Northumbria police officer ‘failed to inform family of son’s death’

The McGann family did not learn that their son Martin had died until 11 a.m. the next morning, when a bishop called to express his condolences.

PC Philip Aiston also allegedly drove past the family home a week later to see what the property looked like when questions were asked, a misconduct committee was told.

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He made a trip to a hospital, left to attend to another incident, and even ordered a McDonalds during the shift he was serving as a sergeant when he allegedly failed to inform the family of their son’s death inform.

A misconduct hearing which began on Monday heard that Northumbria Police had received a request from Thames Valley Police on July 19, 2021 to inform the family of Martin McGann of their son’s death.

Martin, who studied at Ripon Theology College in Oxfordshire and was a former solicitor who practiced family law, was found in his student hall room. He hoped to become a church priest and follow in his venerable father’s footsteps.

PC Aiston says he drove to the family’s address in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, to break the tragic news and arrived there at around 1.30am on July 20. He claims he tried to deliver the message but there was no response.

The officer initially said he tried to make the call at 10:30 p.m., but later changed the time in his statement and allegedly gave a false duty report. He said the service report was based on his memory.

But according to communications data from the police car PC Aiston used that night, he did not visit her house. Mr Simon Mallet, representing the case for the relevant authority, said: “It is clear that the vehicle was not in the area at any time.

“The GPS also shows the vehicle was not on or near the property on July 20.”

Christine McGann, Martin’s mother, who wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke, told the panel that she and her husband Terry were awake at night because it was too hot to sleep and they never heard the call from Aiston.

She said: “We went to bed and it wasn’t until the next day when the college told us Martin had died that we said, ‘Well, someone should have come’.”

“We were awake half the night. How could we miss someone who came? I went downstairs to get a cup of tea and try to keep cool.”

When asked if she and her husband, who also testified, heard a knock on the door or a ringing of the doorbell, she replied, “No.”

The McGanns learned of Martin’s death after receiving a call from Bishop Southern at his college. A statement from the Rev. Terry McGann said: “He said he was sorry about Martin, which led me to believe that something had happened to him.”

“He said, ‘Do you think you don’t know?'”

PC Nick Patton, who Aiston was working with that evening, said he was completely unaware of any request to inform the McGanns of their son’s death and his colleague had not mentioned it.

Detective Constable Mark Taylor read communications evidence which showed that no police car Aiston was in had attended McGann’s Street on July 19 or 20.

In a trip recorded on communications data, Aiston later drove to the house on July 27 because he “hoped there would be security cameras there, which he hoped would confirm his presence.”

The hearing heard how PC Aiston left an email at the end of the day for the next shift asking someone to call the McGanns, saying “the police attended and received no response”.

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An investigation later revealed that Martin had taken an overdose, Mail Online reports. A coroner concluded his death was drug-related and said there was insufficient evidence to believe he tried to end his life.

PC Philip Aiston is accused of gross misconduct, failing to inform the McGanns of their son’s death and falsely claiming he had tried to tell them when he had not.

He is also accused of visiting her address without a legitimate reason.

The misconduct hearing at Houghton-le-Spring police station continues. The result is expected at the end of the week. Northumbria police officer ‘failed to inform family of son’s death’

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