619 were in queue or car park on night of fatal crush at Cookstown disco

619 were in queue or car park on night of fatal crush at Cookstown disco

Flowers at the scene in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
Flowers at the scene in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

Update 8.15pm Police in the North have concluded that 619 people were in the queue or car park on the night of the crush at a disco in Cookstown.

Three teenagers were killed in the tragedy at the Greenvale Hotel on St Patrick's Day.

The PSNI says 267 of the 619 have now been fully interviewed using trained detectives and that they will continue to interview others over the next few days.

It says officers have been downloading mobile phone footage from people at the scene by using one of their cyber support vehicles in Cookstown.

Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray. Photo: PA.
Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray. Photo: PA.

An SDLP councillor has called for a senior detective to remove himself from an investigation into the hotel disco crush that killed three teenagers in Co Tyrone.

Denise Mullen, Chair of the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership, said Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray should step aside after the owner of the hotel was arrested and then 'de-arrested' last week.

Michael McElhatton, proprietor of the Greenvale Hotel, was arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter after Morgan Barnard, 17, Lauren Bullock, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died following the crush near the entrance to the hotel in Cookstown on March 17.

Connor Currie, Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard who lost their lives after the crush on St Patrick's Day.
Connor Currie, Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard who lost their lives after the crush on St Patrick's Day.

Mr McElhatton was further arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply but fast-track forensic analysis swiftly ruled out the possibility, police said.

A PSNI statement said: "Detectives from PSNI's major investigation team investigating the deaths of three teenagers at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Saint Patrick's Day have de-arrested a 52-year-old man, who was arrested earlier today on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply."

According to the Irish News, Ms Mullen made the call for Mr Murray to remove himself from the probe after he refused to apologise for the arrest.

Ms Mullen is reported to have lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman yesterday about the treatment of Mr McElhatton and said Mr Murray, who is head of the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch, must now step aside.

A spokesman for the ombudsman told the paper that while “the issue is not something we are taking forward in terms of her complaint we are making further enquiries”.

At the time of publication, more than 4,700 people had signed a change.org petition appealing for people's support that 'Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray should resign'.

Meanwhile, police officers who responded to the incident in Cookstown are to face investigation after it emerged they initially withdrew from the scene.

The PSNI's Chief Constable George Hamilton referred the actions of the officers to the Police Ombudsman yesterday after it emerged they initially withdrew from the scene.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said in a statement: “Following their initial assessment, they made attempts to establish more detail and information about what was happening and subsequently withdrew to await further police support.

“The timing and nature of police actions during this period require further investigation to fully establish the facts."

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