- 21 Mar 19
Michael McElhatton, owner of the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in relation to the death of three teenagers at the hotel on March 17.
The hotel owner was then further arrested on Wednesday (March 20), on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply.
However, two hours after announcing the second arrest, the PSNI issued another statement saying a 52-year-old man had been "de-arrested" following the "fast-track forensic examination of a suspicious package".
Last night the PSNI confirmed that the man had been released on police bail to return for further questioning at a future date.
Questions have been raised about the PSNI's decision to release their initial statement about the second arrest of Mr. McElhatton for drug charges, only to announce that they had "de-arrested" him so soon after.
The hotel owner released a statement last night, saying: “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.
“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.”
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: “Once opened by the Forensic Science Agency for Northern Ireland the substance inside the bag was ascertained to be an innocent substance.
“The suspect was then de-arrested in respect of the drugs offence and a communication made to the media.
“The PSNI would like to make it clear that there is no suspicion of any crime relating to misuse of drugs on behalf of the person who still remains in custody.”
The funerals of the three victims, Lauren Bullock (17), Morgan Barnard (17) and Connor Currie (16), will take place tomorrow, March 22.