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PSNI officers allegedly photographed and manipulated body of man who died by suicide

Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman described it as a “harrowing case”.

TWO NORTHERN IRELAND police officers are being investigated over allegations that they photographed and manipulated the body of a man who died by suicide.

The PSNI officers allegedly shared photographs and videos of the man’s body online, including images in which his genitals were exposed.

The family of the victim spoke anonymously to the BBC about the alleged incident, which took place after the two officers attended the scene when the man’s body was discovered in 2017.

The man’s father said he was “physically sick to this day” over the allegations.

“Those police officers were in the house while I was there – asked me to leave the room – and I done everything they asked me to at the time.

“And all that keeps coming back to me is why did I leave the room, because that must have been when they done it, when they took the photographs,” he said.

The family were informed of the allegations by Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman 18 months after the man died.

“They informed me that two police officers had been questioned regarding my son and photographs that might have been taken of my son,” the father told BBC’s Spotlight team.

He said the family was told “it was a very serious affair and we weren’t to discuss it”.

The victim’s sister said they were told the two officers allegedly moved the man’s body around the room in certain poses for photographs and a video.

The sister added that she believes the officers photoshopped speech bubbles containing the word “taig”, a derogatory term for Catholics, and other phrases onto the photos.

‘Harrowing’

Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman, Marie Anderson, described the incident as “a harrowing case”.

“No family should have had to endure the pain and suffering that has been caused by these images. It is therefore vitally important that every aspect of the case is fully and thoroughly investigated,” she said.

“Our enquiries into this incident are part of a much broader and more complex case, encompassing investigations into 11 separate but related incidents spanning several years.”

Anderson said that many of the matters became apparent between 2017 and 2020, through new complaints or as a result of the Ombudsman’s investigation. The most recent complaint was received in 2020.

An extraordinary list of potential offences are under investigation.

These are harassment, the suspected supply of illegal drugs, the suspected theft, possession and supply of prescription drugs, computer misuse, data protection breaches and misconduct in a public office.

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Multiple suspects have been identified including police officers and civilians in Northern Ireland and England.

“My investigators have made a series of arrests, conducted a number of searches, and undertaken more than 30 hours of interviews. They also seized over 60 electronic devices, all of which have been subject to forensic examination,” Anderson said.

“Our enquiries are now complete and we have submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service. We are now awaiting a direction from the PPS as to whether any prosecutions should result.

“After the criminal aspects have been concluded, I will consider recommendations to the Chief Constable in terms of disciplinary action.

“All of those impacted by these incidents can be assured that we have given this case the priority and meticulous attention that it deserves, and we will continue to do so,” Anderson concluded.

The PSNI has been contacted for comment.

Comments are closed as investigations are ongoing.

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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