Took police two days to act after sniffer dog 'picked up something'

Published: 20 Sep 2012 13:00

A PSNI Detective Sergeant has said police manpower was the reason why it took two days after a trained police dog "picked up something" for police action to be taken to find the body of a 16-year-old boy with learning difficulties.

Daniel Mohan whose inquest was held in Enniskillen on Thursday.

The body of Daniel Mohan, of Foxhill Close, Enniskillen was found in River Erne close to Willoughby Place in the town on Friday, April 30, 2010, five days after his mother had reported him missing. A Coroner's court in Enniskillen found that he died due to freshwater drowning.

The court heard that a PSNI dog handler had been briefed and attended the scene on Wednesday, April 28. "His trained police dog picked up something in the vicinity between Portora boathouse and the Round O Slipway. There was no immediate response. It does seem clear from the papers it was a day or two days later before action was taken," said solicitor for the Mohan family, Mr. Sean McHugh.

Detective Sergeant Keith Monaghan, who was not part of the initial investigation, responded: "I would say that police are on 24/7 call-out. It takes organisation. I believe that [the search with the dog] was the evening that day."

"Was it an issue of manpower?" asked Mr. McHugh. "As we always are, yes," Detective Sergeant Monaghan replied.

A Police Ombudsman's report conducted after Daniel's death led to nine police officers being disciplined after they failed in an effort to locate Daniel in an "expeditious and thorough manner".

Earlier during the hearing, Mrs. Tracey McMulkin, Daniel's mother told Coroner Mr. John Leckey that she was not reassured that a pathologist had found no evidence that her son had been assaulted before he went into the water.

Mr Leckey said to Mrs. McMulkin that he understood that the family was concerned her son, who had ADHD and challenging behaviour, had been attacked or thrown into the river prior to his death.

"All the evidence was carefully considered by the forensic pathologist . . he is satisfied nothing he found signifies that Daniel was subjected to being beaten up or assaulted. I hope that is reassuring," he told her.

"No, it is not," she replied.

The inquest heard that when he died, Daniel had two illicit drugs BZP and TFMPP in his body as well as a low level of the tranquilliser Diazepam. These drugs are taken for "stimulant and euphoric effects," Mr. Leckey said.

"I can't help but think that the drug dealer who sold these drugs to Daniel bears some responsibility for this tragedy," he said.

On questioning, Mrs. McMulkin told the court that she had provided money to pay off a drug dealer. "He was afraid of the drug dealer," she said.

Mrs. McMulkin said she last saw her son on April 23 when he left home to go to see Lee Williams. "Daniel was in Lee's house seven days a week and Lee would have come into my house. They were together all of the time. They were inseparable. They went to Erne Special School together," she said.

The inquest heard that Mark Convey had confessed to police that he, Daniel and two others had been involved in a burglary at Portora on the night. One of those named by Mark Convey, Robert Smith from Maguiresbridge, gave evidence and denied any involvement. He said: "Police told me I was meant to be at a house with Lee Williams, Mark Convey and Daniel Mohan. I had been told Convey claimed all four of us broke into Portora. That is all lies. I do not know any of those fellas. I heard about the body of Daniel Mohan being found in the lake. I never knew or met him".

He said that he had been on police curfew when he was arrested for a burglary at Portora. He said he had been at the Tippler's Brook pub in Enniskillen from 6pm, drinking with Mark Suttle, and left at 2am. He planned to go to his sister's house at Old Rossorry Terrace so he walked towards the Round O when he heard the "police blues and twos".

"I ran because I was under curfew," he said. He was arrested and interviewed by police.

Although he was called, there was no appearance at the inquest by Mark Convey.

Detective Sergeant Monaghan agreed that there was no evidence that Daniel was involved in a burglary at Portora other than Mark Convey's admission. He agreed that police would regard the contributions of Daniel's alleged accomplices with a "degree of scepticism",

The court heard the allegation that it was believed that Mr. Smith and Mr. Williams did know Daniel. "I believe both parties knew Daniel and possibly were with him on the evening," said Detective Sergeant Monaghan.

When asked what stage the police enquiry was at, he said there was no further evidence and agreed no further police action is to be taken unless something new emerged to reactivate the enquiry. This could be "an individual coming forward indicating they had seen Daniel elsewhere".

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