It comes after an inquest found that Shaun Hegarty should not have been a free man when Caron Smyth (40) and Finbar McGrillen (42) were brutally attacked in December 2013.
The coroner’s task was to determine if the actions of the police contributed to the deaths.
The inquest took place after lawyers for Mr McGrillen’s family challenged an initial decision not to hold an inquest.
His daughter Nicole has expressed relief following the case.
“Our family thank the coroner for his verdict,” she said.
“It is clear that if the police had carried out their job properly on the 9th of December 2013 then my daddy might still be alive today.. He did not deserve to have his life taken and future stolen in his own home while helping a friend.
“His memory and legacy will be served by the lessons that can now be learned by the police from the litany of suspect decisions, incompetence, and their failure to follow policy.”
The mother-of-one said the entire family is pleased that changes have been implemented.
“The investigation has led to new policy recommendations being implemented by PSNI and hope this prevents other families suffering the avoidable loss we have experienced , but it will not bring my Daddy back.”
Nicole’s father and his friend were beaten to death at Ravenhill Court by Hegarty who was Ms Smyth’s former partner.
The offender, formerly of Grainne House, New Lodge, Belfast, was jailed for a minimum of 18 years in 2015.
On Monday coroner Joe McCrisken ascertained that the actions of police contributed in more than a minimal way to the deaths of both Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen.
“Police actions, or rather lack of police actions, provided Sean Hegarty with the opportunity to commit the murders while he might otherwise have been in custody,” he said.
“I am satisfied also that in 2013 there were significant systemic issues in police actions and processes which contributed to a situation in which Sean Hegarty was allowed to walk the streets when he should have been brought before court so that his freedom could be reviewed.”
During the hearing which took place between September 5-16, 2022 lawyers for the McGrillen family outlined a litany of police failings including bail decisions and incompetence.
Solicitor Nichola Harte said that as a result, Hegarty was released from Bangor PSNI Station on December 9, 2013.
“Our clients welcome the inquest findings the opportunity the inquest provided to see , question, and listen to the accounts of the police officers involved,” she said.
“The coroner’s ruling is clear and unambiguous.
“He has found that there was a trail of police incompetence which created the opportunity and contributed towards the circumstances which resulted in Sean Hegarty murdering their father.
“They agree with the coroner that explanations for those failings provided by police to the inquest were inadequate and unacceptable.
“It is a great human tragedy that this double murder may have been prevented had the proper police protocols and procedures simply been followed.”
Hegarty was sentenced alongside Ciaran Nugent, formerly of the Simon Community on the Falls Road.
Nugent received at least 14 years in prison.
A Police Ombudsman’s report concerning the handling of the case in 2017 found that the police decision making which led to Hegarty’s release from custody was flawed.
It also said had a more appropriate course of action been taken by police, it may have reduced the likelihood of what happened.
Source – Belfast Telegraph 28th September 2022