Northern Ireland news

Shared pictures of suicide victim believed to have been taken by PSNI officers contained graphic and sectarian content

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson
Staff reporter

PHOTOGRAPHS allegedly taken of a suicide victim by PSNI officers, which were later shared, may have contained graphic and sectarian content, it has emerged.

Fresh details of the case reveal that the victim's genitals were exposed in pictures taken when two officers attended a suicide scene.

Details of the shocking case were first revealed by The Irish News in March.

The allegations were yesterday described by PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne as "harrowing and shocking". He told a meeting of the Policing Board that the alleged actions "besmirched" the reputation of the PSNI.

It comes after it emerged that two officers have been under investigation for more than three years over the allegations, which date back to 2017, with one of them suspended on full pay.

The case is part of a wider probe involving 11 separate, but related incidents, which are part of an investigation by Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson into a range of possible offences including misconduct and harassment.

The father of the victim, who died in 2017, said he was told about the police ombudsman investigation 18 months later.

"They informed me that two police officers had been questioned regarding my son and photographs that might have been taken of my son," he said.

He also claimed his family were told "it was a very serious affair and we weren't to discuss it".

The man's father said he was "physically sick to this day" over the allegations.

"Those police officers were in the house while I was there - asked me to leave the room - and I did everything they asked me to at the time," he said.

"And all that keeps coming back to me is why did I leave the room, because that must have been when they did it, when they took the photographs," he told the BBC.

The victim's sister said her brother's genitalia had been exposed in one of the photographs.

She alleged the two officers moved the victim's body around the room for pictures and a video, while they added "an exclamation bubble coming out" of her brother's "mouth making fun of the way that he was".

The woman also said she believed the word "taig" was used in the speech bubble.

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said: "Many of these matters became apparent between 2017 and 2020, either through new complaints or as a result of enquiries by my investigators.

"The most recent relevant complaint was received in 2020."

She said offences under investigation include computer misuse, data protection breaches, misconduct in a public office, harassment, the suspected supply of illegal drugs, and the suspected theft, possession and supply of prescription drugs.

Mr Byrne yesterday also told the Policing Board that "the prospect that a public servant in whom we trust could even think about defiling somebody after they have died is both harrowing and shocking and besmirches the reputation of this service".

"I would condemn that. There is no way myself or the senior team could ever say this is something that reflects the values and standards of people that work to protect them."

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