A police officer has been convicted of perverting the course of justice after a Police Ombudsman investigation found that he fabricated interview notes during an investigation into a road traffic collision.
The officer submitted the notes to the Public Prosecution Service after claiming to have interviewed both the man and the woman involved in the crash, which happened in 2010.
However, both parties denied having been interviewed by the officer and questioned the authenticity of the documents.
The issue came to light during a civil court hearing initiated by one of the drivers after the PPS directed that neither should be prosecuted.
The court was adjourned and the investigating police officer was summonsed to appear at a future hearing. He failed to attend, and when a lawyer subsequently asked for a copy of the original handwritten interview notes, he told his supervisor they had been lost.
The officer then reported unfit for duty nine days before the relisted hearing, which went ahead in his absence. Both drivers stated that they had not been interviewed.
A subsequent PSNI review revealed a number of discrepancies in the case file. This resulted, in March 2012, in the matter being referred by the Chief Constable to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for independent investigation.
When interviewed by a Police Ombudsman investigator, both drivers said they had been at work on the date the officer claimed the interviews had taken place.
There was no record of either having been at the police station when the interviews were supposed to have occurred.
The police officer recorded as having issued and certified both interview booklets was found to have been off duty at the time, and there was no record of the interview booklets having been issued or returned.
Police records also showed that the officer was attending a call with a colleague at a time which overlapped with one of the interviews. His colleague said that at no stage during their shift had they been at the police station where the interview had allegedly taken place.
In addition, reference numbers used by the officer were found to have been used previously for other unrelated cases
Enquiries also showed that the officer failed to report the loss of the handwritten interview notes, and his police notebook for the same period could not be found.
When interviewed, the officer said his mental state had been affected by a traumatic incident which he had received treatment for. He believed the interviews had taken place, but had no memory of dealing with either of the drivers.
He also stated that he had tendered his resignation to the PSNI and it had been accepted.
The Police Ombudsman investigator submitted a file to the PPS which resulted in the officer being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. He was convicted and received a 12 month conditional discharge.