Officers disciplined over death probe

Published Monday, 14 May 2012
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Seven police officers have been disciplined over their handling of an investigation into the death of a pensioner in Lisburn.

Officers disciplined over death probe
Mr Heasley’s brother David said his confidence in the PSNI has been “shattered”. (© Pacemaker)

Jim Heasley, who was 70 years old and from Craig Gardens, died in October 2010 after he was assaulted on his way home after a night out.

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman found officers initially treated his death as a drunken fall and the body uncovered a number of other failings.

The pensioner was taken to hospital for treatment on head injuries but died 12 days later.

"He had no chance the beating he got," his brother David told UTV.

"Apart from the head injuries he had a broken shoulder and bad bruising down both sides of his body, his face was badly cut, his head, his cheeks his chin and the police said there was no assault."

The Ombudsman said at the beginning of the investigation, Mr Heasley's injuries were not photographed and his clothing was not taken away for analysis.

Our investigation concluded that there appeared to have been an assumption by police that Jim had sustained his injuries as a result of a fall, rather than an attack.

Police Ombudsman

It also said there should have been "a more robust examination of the incident scene on the night Jim was attacked" and the Ombudsman revealed that officers did not properly review CCTV evidence until a week after the assault.

Seven police officers were disciplined following the investigation, including five officers at supervisory level.

In a statement, the PSNI recognised failings in the initial police handling of the case.

It said: "We have apologised to the family for that however we are glad that thanks to the subsequent thorough and focused police investigation this case was brought to court and an individual has now received a custodial sentence in connection with Mr Heasley's death."

In March, Jackie Allen, from Ravarnet Gardens, Lisburn, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Allen claimed "to have no memory of the material events of the night in question" when he attacked the pensioner. He was originally charged with murder.

Mr Heasley's brother, David said the incident has irreparably damaged any confidence he had in the PSNI.

"It has completely shattered any confidence I had in them," he continued.

"No matter what happens now it won't be repaired. It's too late to do anything for Jim."

© UTV News
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