Northern Ireland news

Three police officers accused of providing 'incorrect' evidence to a court suspended

Camera footage show PSNI officers standing at a car driven by IRSP member James McElkerney
Connla Young

Three police officers accused of providing an "incorrect account" of an incident to a court have been suspended.

The case, which was heard last November, involved west Belfast IRSP member James McElkerney.

The former prisoner was prosecuted for a driving offence after he was stopped by police at Oranmore Street, off the Springfield Road, last April.

Two of the officers alleged that prior to being stopped the west Belfast man had given the fingers to the Land Rover they were travelling in.

The IRSP man was later acquitted after video evidence of the encounter between him and police was shown to the court.

In statements the three officers, who are attached to Woodbourne PSNI station, claimed that a car driven by Mr McElkerney collided with one of them.

The officer said the vehicle driven by McElKerney collided with both his legs.

A second officer alleged the car "drove forward with its offside front door still open striking" the other policeman "at his legs with some force."

A third constable said the open drivers door collided with his colleague.

While a recording of the encounter, seen by the Irish News, between McElkerney and police is partially obstructed, it appears to show that no contact took place.

The Irish News understands the footage was captured by a camera attached to a nearby property and later produced in the court by the defence team.

It is understood that when McElKerney was acquitted the judge asked for a report to be sent to the Public Prosecution Service which, along with the video evidence, was reviewed by a senior prosecutor.

The matter was also referred to the Police Ombudsman.

The ombudsman’s office has confirmed that it is investigating a complaint "that three officers provided evidence to a court based on an incorrect account of an incident."

A spokesman for the PSNI said the three officers have been suspended.

"Their duty status is kept under constant review," he said.

A spokeswoman for the PPS said: "As the matter is now the subject of a complaint to the Police Ombudsman, it would not be appropriate to comment any further."

McElkerney is a brother of former INLA prisoner Martin McElkerney, who died after taking his own life in Milltown Cemetery last year.

His solicitor, Philip Breen, of Breen, Rankin, Lenzi, last night said: “For such a minor offence these three police officers are facing investigation for very grave matters.”

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