A man arrested over the deaths of three teenagers outside a hotel disco has failed in a High Court bid to secure an immediate release from custody.
The 40-year-old is being detained on suspicion of manslaughter by police investigating the St Patrick’s Day tragedy in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died after a crush developed in the queue at the Greenvale Hotel.
The man, granted anonymity and referred to as XX, was arrested on Tuesday.
Under the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) legislation he can only be held for a limited time before detectives must seek extensions.
The court heard that since being detained XX has been taken to hospital twice for psychiatric assessments - trips accounting for a combined period in excess of 17 hours.
It meant that by the time the legal challenge started he had only been subjected to a maximum of 60 minutes of interviews.
Lawyers for XX claimed a psychiatric assessment does not count as medical treatment which enables to clock to be stopped on the detention period.
Seeking an application for a writ of habeas corpus, they contended that the time he can be lawfully held ran out earlier on Thursday.
But Mr Justice McCloskey, sitting with Mr Justice Huddleston, said there was “a fundamental frailty” in the argument.
“We harbour no doubt that the words medical treatment must include, in the context of this challenge, psychiatric assessment or evaluation or examination,” he held.
Dismissing the application, the judge confirmed: “We are in no doubt that there’s no merit in the applicant’s challenge.”
With the three teenagers’ funerals due to be held on Friday, Mr Justice McCloskey also offered condolences to the bereaved.
He said: “This was a quite appalling tragedy, and the court’s sincere sympathies are extended to all of the circle of family members, friends and others who are suffering the aftermath of this truly dreadful loss of life.”