Two men to be charged over deaths of three teenagers in crush outside St Patrick's Day disco

·3-min read

Two men will be charged with gross negligence manslaughter over a crush outside a St Patrick's Day disco in Northern Ireland that killed three teenagers.

Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard, both 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died as up to 400 people queued at the doors of the Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown, in March 2019.

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said two men - aged 43 and 55 - are each to be charged with three counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

The same two individuals will also be charged with one offence of contravening the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.

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

The charges were announced on Thursday after prosecutors took two years to consider "complex" files compiled by both the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Police had reported 11 individuals as potential suspects after the tragedy in 2019.

Of the nine who will not be prosecuted, seven were described as door staff, while the other two had roles in connection with entertainment and hotel management respectively.

The PPS concluded each of the nine could have exercised very little control over the planning for, and management of, the events which unfolded.

They were also found to have roles which carried little responsibility for the safety of hotel patrons.

Following a separate investigation, the Police Ombudsman reported five police officers for the potential offence of misconduct in public office.

Four of them were three constables and a temporary sergeant who were travelling in separate cars at the time of the crush.

The PPS concluded there was insufficient evidence to establish the officers recognised the seriousness or exact nature of the situation that was unfolding.

The fifth officer was a call dispatcher who was found to have communicated, in good faith and without delay, the key information that he received directly as a result of the 999 call. The PPS concluded it could not be established that he had committed misconduct.

James Bradley, the father of victim Morgan Barnard, welcomed the decision to pursue prosecutions against the two men.

However, he said it was "deeply disappointing" that no police officers will be prosecuted.

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Senior Public Prosecutor Graham Cardwell said criminal proceedings will begin in "due course" as he acknowledged the day will be one of mixed emotions for the families of the three young people who died.

He said: "I have informed the families that whilst the test for prosecution was met in respect of two suspects, it was considered not to be met on evidential grounds in respect of all other individuals reported in connection with events at the Greenvale Hotel that night.

"Detailed reasons for these decisions not to prosecute have been provided in writing to the families and we have also offered to meet in person.

"Whilst some of the no prosecution decisions may be disappointing to them, I can reassure the families, and the wider public, that all decisions were taken independently and only after a most thorough examination of all evidence and information available."

Greenvale Hotel owner Michael McElhatton said on Thursday: "I am conscious that this is a highly sensitive time for the families and I feel that it would be inappropriate to comment at this time."

Mr McElhatton gave CPR to the victims on the day of the tragedy.