Finbarr McGrillen’s partner, Tina Gillespie, and his children Nicole, Kate and Joseph welcome today’s public admission by the Police Ombudsman of the critical Police failures which led to the death of her partner and their loving, gentle and devoted father but remain devastated by the impact of his murder.
The Police Ombudsman’s report, investigating the events surrounding the murders on the 13th December 2013 of Finbarr McGrillen and Caron Smith, has today revealed that the Police were aware that there was a real risk to the life of Caron Smith, and anyone who was in her company, if Sean Hegarty came into contact with her. Regardless of this they failed to take measures which were within their powers to avoid this risk.
The report exposes the catalogue of Police errors in their dealings with Sean Hegarty from his release from HMP Maghaberry in May 2013 until the decision to release him from Bangor Police Station on the 9th December 2013 when he was released, despite being in breach of court bail and with Police failing to carry out any necessary checks to his proposed new bail address. Fundamentally they failed to check if there was electricity for his court-imposed tagging equipment.
The consequence of this decision was that police ignored the subsequent reported breaches of bail by Sean Hegarty and he was released without any effective monitoring conditions in place. He was therefore able, along with Ciaran Nugent, to go to Finbarr McGrillen’s house and murder him and Caron Smith.
The family are pleased that the investigation has led to new policy recommendations being implemented by the PSNI and they hope this will prevent other families suffering the avoidable loss they have experienced. They will never come to terms with his tragic death. They are saddened by the fact that Finbarr’s death prevented him from meeting his grandson Finley born in May 2017. However, they remain angry that the releasing officer has escaped disciplinary action despite the Police Ombudsman’s recommendation.
Harte Coyle Collins
Solicitors & Advocates