Police officers "photographed and manipulated the body of a suicide victim"

For more than three decades, two officers from Northern Ireland have been under investigation for allegedly manipulating a suicide victim's body.

Police officers "photographed and manipulated the body of a suicide victim"

For more than three decades, two officers from Northern Ireland have been under investigation for allegedly manipulating a suicide victim's body. They also shared photos and a clip online.

The Police Ombudsman is investigating and has suspended one of the officers.

This is part of an ongoing investigation that includes 11 related incidents over several years.

Marie Anderson, NI's Police Ombudsman, stated that several arrests were made.

Warning! Graphic content

"There are many suspects, including civilians and police officers, in Northern Ireland, as well as in England," Anderson said.

An investigation is underway to investigate a variety of possible offenses, including harassment, misconduct, and suspected supply of drug.

Ms Anderson stated that the allegations surrounding the two officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland were disturbing.

BBC NI Spotlight was informed by the victim's sister that her brother's genitalia were exposed in one of the photos.

Anderson stated that no family should have to suffer the pain and suffering caused by these images.

Belfast's family of the victim of suicide has anonymously spoken to BBC NI's Spotlight team, describing the alleged actions by the two officers. They were there after the body of their loved one was found in 2017.

They claimed that the allegations have made their trauma worse, while the family lawyer compared it to the case of two Met Police constables who took and shared photographs of Nicole Smallman's and Bibaa Anne Henry.

According to the man's father, he was "physically sick" from the allegation.

"Those officers were in my house at the same time as me - they asked me to leave. I did everything they asked.

"And all that keeps coming to me is why I left the room. Because that must have been when the photos were taken, that must have been when they did it."

According to the PSNI, it expects "the highest standards in professionalism and integrity" from its officers as well as its staff.

Police Ombudsman investigators first made the allegations to the father 18 months after the death of his son.

He told BBC Spotlight that he was informed by two police officers that he had been interrogated about my son, and that photographs of him might have been taken.

He stated that the family was informed "it was very serious and we were not to discuss it".

Over a series of meetings, the family received the full details of the incident.

Spotlight was told by the victim's sister that the officers moved the victim's body in specific positions for photos and a video.

Family members also reported that they added "an exclamation bubble out of my brother’s mouth, making fun of his behavior".

She also shared that during one meeting, an ombudsman as well as a Scotland Yard officer informed her that her brother’s genitals were exposed in one photograph.

Another officer allegedly photoshopped a speech bubble onto a photograph of the body, and then shared it on social networks.

She said that she also believed that the term "taig", which is a derogatory term used for Catholics was part of the language used in this speech bubble.

She said that her sister couldn't understand why anyone would mock a suicide victim.

The suicide occurred five years ago. However, the police officers have not been charged. A file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Padraig O Muirigh, the family's lawyer, said that five years of inaction was unacceptable.

He cited the case of Deniz Jaffer, a Metropolitan Police officer, and Jamie Lewis, who were both jailed after photographing the bodies of Nicole Smallman & Bibaa Henry and then shared the images via WhatsApp.

"I understand that some investigations can be more complicated than others, but we're still five years later," stated Mr O Muirigh.

"We have had a similar case across water, in similar circumstances, and that case is moving on."

He said: "There will be a huge public interest in the case and I think that the family and wider public have a right to learn why someone was suspended so long on their full pay."

The Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman stated that it was vital that all aspects of the case are thoroughly investigated.

Ms Anderson stated that the incident was part a larger and more complicated case, which involved investigations into 11 related incidents over a period of several years.

"Many of these issues became apparent between 2017-2020, either through new complains or due to enquiries by my investigators. In 2020, the most recent complaint relevant was received.

She also added:

Anderson stated that she would make recommendations to the chief constable regarding disciplinary action after the criminal aspects of the case have been resolved.

"All those affected by these incidents can rest assured that we have given the case the highest priority and paid it the most thorough attention and that we will continue to do so."

BBC Spotlight reached out to the solicitor representing the officer who was suspended on full-pay for comment.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constabulary Mark Hamilton confirmed that an officer was suspended during the ongoing investigation.

He stated that "We expect the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and honesty from all of our officers and staff in line with the standards contained within the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s code of ethics."

"Breach of the law or the code will be investigated thoroughly and dealt with according to the procedures set out in our conduct regulations.

"I encourage anyone who suspects that a member our service is abusing their position in any way to report it either to us or the ombudsman.

"You can rest assured that this matter will be thoroughly investigated."

According to the sister of the victim, she has lost all faith in the PSNI due to the way the case was handled.

"I could not even pick up the phone to dial 999 if it was an emergency. They are not trustworthy and I don't want them around me or my family.

This latest revelations regarding alleged police misconduct are the result of a BBC Spotlight Investigation, WhatsApp, Police and Whistleblowers. The broadcast aired allegations made in part by two whistleblowers from PSNI.

They claimed that some officers from one of the largest police areas in Northern Ireland had committed serious misconduct and neglected to their duty.

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