Northern Ireland news

Policing Board to hold special meeting over suicide victim's pictures

Chief constable Simon Byrne
Staff reporter

The Policing Board is to hold a special meeting later this year to examine claims officers took and shared images of a suicide victim's body.

Photographs allegedly taken of the man by PSNI officers, which were later shared, may have contained graphic and sectarian content, it has emerged.

Chief constable Simon Byrne has apologised for the offensive and "stomach-churning sectarianism" involved in the case.

He called the claims "harrowing and shocking" on Thursday, telling a meeting of the Policing Board that the alleged actions "besmirched" the reputation of the PSNI.

The Police Federation said the incident was distressing adding that there were wider implications for the PSNI.

Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill last night said the allegations are "atrocious".

Two officers have been under investigation for more than three years over the allegations which date back to 2017.

One of them had been suspended on full pay.

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson has 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.

The victim's sister said earlier this week 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.

Speaking on RTE Radio on Friday, Ms O'Neill agreed with Mr Byrne's comments that the allegations were "absolutely harrowing".

"My thoughts are very much with the family who have been impacted," she said.

"I couldn't even imagine what they're going through, I couldn't even imagine how they feel."

Ms O'Neill said that "a full investigation" needs to be carried out and "the fullest of action needs to be taken" against those responsible.

"People who are supposed to be upholding the law, people who are supposed to be in a position of authority and responsibility, this type of action is not befitting of anybody.

"So it's absolutely atrocious what has happened to this family and I'm very conscious of their feelings right now."

Northern Ireland news