Published Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Seamus Fox was attacked yards from Woodbourne Police Station. (© UTV)
Mr Fox, 58, was attacked on waste ground 10 metres from west Belfast's Woodbourne Police Station in April 2010, and he died from his injuries at the scene.
The brutal beating, which lasted 26 seconds, was captured on two of the station's security cameras, but none of those inside the station knew it was happening.
Mr Fox's family told Police Ombudsman investigators they were concerned that officers had seen the attack and did not respond.
It is unbelievable that his murder unfolded immediately outside a police station where it was apparently unnoticed.
But the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said no one "had the sole task" of monitoring the CCTV screens, which were two of more than a dozen in the station.
"We have established that given the position of the dozen plus monitors in the security sangar and the poor picture quality, it would not have been clear what was happening outside.
"We have also established that there was no one on duty in the sangar which overlooked the scene of the attack. It was normal practice in 2010 for that sangar not to be staffed," he said.
Last October, 19-year-old Gerard Connors - from Glenveagh Drive in Belfast - was jailed after pleading guilty to murdering the grandfather. Mr Fox's family said they believe if police had attended a fire reported a short time before the father of six's death, the fatal attack might not have happened.
"After hearing the Police Ombudsman's report and findings, our family have considered all of the information given and we now feel that negligence on the part of the Woodbourne PSNI station and officers contributed to the events that led to our father's death," a Fox family statement reads.
"It is our family's belief that had the police responded to a report of arson at woodland in the Glen River less than one hour before my father's murder, Gerard Connors, the man responsible for our father's murder would have been arrested and therefore not able to commit the murder of our father.
"It has been made clear to us that not only had they not responded to this report but that they failed to comply with basic police procedure and log it as a crime being committed."
However, Dr Maguire's report found that if police had gone to the fire, this may have reduced the opportunity for Connors to attack Mr Fox, but the chance would not have been eliminated.
The responsibility for Mr Fox's death rests with Gerard Connors, who beat him in a vicious attack. There is no evidence any police officer on duty that morning should share this responsibility.
"Had police attended the scene and arrested Gerard Connors or engaged with him for sufficient time to allow Mr Fox to reach home safely, events may have unfolded differently.
"Alternatively, however, on the approach of the police, Connors may have fled the scene, in which case he may still have encountered Mr Fox. These and other possibilities remain imponderable," added Dr Maguire.
"The police decision not to attend the fire but to use CCTV to monitor it in case matters deteriorated was an understandable course of action. They could not have foreseen that one of those people at the fire would viciously attack someone a short time later."
The Fox family have said failings on behalf of the PSNI at Woodbourne station "had a massive impact resulting in our father's death".
"Our family would like to now take this time to contemplate on the findings of the police ombudsman's report and to take professional advice on the next steps forward," they added.
© UTV News