19 August 2005

Cops didn’t check CCTV


Vital evidence in Michael Green murder wasn’t collected by PSNI

By Joe Nawaz

The PSNI failed to collect vital CCTV footage from cameras just yards from the scene of the murder of Ballysillan man Michael Green, the South Belfast News can reveal.

Father of three Mr Green was shot five times outside Gilpin’s Furniture Store on Monday morning by UVF gunmen as part of their ongoing feud with splinter group the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The PSNI cordoned off Sandy Row on the day and interviewed shop owners along the main road but, according to a source, did not take CCTV footage from the Sandy Row community centre, just yards from the crime scene.

A spokesperson for the community centre revealed that Monday’s footage had since been deleted, in accordance with the centre’s policy.

Donna McCann explained how the footage was regularly wiped but in the case of Monday, it had been kept for an extra day.

“We normally erase our footage every 24 hours, but on Monday, as we couldn’t get access to the building because it was cordoned off, we had to do it the following day.”

Ms McCann said that police CID were in the process of interviewing staff at the centre but did not recollect that they had ever requested to view the CCTV tapes.

“I know that they have been interviewing everybody in the area this past week and they’re getting around to us today (Thursday) but I don’t remember whether they took or asked for CCTV footage,” she said.

This latest police oversight comes amid accusations of PSNI indifference to the bloody loyalist feud, which has already claimed four lives.

Earlier this month, there was widespread anger when PSNI officers stood by while 300 UVF thugs over ran Garnerville estate in East Belfast, with the aim of driving out alleged LVF members and their families who were living in the area.

Ulster Unionist MLA for South Belfast, Michael McGimpsey has been at the forefront of criticism against apparent police practice in relation to the current loyalist feud.

Although Mr McGimpsey refused to comment on any specific incident he did however say that police had been sending out the wrong message to paramilitaries.

“The message given to loyalist 'volunteers' is 'sort this out between yourselves', and now we have random murders as these organisations believe they can do as they wish,” Mr McGimpsey said.

A spokesperson for the PSNI refused to confirm whether the PSNI had requested footage from the Sandy Row community centre specifically, but added: “We have collected all available CCTV footage relating to the crime and this footage will form part of the ongoing investigation.”

Local MLA Alex Maskey said: “if this is true it will come as no surprise to nationalists, this is the same organisation that recently put loyalist violence in Aghohill down to personal disputes.”

Journalist:: Joe Nawaz

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