PSNI officers disciplined after 'sham wedding' arrests
- 12 June 2012
Three police officers in Londonderry have been disciplined for arresting a couple on their wedding day, after wrongly suspecting they were involved in a sham marriage.
The Police Ombudsman had ruled that Neil McElwee from Castlederg and his pregnant Chinese fiance Yanan Sun, had been unlawfully arrested and detained by the police.
The police wrongly arrested the couple, moments before the ceremony at the Guildhall in Derry.
PSNI Inspector John Burrows said the police had acted in good faith, but sometimes they got things wrong.
The couple were taken to a police station, forced to dress in forensic clothing and separated.
They were held for five hours and only released when their solicitor got involved. They were married the next day in Castlederg.
Mr McElwee said his day had started like every other wedding day.
"We were excited and looking forward to getting married.
"We were so happy when we saw each other at the Guildhall.
"Then everything just changed. Our day crumbled in front of us, it was awful.
"We had no reason to think anything sinister would take place.
"The room was full of plain clothes police officers.
"In front of all our guests they came in and said they had reason to believe it was a 'sham marriage'.
"They based the operation in an anonymous tip-off letter.
"They held us for five hours. Within 40 minutes they knew they had made a mistake.
"The officers have been disciplined but I'm not satisfied. We went through such a bad time, it was torment.
"We try to forget what happened on our wedding day. We never ever talk about our wedding.
"My wife has not been the same since," he said.
Karina Breslin-Carlin is the McElwee's family solicitor.
"The police had time to redeem this situation so the couple could have carried on with their day, but they did not.
"This was a farce.
"A bridal couple were kept in a car park for an hour and a half in separate vehicles.
"They were then detained in separate cells for two hours.
"This is not good enough under any circumstances," she said.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that as a result of a PONI investigation three police officers were disciplined.