A NUMBER of Omagh police officers could face criminal proceedings after the findings of an independent investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office was presented to the Public Prosecution Service.
The investigation was sparked by a controversial incident in the John Street area of Omagh on December 10 2012.
Two Omagh men were charged following the early morning incident, which sparked debate over police tactics after it was captured on video and spread online using social media.
Leo McCullagh (24) of Lambrook Drive and Stephen Murphy (19) of Lammy Drive in Omagh, were charged with a number of offences including assaulting police and disorderly behaviour after police became involved with a group of high-spirited men outside a John Street takeaway.
In March, the Ulster Herald revealed how all charges were dismissed by a local judge after the defence team utilised CCTV footage to largely undermine the claims of a number of police officers made during a Magistrates’ Court hearing on February 26. Both men have now initiating civil proceedings against the PSNI.
Constable Sheldon Irvine-Monteith was accused during the February court contest of being “the aggressor” by the defence, after the footage, which captured the entire fracas, appeared to show him grab and push Mr McCullagh in three motions up against a car.
The 24-year-old is shown throwing his hand out at the officer in a sharp pushing action, to which Constable Irvine-Monteith responded with a punch to the head, sending the Omagh man sprawling into the crowd.
The police constable claimed he was acting to clear the road to allow traffic to safely pass.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott asked the Police Ombudsman’s Office to conduct an independent investigation into the actions of his officers following the dismissal of the case.
Last week the monitoring body told the Tyrone Herald that it had now forwarded its findings onto the PPS. A spokesperson said that while the majority of its investigations result in recommendations to the disciplinary branch of the PSNI, “more serious” and potentially criminal incidents are sent to the PPS.
“We have now completed those enquiries and, in line with normal procedure, have submitted a file to the PPS for their consideration.”
It’s unclear at this point how many police officers face potential prosecution.