of actions/omissions which may have contributed to a negative outcome for the patient".

Family solicitor Aiden Carlin welcomed progress in the case saying "the family is not only entitled to the truth but also justice."

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