Northern Ireland news

Family of Greenvale teenager left 'devastated' after it emerges files have not been sent to PPS

Police remain at the Greenvale Hotel scene Picture Mal McCann.
Connla Young

The father of a teenager who died in the Greenvale Hotel crush almost a year ago has said his family has been left ‘devastated and re-traumatised’ after it emerged that PSNI reports linked to the case have not been sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

James Bradley’s son Morgan Barnard (17) was one of three teenagers who died as hundreds of young people queued to get into the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on March 17 last year.

The other victims were Lauren Bullock (17) and 16-year-old Connor Currie.

Mr Bradley spoke out last night after it emerged that to date police have not forwarded any files linked to the case to prosecutors.

It has also emerged that in recent weeks solicitors for the family have written to justice minister Naomi Long requesting a meeting over the concerns about the case

After the deaths, Greenvale owner Michael McElhatton and a 40-year-old man, believed to be a member of the hotel’s door staff, were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. Both were later released on bail.

Read More: Greenvale to close on first anniversary of deaths as a mark of respect

In June last year Mr McElhatton was again questioned over three days before being freed pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Files are also being prepared for the PPS on seven other men interviewed by police.

Connor Currie (16), Lauren Bullock (17) and Morgan Barnard (17) died during a crush outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on St Patrickâ??s night..

The delay in forwarding the files could result in a final decision on whether there should be prosecutions taking several more months.

Mr Bradley voiced his frustration about the delays last night.

"This is both totally devastating and re-traumatising for my family," he said.

"Almost a year on and there has been virtually no progress.

"How can anybody have faith in the justice system when that same system failed to take steps to prevent the tragedy in the first instance and now continues to fail by taking little or no steps to ensure accountability for the events of that night."

In a letter to Ms Long, Solicitor Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, who represents the grieving parents said "there have been a number of revelations which have given our client grave concern as to the effectiveness of the justice system."

He also raised the actions of police on the night of the tragedy with the minister and concerns about delays in progressing the case.

"In addition, there is no estimated time frame as to the conclusion of the Police Ombudsman investigation, a decision on whether or not to prosecute Mr McElhatton or the conveying of an inquest," he wrote.

He added that "the delay in progressing an effective investigation into this matter has caused our client considerable concern."

"In addition, given the number of public bodies whom our client believes bear some responsibility into the events of that night, there appears to be no current or ongoing effective mechanisms which can access the totality of the acts of those potential responsible," he wrote.

The Police Ombudsman is investigating seven officers in relation to the case.

Five are being investigated for the criminal offence of misconduct in public office while two other officers are being investigated in relation to potential disciplinary matters.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman last night said “the investigation is ongoing”.

Former chief constable George Hamilton referred the PSNI to the ombudsman after it emerged that four officers withdrew from the scene.

It later emerged that they did not intervene for 16 minutes.

Asked why the Greenvale files had not been forwarded, a spokesman for the PSNI said: "The investigation into the tragic deaths of three teenagers at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Saint Patrick’s Day 2019 continues and all evidence will be reported to the PPS in due course. As this is a live investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

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