Teen deaths | 

Greenvale tragedy: Two men and company behind hotel to be charged over crush

Lauren Bullock (17), Morgan Barnard (17) and Connor Currie (16) died as hundreds of people queued at the doors of the Co Tyrone disco in 2019

Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock and Connor Currie

Forensics at the scene

The Greenvale Hotel, where three teenagers died in a St Patrick's night crush on 2019.

Niamh CampbellBelfast Telegraph

Two men and the company that runs the Greenvale Hotel are being charged over a crush outside the Cookstown venue that resulted in the deaths of three teenagers.

Lauren Bullock (17), Morgan Barnard (17) and Connor Currie (16) died as hundreds of people queued at the doors of the Co Tyrone disco on March 17 2019.

Two men, aged 55 and 43, are each to be charged with three counts of gross negligence manslaughter – one charge for each of the deaths - as well as offences for breaching health and safety laws.

The company which runs the Greenvale Hotel, known as Tobin Limited, will also face one charge of contravening the same health and safety legislation.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) revealed the findings of its investigation into the St Patrick’s Day tragedy on Thursday, informing the young people’s families of their decisions before the details were made public.

Forensics at the scene

Senior Public Prosecutor Graham Cardwell said “criminal proceedings will commence in due course and we will continue to engage directly with the families involved as the prosecution progresses”.

The PPS had been examining files of evidence from that night over the past two years.

In a statement, the PPS said: “The PPS received an investigation file from the PSNI in relation to the Greenvale Hotel incident, on which 11 individuals were reported as potential suspects.”

Seven of the nine individuals who will not be prosecuted were working as door staff at the St Patrick’s Day event, while the remaining two had roles in connection with entertainment and hotel management respectively.

“The PPS concluded that each of these nine could have exercised very little control over the planning for and management of the events which unfolded, or alternatively held a role which carried little responsibility for the safety of hotel patrons,” the statement continued.

The PPS also received a file from the Police Ombudsman after its investigation into the actions of five PSNI officers at the scene.

Each officer was investigated and reported for the offence of misconduct in public office, as it was reported that police waited 16 minutes before intervening in the incident.

“The allegations against the officers in the report related to a period from 9.25pm to 9.48pm which were the times of a 999 call to police and officers later arriving at the hotel,” the PPS said.

“The investigation focused on the actions of the police call dispatcher and two sets of police officers who were on duty in Cookstown at the time.”

The Greenvale Hotel, where three teenagers died in a St Patrick's night crush on 2019.

The PPS found that the call dispatcher “adequately communicated the seriousness of the situation to the other officers” and that available evidence was ‘insufficient’ to establish that the remaining four officers “recognised the seriousness or exact nature of the situation that was unfolding”.

Mr Cardwell concluded: “The offence of misconduct in a public office is committed where a public officer, without reasonable excuse or justification, wilfully neglects to perform his duty to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder.

“The threshold for this offence is high. I have concluded that the Test for Prosecution is not met against any of the five officers. The evidence was not capable of establishing any bad faith or improper motive in the actions of police at the scene or that they wilfully ignored a high-risk situation of which they were aware.”

Responding to the PPS’ announcement, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the PSNI referred itself to the Police Ombudsman following the tragedy.

“We again extend our deepest sympathies to [the victims’] families on what is understandably a difficult day for them,” he said.

"Given the decision to commence proceedings against two individuals and a limited company, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further whilst we continue to work with the PPS to present these matters to the court.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland referred itself to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in the aftermath of the incident.

"Following the direction not to prosecute any police officers, the misconduct investigation undertaken by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is still live and we will await receipt of their report and any recommendations in due course.”

Liam Kelly, chair of the Police Federation which represents rank and file officers, said it was “to be welcomed” that there was no criminal culpability by the police officers on the night of the tragedy.

“This has also been a difficult three years for our officers, and I am sure they are relieved that any potential criminal matters are not being progressed against any of them,” stated Mr Kelly, who also said his thoughts were with the victims’ families.

“However, that unfortunately is not the end of the matter as the officers will now have to wait on the Police Ombudsman to establish if she recommends any misconduct proceedings against any of the officers.

“This process should be completed as expeditiously as possible. Officers need to have closure and we would urge the Police Ombudsman’s office to fast-track its decision so that clarity is provided and the officers can move on with their lives and careers.”

Morgan Barnard’s family has previously called for a public inquiry into the tragedy, with his father hoping it would “expose all the truth, the before, the during and the after”.

Justice Minister Naomi Long last March ruled out an inquiry, saying she believed it could prejudice any criminal proceedings.

However, speaking to BBC News NI this week, she said: "It would have been inappropriate for me to take a decision in and around the issue of a public inquiry at a time when there was already a live criminal investigation underway.

"Depending on the outcome with the PPS today there may be scope to look at that again."

She added that the current lack of a functioning Executive may hinder any future inquiry though, as it could require decisions across more than one Stormont department.

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos