Tyrone hotel owner 'de-arrested' in connection with drug suspicions

Latest: A hotel owner quickly cleared of drug suspicions has accused police of blackening his name after three teenagers died outside a St Patrick's Day disco.

Michael McElhatton, 52, owns the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown in Co Tyrone.

He was detained yesterday and remains in custody on suspicion of manslaughter.

He was further arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply but fast-track forensic analysis swiftly ruled out the possibility, police said.

Mr McElhatton said: "I am shocked and horrified that the powdery substance taken by police from the laundry in my house could be drugs.

Despite there being no basis to these suspicions, they have blackened my name and caused so much upset for so many people especially those who are grieving and distressed over the events at the Greenvale Hotel.

The youngsters died after a crush at the premises on Sunday evening which eyewitnesses described as chaotic.

The hotel owner added: "While I wished to respect the ongoing investigation by the police into the tragic deaths of the three young people at the Greenvale Hotel on St Patrick's night, I have no choice but to make it completely clear that I have nothing whatsoever to do with drugs.

"I can assure everyone that whatever any suspicions the police have raised about me in relation to anything to do with drugs is totally without any basis."

Students Lauren Bullock, 17, Connor Currie, 16, and Morgan Barnard, 17, all from nearby Dungannon in Co Tyrone, died.

A PSNI statement said: "Detectives from PSNI's major investigation team investigating the deaths of three teenagers at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Saint Patrick's Day have de-arrested a 52-year-old man, who was arrested earlier today on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.

"This follows fast track forensic examination of a suspicious package consisting of a white-powder substance and tin foil, found during a search of a house in Moneymore.

"The 52-year-old and the 40-year-old man remain in custody on suspicion of manslaughter."

The other suspect arrested yesterday on suspicion of manslaughter is a member of the popular nightspot's door staff.

Hundreds of mourners have left written and floral tributes to the three teenagers.

Up to 400 people were present as the tragedy unfolded, and detectives said it was fortunate more were not killed.

Police confirmed some were trampled underfoot as they waited to enter the disco.

Buses let youngsters off outside before the disaster happened.

Counselling services are being provided to those affected and prayer services have been held.

Earlier: Tyrone hotel owner arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply

A hotel owner has been arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply after three teenagers died outside a St Patrick’s Day disco.

Michael McElhatton, 52, owns the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown in Co Tyrone.

He was detained yesterday on suspicion of manslaughter.

The youngsters died after a crush at the premises on Sunday evening which eyewitnesses described as chaotic.

A PSNI statement said: “Detectives from PSNI’s major investigation team investigating the deaths of three teenagers at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Saint Patrick’s Day conducted a search at a house in Moneymore yesterday and seized a quantity of suspected Class A drugs.

“A 52-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter has been further arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.”

Michael McElhatton (Liam McBurney/PA)

Students Lauren Bullock, 17, Connor Currie, 16, and Morgan Barnard, 17, all from nearby Dungannon in Co Tyrone, died.

Another suspect arrested yesterday on suspicion of manslaughter, aged 40, is a member of the popular nightspot’s door staff.

Hundreds of mourners have left written and floral tributes to the three teenagers.

Today, DUP leader Arlene Foster signed a book of condolence in Cookstown.

She said: “I cannot begin to comprehend the pain and anguish the families of Lauren, Connor and Morgan are going through at this time.

“As a mother of two teenagers this is the news no parent should ever receive, particularly as young people go out for an evening of enjoyment.”

A mass booklet from a memorial service in memory of Lauren Bullock (Liam McBurney/PA)

She added: “The tragic loss of life has been felt across the entire area of Cookstown, Dungannon and beyond.

“There are many homes in Northern Ireland who have been devastated by tragedy over the bank holiday weekend.”

Up to 400 people were present as the tragedy unfolded, and detectives said it was fortunate more were not killed.

Police confirmed some were trampled underfoot as they waited to enter the disco.

Buses let youngsters off outside before the disaster happened.

Counselling services are being provided to those affected and prayer services have been held.

- Press Association

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