Police urge witnesses to Tyrone disco crush to come forward

Connor Currie, Lauren Bullock, and Morgan Barnard

Young witnesses to a crush that killed three teenagers outside a St Patrick’s Day disco will not face police action for being underage, detectives have said.

Police and prosecutors made the pledge in an effort to get more teenagers to come forward to speak to officers about the tragedy.

Schoolchildren Lauren Bullock, 17, Connor Currie, 16, and Morgan Barnard, 17, all from Co Tyrone, died in the incident outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Sunday night.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Councillor Sean McPeake, chairman of Mid-Ulster District Council, signing a book of condolence in Cookstown (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
Councillor Sean McPeake, chairman of Mid-Ulster District Council, signing a book of condolence in Cookstown (Liam McBurney/PA)

Giving an update on the police investigation, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said it was fortunate more were not killed in the crush.

“We could absolutely have been looking at more,” he said.

Books of condolence have opened across Northern Ireland in memory of the three teenagers who died.

Mr Murray said CCTV footage indicated that between 350 to 400 people had either been in the queue or the nearby area when the incident unfolded.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Youngsters sign a book of condolence in Cookstown (/PA)</figcaption>
Youngsters sign a book of condolence in Cookstown (/PA)

He said officers have traced the identities of 160 witnesses and already spoken to a number of them.

Mr Murray urged more young people to come forward, insisting that in the circumstances police were not concerned whether they were underage and attempting to enter a licensed premises.

He said he had received the same assurance from Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron.

“I want to thank everyone who has spoken with us so far, however there is still a significant number of people who were there that night, in the queue, and I need them to come forward to speak to police so we can understand what happened,” said Mr Murray.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray (Liam McBurney/PA)

“A number of parents have indicated they are concerned that their children, who may have been underage, were trying to enter a licensed premises,” he said.

“I want to reassure you, the focus of our investigation is not the age of people who were at the event – it is about trying to find answers for the families of the three teenagers who tragically died – we need to know what you saw so the heartbroken families of Connor, Lauren and Morgan know what happened to their children.

“I would urge parents to talk with your children, support them and encourage them to come forward and tell their story to police so we can get an accurate picture of events that night.

“Talk to your children, reassure them – we know they may be scared – but again I can assure you we are only interested in establishing what happened.

“Their account of events on Sunday night could be crucial to establishing how Connor, Lauren and Morgan died.”

Earlier: The owner of a Co Tyrone hotel where three teenagers died at a disco on Sunday night has said he is "shocked and saddened" by what happened.

Michael McElhatton is the owner of the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown where the St Patrick's night disco ended in tragedy.

"We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the traumatic events," he said.

"We offer our heartfelt sympathies to the families and the friends of the three young people who have lost their lives."

Flowers outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Flowers outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Earlier: Books of condolence have been opened across Co Tyrone in memory of three young people who died in a crowd surge on Sunday night

CCTV footage is being examined after teenagers were caught in a crush outside a disco in Cookstown.

The PSNI has asked parents to talk to their children about what has happened.

President Michael D Higgins says it was a 'terrible loss of life on St Patrick's Day' - and he's offered his condolences to the friends and families of the victims.

Catherine McHugh, principal of the college where one of the teens who was killed, Lauren Bullock, attended said the pupils have taken part in a prayer service to remember her.

"Our young people came in, lots of Lauren's friends, and we gathered together with our sister school next door, St Patrick's Academy and had a joint prayer service with pupils, parents and staff," she said.

Cheerleader Lauren Bullock, 17, keen sportsman Connor Currie, 16, and Morgan Barnard, 17, from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, died after a crush outside a St Patrick's Day disco in Co Tyrone.

Counselling is being offered at the teenager's schools to help fellow pupils come to terms with what has happened.

Police said it appeared that people had fallen and then been fatally injured, but are still investigating the cause.

Another 16-year-old girl was in a stable condition in hospital last night.

- Press Association and Digital Desk

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Cookstown

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