Like most nights , I received a tip off to my phone alerting me that escaped prisoner Michael Smith had been spotted entering a property in the Hamilton Place area of Portrush and that ARV officers were preparing to hit the property. Michael Smith had been set free from prison following a mistake in his compassionate bail application. Michael had been accused of murdering Stephen Carson following a shooting incident in south Belfast. As ARV officers prepared their rifles I began the short 61 mile journey from my home in Belfast to get to the property. Upon arrival at Hamilton Place it was clear that ARV officers had not arrived. Parked up was an unmarked mondeo estate, all the hall marks of a police car. Two occupants , visible gird lights and no air freshener in the window. I jammed my Insignia estate down the same small entry way as the mondeo as I joined the officers watching the property. At around 1am the roar of 3 Auid A6 estates could be heard echoing through the small and sleepy streets of the seaside town. Armed officers pounced , G36C rifles drawn and advancing in formation on the small terrace house. With 3 bangs to the door the echo of “Armed Police” “Armed Police , open now” rang around the street. Lights came on in almost every house. Two occupants arrived to the door , one female in complete hysterics screaming and in floods of tears as the officers reassured her she would not be harmed. Once police officers had secured these occupants they advanced on the lower floor. Intelligence passed to uniform suggested that the male was in the ground floor living room of the property. Police began to storm each room , yelling – “Michael Smith , Armed Police , we know you are here, come out now.” After a 10 min search of the property it was apparent that the fugitive was either gone or never there. As officers left the occupants who stood bear foot on the street in a complete state of shock.
Its hard to describe the feeling you have as the incident unfolds, from the moment of communication to the moment of strike it varies. Its a terrible thing to say sometimes but the excitement tends to take over, its again a hard thing to explain. The excitement of Armed police storming a house , the chance of a fugitive hiding inside all keeps the situation very interesting and very real. In cases where the occupants are visually disturbed you tend to keep shooting, at the end of the day I have a job to do. I don’t know what lies ahed in that house. The Northern Ireland public would want to be there to see it unfold , its not possible for everyone to be there at once. Sometimes you have to be the eyes of the public who will see the drama the following morning.
Images – Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph