Police officers to stand trial over ‘items removed from Cookstown PSNI station’

A judge has ruled that three police officers will stand trial for perverting the course of justice.

Saturday, 13th September 2014, 9:16 am

At Dungannon Magistrates Court, District Judge John Meehan said he was satisfied there was enough evidence to establish a Prima Facie case against Sergeants Geoffrey Ellis and Harry McMahon, and Constable David Power.

Although told they had the right to, all three defendants declined to either give evidence themselves or call witnesses on their behalves.

The charges of perverting the course of public justice arise amid allegations surrounding the unauthorised removal of items from a locker which belonged to Ellis in Cookstown police station.

It is alleged that after discovering it would be searched by the PSNI’s Professional Standards Department, asked Power, whose address was given as Sprucefield PSNI station, and then McMahon, c/o Dungannon Station, to remove its contents.

At an earlier court hearing when defence lawyers argued the case should be dismissed, it was alleged that Sergeant McMahon told colleagues he’d been warned by Sergeant Ellis that he could find drugs in the locker.

In an exchange with a defence solicitor for Sergeant McMahon at the same hearing, Judge Meehan said: “Your client is saying he was told he would find drugs in that locker and the purpose of the exercise was to ‘disappear’ those drugs from the PSNI; to take them out of the proper legal channels altogether.”

Defence lawyers had submitted that as the PSD operation was an internal investigation which the officers were unaware of, they could not be charged with perverting the course of justice.

Judge Meehan rejected this argument and all three men were released on bail to be arraigned at Omagh Crown Court on October 9.