THE PSNI has said that the actions of the first police officers to arrive at the scene of the crush at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown has now been referred to the Police Ombudsman for an independent investigation.
The decision has been announced by deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin.
The crush at the hotel on St Patrick’s night, Sunday, March 17, led to the deaths of 17-year-olds Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard and Connor Currie, aged 16.
The 52-year-old hotel owner Michael McElhatton and a 40-year-old door steward were later arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
Both have released on police bail to return at a later date for for further questioning.
In a statement, DCC Martin said: “The ongoing investigation into the tragic events at the Greenvale Hotel is active and wide ranging.
“As part of that investigation, it is right and proper that the actions of all those involved are considered.
“Part of the investigation has included a review of the initial police response.
“The first police officers arrived at the hotel grounds shortly after receiving the 999 report.
“Following their initial assessment they made attempts to establish more detail and information about what was happening and subsequently withdrew to await further police support.
“When the first ambulance arrived police moved forward in support of them.
“The timing and nature of police actions during this period require further investigation to fully establish the facts.
“The Chief Constable has therefore decided that the initial police response should be subject to independent scrutiny and it is in the public interest to refer the circumstances and the nature of the actions of the first officers arriving at the scene to the Police Ombudsman.
“The families have been informed of the referral.
“The confidence of the families and the confidence of the communities we serve are at the forefront of our minds in our decision to refer this matter to the Police Ombudsman.
“We will work with the Ombudsman to support whatever action he undertakes and would ask that people do not speculate or prejudge the outcome of the Ombudsman’s investigation.”