THE PSNI has apologised to the family of a murder victim after the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland identified significant failings by officers in the days before the killing.
Glenn Quinn, 47, was found beaten to death in his Carrickfergus home on Saturday, January 4, 2020 following a ‘shocking and brutal attack’.
In the wake of Ombudsman Marie Anderson’s findings, the police admitted to ‘shortcomings’ in dealing with intelligence indicating Mr Quinn’s life was at risk.
However, the force decided against her recommendation to discipline an officer involved, instead implementing new training and procedures.
Three days before Mr Quinn’s body was discovered, police received intelligence via Crimestoppers that referenced his name and home address and stated he was to be shot dead at the property.
However, two Duty Inspectors who each assessed the intelligence concluded it did not constitute ‘a real and immediate threat to life’.
The Duty Inspector who initially received the intelligence on January 1, 2020 noted that the name and address it mentioned did not match information about Mr Quinn on police systems.
The since-retired officer advised against tasking out-of-hours resources to research the intelligence, instead deciding it should be revisited the following day and instructing police patrols in the area to give ‘passing attention’ to the address.
Enquiries by Police Ombudsman investigators confirmed that a police patrol visited the area shortly afterwards.
The next day, an intelligence researcher similarly found no link between Mr Quinn and the address but asked for a second Duty Inspector to assess the threat.
The second Duty Inspector also concluded there was no clear or immediate threat to Mr Quinn and decided against sending officers to the address as it might cause unnecessary concern to anyone living there.
‘Reasonable line of enquiry’
The Police Ombudsman concluded that Mr Quinn had not been informed about the threat as he had not been associated on police systems with the address provided in the intelligence.
“This led to police failing to identify him as a target,” said Mrs Anderson.
“However, if police had visited the address it is likely that they would have been able to confirm that he lived there, which would have verified the credibility of the threat.
“This would have led to Mr Quinn being given a threat warning notice which would have provided him with an opportunity to consider police advice in respect of appropriate precautionary measures.”
Mrs Anderson said visiting the address was ‘a reasonable line of enquiry that police ought to have pursued’ and recommended the second Duty Inspector, who is still with the force, should be disciplined.
However, the PSNI concluded the officer had no case to answer for misconduct, a decision that disappointed Mrs Anderson ‘given the significance of the failings identified’.
The PSNI did accept Mrs Anderson’s recommendation for the introduction of formal training for police officers required to make critical ‘life and death’ decisions while responding to suspected death threats.
‘Brutal and senseless murder’
In a statement today, Deputy Chief Constable Chris Todd apologised to Mr Quinn’s family as he outlined new procedures for handling threat intelligence.
“First and foremost, on behalf of the Police Service, I want to apologise to the family of Glenn Quinn for the shortcomings in the handling of the threat assessment in the days leading up to his murder,” he said.
“My thoughts are with Glenn’s family at this difficult time
“Those responsible for the brutal and senseless murder of Glenn need to be brought to justice and I would appeal for anyone with information to come forward in confidence.
“The Police Service accepts the learning highlighted by the Police Ombudsman during her investigation and we have now implemented recommendations to ensure that incidents of a similar nature do not occur again.
“Formal training for officers required to make critical life and death decisions while responding to death threats has now been introduced.
“In addition, instructions have also been issued to those involved in the management of threats to reinforce the importance of ensuring that all feasible operational steps are taken to mitigate the threat and ensure a consistent approach to the assessment of threat messages.
“We must be a learning organisation and I take responsibility for that.”
The independent charity Crimestoppers has offered a reward of up to £40,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Mr Quinn’s murder.
They can be contacted online or by phone on 0800 555111.