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07th Jul 2022

Police officers ‘photographed and manipulated body of suicide victim’

April Curtin

Credit: BBC NI Spotlight

WARNING: contains graphic and distressing content

Two police officers in Northern Ireland allegedly moved a suicide victim’s body around a room and took photos and a video, one of which is thought to have exposed his genitalia.

The pair have been under investigation for over three years and allegations against them have been described by NI’s Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson as “harrowing”.

The officers were at the scene where the suicide victim’s body was discovered in 2017. Speaking to BBC NI Spotlight, the victim’s sister said her brother’s genitalia had been exposed in one of the photographs the officers are alleged to have shared.

Credit: BBC NI Spotlight
Credit: BBC NI Spotlight

The victim’s father claimed the police officers asked him to leave the room where his son’s body was found.

“I done everything they asked me to at the time,” the father said.

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

He said the allegations make him “physically sick to this day.”

One of the officers has been suspended but is still getting full pay while they are investigated, the BBC reports.

It is part of a wider investigation involving 11 separate but related incidents over a number of years in which several arrests have been made. Possible offences include misconduct, harassment and the suspected drug supply.

“There are multiple suspects, including police officers and civilians, in Northern Ireland as well as in England,” Ombudsman Anderson said.

The family of the suicide victim, from Belfast, said the allegations had made their trauma worse. Pádraig Ó Muirigh, the family’s lawyer, compared the case to that in which two Met Police officers were jailed for two years after taking and sharing photographs of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

The victim’s father said he was first told about the allegations 18 months after his son had died.

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

The victim’s sister said the two officers allegedly moved the victim’s body around the room in certain poses for pictures and for a video.

The family was told that the officers added “an exclamation bubble” coming out of the victim’s mouth on the pictures, “making fun of the way that he was”.

The word “taig”, a derogatory term for Catholics, was among the language reportedly used in the speech bubble, the sister believes.

It has been five years since the suicide and no charges have been brought against the two police officers, though the Ombudsman’s investigation is now complete and a file has been sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The victim’s sister said she had lost all trust in the Northern Ireland’s police force because of the way the case has been handled.

The PSNI (Police Service Northern Ireland) said it expected “the highest standards of professionalism and integrity” from its officers and staff.

Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman said it was “vitally important that every aspect of this case is fully and thoroughly investigated”.

Anderson said: “No family should have had to endure the pain and suffering that has been caused by these images.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health head to for practical tips and advice. You can also talk to Samaritans 24/7 by calling 116 123 for free or visiting the Samaritans website. Alternatively, you can find more information and advice on the NHS website.

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