Two charged over cell death

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A PSNI sergeant and a former civilian detention officer have been charged with the manslaughter of a man who died while in a police cell.

Sergeant Brian McKenna and former detention officer Alexander McAllister are both accused of the manslaughter of David McGowan on May 30, 2014.

The case was adjourned for five weeks after an application made by the defence team.

The pair are also accused of misconduct in public office, in that in their respective roles they “wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification neglected to perform a duty of care” to Mr McGowan on a date between May 28 and 31.

David McGowan, (28) from Lisburn, was arrested in May 2014 after an incident on the Beersbridge Road. He was found dead in a cell at Lisburn PSNI station hours later. The charges follow an investigation by the Police Ombudsman.

In court, on Thursday lawyers for the defendants, neither of whom attended court, said there were voluminous papers in the case.

Hamill Clawson, acting for Mr McAllister, told District Judge Rosie Watters he was asking for an adjournment to allow time to “properly consider the papers” while Mr McKenna’s defence solicitor revealed she had been served with “four lever arch files” of evidence and statements.

Adjourning the case to July 21, Judge Watters said the adjournment applications “are not unreasonable”.

In the aftermath of Mr McGowan’s death, investigators from the Police Ombudsman interviewed members of his family, and witnesses to the incident.

The case had been scheduled for a Preliminary Enquiry at Lisburn Magistrates Court, potentially referring it to the higher Crown Court.

Mr McKenna and Mr McAllister, gave c/o Lisburn PSNI station as their addresses.

In a statement, the lawyers representing Mr McGowan’s family had welcomed the decision to prosecute.