PSNI defends decision to arrest and later 'de-arrest' Cookstown hotel owner

Michael McElhatton. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The PSNI is refusing to apologise for arresting the owner of a Cookstown hotel on suspicion of possessing drugs with the intent to supply.

The 52-year-old was later de-arrested after a white substance was found to be harmless.

Michael McElhatton owns the Greenvale Hotel where three teenagers died in a crush on St Patrick's day.

He was also questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and has been released on bail but says the drug allegation "blackened his name".

Speaking last night, Mr McElhatton said: "I am shocked and horrified that the powdery substance taken by police from the laundry in my house could be drugs.

"Despite there being no basis to these suspicions, they have blackened my name and caused so much upset for so many people especially those who are grieving and distressed over the events at the Greenvale Hotel."

Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray defended his officers saying that it is a fast moving investigation.

"The very fact that as soon as we got the results, we expeditiously made it known to the individual and then issued the update to the media, I think shows transparency," said Det Chief Spt Murray.

"There is, what I would describe, from the community and the media a hunger for transparency."

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