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Police call handler disciplined over Lorimer 999 call failure

A police forensics officer pays close attention to a phone box at Russell Drive on Sunday afternoon as a murder investigation got underway. INLM0612-807ca

A police forensics officer pays close attention to a phone box at Russell Drive on Sunday afternoon as a murder investigation got underway. INLM0612-807ca

A police call handler’s failure to pass on all information from a 999 call did not contribute to death of Andrew Lorimer, the Police Ombudsman has found.

Mr Lorimer’s body was found in his flat at Portlec Place in the town on February 5, 2012, two days after a 999 call was made to report an assault in the street.

The Chief Constable subsequently asked the Police Ombudsman to investigate the police handling of the incident, with a police call handler disciplined.

Enquiries established that during the 999 call, made at 10.49pm on February 3, 2012, a police officer was told: “Mourneview Estate, Portlec Place, a fella been beaten to f**k. Get there.” The caller – later established to have been one of three men involved in killing Mr Lorimer - then hung up.

When requesting patrols to check the area, the officer failed to advise them that the caller had referred to Portlec Place. Instead he asked them to check the area around the phone box used for the call, at nearby Russell Drive.

Two police patrols checked streets around Russell Drive, including Portlec Place, but saw nothing suspicious.

The pathologist concluded that Mr Lorimer was likely to have survived for some time after the assault, but it was difficult to be precise about how long for.

The officer who dealt with the 999 call (Officer 1), as well as officers in the patrols which responded, were all interviewed.

Officer 1 said he could not recall Mourneview Estate and Portlec Place having been mentioned but acknowledged that the information should have been recorded and provided to patrols.

However, the investigation found that two police patrols had nevertheless checked Portlec Place in response to Officer 1’s initial instruction to check the area around the Russell Drive phone box.

Having reviewed the evidence, Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire concluded there was no evidence Officer 1’s failure to mention Portlec Place had contributed to Mr Lorimer’s death. Three police patrols had checked the street and found nothing suspicious.

However, Dr Maguire found that Officer 1 should have taken “greater care to record all relevant information” provided during the 999 call.

 

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