PSNI Man Removed From Duty Over Cell Death

The death of a Northern man in police custody last year in Londonderry continues to be controversial with news that a police officer has been suspended over the death by suicide of republican John Brady last October.

The 40-year-old Strabane man was found dead by his solicitor in a consultation room at Strand Road PSNI station, after taking his own life.

He had been arrested over an alleged assault while on weekend parole from Maghaberry prison.

The decision to suspend the officer from duty was taken following an investigation and subsequent report by the Police Ombudsman, which also recommended disciplinary action for a number of other officers.

The victim was given a paramilitary-style funeral, complete with a volley of shots being fired over his coffin by men wearing camouflage and balaclavas and his family also claimed he would not have taken his own life.

The Ombudsman, Al Hutchinson did not however find any evidence that Mr Brady had been harassed or improperly treated by police during his detention, his investigation did highlight failings by the PSNI.

He said that officers had repeatedly breached guidelines designed to minimise risk to prisoners, police and others in the custody suite.

"Mr Brady was left alone and unsupervised in the consultation room on a total of nine occasions, for periods of up to 33 minutes at a time," he said.

Responding to the publication of the Report by the Police Ombudsman, Acting Chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board Brian Rea said: "The Ombudsman's Report records a series of police failings in respect of this case and it is deeply regrettable that these had the tragic outcome of providing John Brady with an opportunity to take his own life whilst in police custody. Our sympathies are extended to the Brady family.

"We note that the Police have accepted the Ombudsman's recommendations but we must ensure that lessons are learned and the Board has asked the Chief Constable for a full report on police actions to address the Ombudsman's findings and recommendations; particularly in respect of Custody Suite management, police procedures and actions taken against those officers cited for disciplinary proceedings."

However, questions remain according to Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP and MLA, Pat Doherty.

He said: "I would once again like to reiterate my sympathy with the Brady family and acknowledge that this is an extremely difficult time for them in the aftermath of this Report on the circumstances of John's death by the Police Ombudsman's Office.

"The death in PSNI custody raised serious issues of concern at the time and the release of the Ombudsman's Report findings into his death has identified damning procedural failings at the Strand Road station.

"The most glaring unanswered question remaining is why John Brady was informed that he was going to be charged before being brought for subsequent interview and then left alone in the consultation room on a total of nine occasions, for periods of up to 30 minutes at a time?

"In short, the question remains as to why the need for subsequent interviews if the decision had already been taken to charge John?

"What was the purpose of this further interview? The Ombudsman's Report did not address the legality or otherwise of this course of action by the PSNI," he said, noting that immediate disciplinary action is now being taken against all those PSNI officers found to be in dereliction of their duty and that the Professional Standard's Department are going to investigate the management and supervision of Strand Road PSNI Station.

"However, having discussed the Ombudsman Report findings with party colleague and NI Policing Board member Martina Anderson we are now seeking an urgent meeting with the PSNI Chief Constable to not only demand he take swift action in relation to all of the Report findings but also to demand a full explanation about the purpose of the subsequent interviews not addressed in the Ombudsman’s Report."


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