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Two PSNI officers go on trial accused of dumping drugs seized in an arrest

Constables Neil Campbell and Michael Campfield are jointly accused of failing to retain evidence and failing to record information

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Paul HigginsBelfast Telegraph

Two police officers have gone on trial accused of misconduct in public office after they allegedly dumped drugs they seized in an arrest.

Constables Neil Campbell and Michael Campfield are jointly accused of failing to retain evidence and failing to record or provide relevant information when they had a duty to do so between November 21 and 24, 2018, when they had a reasonable suspicion an offence had been committed.

The Newry Crown Court jury heard that according to the prosecution case, the pair seized a bag of around 50 blue tablets when they arrested a burglary suspect in a Salvation Army hostel.

However, they dumped them in a bin in the custody suite at Musgrave Street PSNI station without making any record of the seizure, the court heard.

Crown counsel James Johnston told the jury that because the bag of loose blue tablets was never recovered “we cannot prove they were illegal”, but that was not an issue for the jury to consider.

“They deliberately, and I don’t use that word lightly, they deliberately dumped them in the bin while waiting to present the person to the custody sergeant,” declared the barrister.

“They made a decision to do that earlier and they deliberately chose not to create a record.

“We say that amounts to significant breaches of the duties that police are subject to… and we say that’s a wilful neglect of duty and wilful misconduct of the public trust,” said Mr Johnston. He told the jury that when the officers arrested the man at the Centenary House hostel in Belfast city centre, they seized the bag of tablets along with some food, tinfoil and a needle.

The pair showed the clear plastic bag to a member of staff there who opined they might be Diazepam and she recorded it in the hostel’s computer system.

He said while the officers and the suspect were in the custody suite, there was CCTV footage which shows how “Constable Campbell moved away and although you won’t see it, it’s the prosecution case that he then dumped the bag into the bin just a short time before the custody sergeant was ready to deal with them”.

Outlining to the sergeant that “they suspected the person was a drug user”, Mr Johnston said apart from their duties as officers, recording the seizure of the tablets would have been important as that may have affected what steps were taken in the custody suite to keep the prisoner safe.

The alleged offences were uncovered the following day when the hostel refused to accept the suspect back, disclosing to another officer they were refusing because of the drug seizure by Constables Campbell and Campfield, stationed at Grosvenor Road and Woodbourne PSNI respectively.

Mr Johnston stressed to the jury that when they come to assess the evidence, they had to “remain impartial throughout,” allowing neither sympathy nor prejudice to enter their deliberations.

The trial, set to last into next week, continues.

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