Northern Ireland news

PSNI officer disciplined after elderly man almost prosecuted over parking row

A PSNI officer has been disciplined following a Police Ombudsman investigation

A POLICE officer has been disciplined after an elderly man was almost prosecuted despite being told he would not face charges over a parking row.

The Police Ombudsman revealed details of the case yesterday and revealed the officer had failed to take a key statement from a witness.

The ombudsman's office said the pensioner had allegedly assaulted a woman during a disagreement about parking in Co Antrim last year.

The man said after he had been interviewed, a police officer reassured him "everything would be alright" but he later received a letter telling him he was to be prosecuted.

When interviewed, the investigating police officer said he had tried to put the man's mind at rest by telling him he would be recommending no prosecution.

He said when he learned the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) had decided to prosecute, he told them it was the wrong decision and did not think the pensioner would have been capable of the offence.

After learning that the decision to prosecute was based on the word of two people against one, the officer took a statement from the man's wife and submitted it to the PPS.

The PPS later decided not to go ahead with the prosecution.

The officer said he had considered taking a statement from the man's wife from the beginning, but after interviewing her husband did not think it was necessary.

However, the Police Ombudsman investigator said if the statement had been submitted in the initial file to the PPS, the elderly man would not had to worry about a possible prosecution.

The investigator said the statement was "evidentially important" and the officer's failure to record it meant that he had failed to conduct "all reasonable lines of enquiry".

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