Northern Ireland

Jonathan Magee death: Eight PSNI officers disciplined

Jonathan Magee
Image caption Jonathan Magee was 29 when he was killed by a train near Lisburn

Eight police officers have been disciplined over a failed search for a missing man who was later struck and killed by a train.

Jonathan Magee, 29, was killed when he walked in front of a train at Knockmore Bridge near Lisburn on Saturday, 29 January 2011.

Jonathan's sister, Julie Magee, said her brother and her family had been let down.

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Media captionJonathan's sister, Julie, said her brother would still be alive if the police had learned from their first mistakes

Police "apologised unreservedly" to the family for "failings" in the case.

As a result of the Police Ombudsman's investigation, two inspectors, three sergeants and three constables were disciplined.

Mr Magee had a history of mental illness and, in the week prior to his death, police had searched for him after his family had said they were concerned for his safety.

On the morning before his death, Mr Magee's sister phoned the police to say she was concerned for his safety as he was missing, suffered from depression and had tablets in his possession.

The report detailed a series of missed opportunities and miscommunication between officers in the week prior to and up to his death.

Significant failure

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said the police response to Mr Magee's disappearance was inadequate and the police response had largely ignored the procedures in place for such issues.

"Although they were told Jonathan was at 'high risk and suicidal,' it took police almost seven hours to formally make this assessment themselves and then having done so, they largely ignored it," Dr Maguire said.

Image caption Dr Michael Maguire made a number of criticisms of the police search

"Minimal inquiries were conducted into Jonathan's whereabouts in the last few hours of his life. A number of opportunities to find him and return him to the hospital were missed."

Dr Maguire also criticised the length of time it took the police to make the assessment that he was high risk as an unacceptable, significant failure.

Jonathan's sister, Julie Magee, said the police "didn't do their jobs".

"They had opportunities to go and get him and they didn't do it," she said.

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Media captionJulie Magee says she hopes police will learn from the tragedy

Police apology

"They even made a phone call to him and it devastates me because they were the last ones that got to speak to him - I never got that opportunity."

Responding to the report, PSNI Supt Mark McEwan said: "On behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland I apologise unreservedly to the family of Jonathan Magee for the police failings in this case and how it was investigated.

"This report is significant and challenging for the PSNI and one which we take very seriously.

"In order to reassure the public I want to make it clear that we have already implemented a number of the recommendations made by the ombudsman."