‘Unnecessary’ arrest led to Kelly Land Rover incident

Gerry Kelly e la Land Rover

UTV can exclusively reveal the arrest of a teenage boy which sparked the now infamous Gerry Kelly Land Rover incident was unnecessary.

The senior officer who ordered the arrest of the 16-year-old was criticised in a report by the Police Ombudsman.

The incident, which unfolded in the Carrick Hill area of north Belfast in 2013 following a contentious parade, resulted in Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly clinging to the bonnet of a PSNI vehicle.

The MLA insisted he was just trying to speak to the officer involved in the arrest.

Footage of the incident was beamed across the world and the fallout was huge, with unionists calling for Mr Kelly to be prosecuted and brought before the courts.

A number of investigations were carried out and Gerry Kelly and the driver of the Land Rover were formally reprimanded.

Now, UTV has obtained the findings of an investigation by the Police Ombudsman which said the arrest of the teenager was unnecessary.

There was no blame for the officer who made the arrest, instead for the senior policeman who issued the order.

He insists the teenager’s detention was to stop him from committing further offences.

But ultimately he was only given an informed warning, which meant his behaviour was not deemed to be serious.

However the PSNI has rejected that and is standing by its officer.

ACC Stephen Martin said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland did not accept the recommendation and advised the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland accordingly.”

Meanwhile Gerry Kelly said he feels vindicated by the findings of the Police Ombudsman’s report.

“Clearly from any sensible point of view it was the wrong decision – the ombudsman has found that it was a wrong decision, I think the police officer himself must have known it was the wrong decision, yet he persisted in doing it,” the MLA said.

“So I do think that that it was worth going to the ombudsman and making the complaint, and this result should have been acted on by the PSNI.

“I understand it hasn’t been and I will be asking why.”