Wednesday 26 June 2019

Police 'waited for 16 minutes before intervening' in fatal hotel crush

The teenagers who died at the Greenvale Hotel were, (left-right) Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock and Connor Currie
The teenagers who died at the Greenvale Hotel were, (left-right) Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock and Connor Currie

Dean Grey

Police responding to the Greenvale Hotel tragedy waited 16 minutes before intervening, it has been claimed.

The 'Irish News' has reported on the timeline of events which resulted in the deaths of Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock (both 17) and Connor Currie (16) in the queue to get into a St Patrick's night disco in March. Police have said around 600 people were queueing at the venue in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton referred the police response to the Police Ombudsman after it was revealed the first officers on the scene withdrew to await further support and only re-engaged when an ambulance crew arrived.

Mr Hamilton described those officers' actions as "brave".

He later apologised for using the term, saying he regretted the hurt caused to the families of those killed.

The 'Irish News' revealed a timeline of events on the night - which had been relayed to the families of the teenagers in a series of meetings - which was compiled from CCTV of the incident. It reveals four police officers responded in two cars and they waited 16 minutes before intervening.

At first they sat in their vehicles in the car park before leaving and returning 11 minutes later to the scene.

It is also claimed police held discussions on the matter with hotel owner Michael McElhatton before they intervened.

The family of Morgan Barnard said the police have questions to answer, asking if lives could have been saved.

Compounded

Meanwhile, family solicitor Darragh Mackin said while it was every family's worst nightmare, it was "compounded by the questions raised.

"It is now imperative that a full and effective investigation is conducted into the events so the family can get to the truth," he said.

In a statement to the 'Belfast Telegraph', the PSNI said: "The investigation into the actions of police at the Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown, on March 17, 2019, is being undertaken by the Office of the Police Ombudsman and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further on the Greenvale incident at this time."

Irish Independent

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