Northern Ireland

Christopher Meli: Police apologise to family for communication 'oversight'

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Media captionChristopher Meli's parents say they want to be kept informed of any developments in the case

The parents of a 20-year-old father-of-one who was beaten to death last year have hit out at police for not keeping them informed about the case.

Three teenagers have been charged with murdering Christopher Meli in Twinbrook in west Belfast.

His parents say they found out on social media that one of the accused had bail restrictions varied so that he could go on holiday.

Police have apologised for "an oversight" in communication.

"I just want to know when the court case is going to be on so we can find out what is going on, how it is progressing and what direction it is going," Christopher Meli senior said.

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer leading the investigation, Det Ch Insp Richard Campbell, said a dedicated family liaison officer had been appointed "to keep the Meli family fully informed about developments in the investigation since last December".

Image copyright family
Image caption Christopher Meli was 20 and a father of one

"Unfortunately, earlier this week there was an oversight which led to a delay in information being provided to the family about a variation in bail conditions for one of the defendants charged with Christopher's murder," he added.

'Apology'

"Bail is a matter for the court, not police, but the delay in providing the family with an update is unacceptable and should not have happened.

"I appreciate how important it is for families to be kept informed and police apologise for this oversight."

Mr Campbell said he would be contacting the family to arrange a meeting to discuss their concerns and offer a "personal apology".

Geraldine Hanna from Victims Support NI spoke to BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme: "In November last year the Victims' Charter came into effect in Northern Ireland which is based on a statutory footing.

Image caption Mr Meli was beaten to death in the Twinbrook estate

"Under that legislation, victims are required to be kept updated about the progress of cases and also variations to bail conditions.

"Very often the pre-trial hearings don't require victims or family members to be in attendance.

"However, for families who have lost their loved ones in such tragic circumstances, a lot of them find it beneficial to be there so that they can hear the information as it is being relayed in court."

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