THE Police Ombudsman’s office is to review the case of a Catholic man allegedly beaten by police during clashes in east Belfast, it was confirmed last night.
The case took another twist yesterday when Paud Devenny, who is still recovering from serious injuries sustained in the Short Strand on May 11, instructed his solicitors to disclose all material to the ombudsman, including witness statements and medical records.
The development came 10 days after the ombudsman’s office concluded that no evidence had been found to support allegations that police officers assaulted the senior Sinn Fein member.
Executive director David Wood said the probe had been severely hampered because no eyewitnesses came forward.
Amateur footage had shown Mr Devenny attempting to defuse a confrontation between the police and a crowd hurling missiles but the ombudsman’s report said there was a possibility “he was hit by one of these missiles”.
The findings of the report sparked an angry row between Sinn Fein and the ombudsman’s office.
But at a press conference in east Belfast yesterday, Mr Devenny, who is also pursuing a civil action against the police, said he would be seeking an urgent meeting with the ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, to demand that the case be reopened.
“I feel, as the victim, I am being victimised for a second time,” he said.
“I have instructed my solicitors to hand over the statements of evidence and release records to the ombudsman.
“I would encourage any other witnesses to my assault to come forward with their evidence.”
Angela Ritchie of Madden and Finucane solicitors insisted there was no decision to ‘withhold’ any information from the ombudsman and claimed she had still not received a copy of the report.
“At no stage was there a decision
by ourselves or our client to withhold
any information from the ombudsman,” she said.
“The ombudsman was always fully aware that our client would call on witnesses to come forward to the ombudsman when we were satisfied about the progress of the investigation and our client was provided disclosure of the ombudsman’s material.
“We trust that the ombudsman will give our client greater input and access into the investigation of his own complaint.”
A spokesman for the ombudsman’s office said Mr Devenny’s legal representatives had been “repeatedly asked” for information, which he claimed was not forthcoming.
But welcoming the decision to disclose material, he said: “We are anticipating receiving the material from Mr Devenny and will review the case when we have examined that material.”
Joe O’Donnell, Sinn Fein councillor for East Belfast, repeated his belief that Mr Devenny had been assaulted by police.
“Let me make the Sinn Fein position very clear. We have encouraged people to bring issues of concern regarding
PSNI behaviour to the attention of the ombudsman,” he said.
“We have also encouraged people to make statements to her office. We have been wholly consistent about this. This was the position we adopted regarding the case of Paud Devenny.”