The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has taken a decision not to prosecute two individuals reported in connection with the murder of German tourist Inga Maria Hauser in April 1988.
Two suspects – a 60-year-old man and a 57-year-old woman – were reported by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in respect of the circumstances surrounding Ms Hauser’s disappearance and death after she arrived in Northern Ireland as part of a trip across Europe.
The first suspect was reported in connection with Ms Hauser’s murder. The second suspect was reported for withholding information in relation to the murder from police.
The PSNI conducted an extensive and detailed investigation which resulted in the submission of a file to the PPS in June 2019. All the evidence and information on this file was carefully considered by a team of senior prosecutors with the assistance of advice from independent senior counsel. It was concluded that the evidence in respect of both suspects did not provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence.
All decisions as to prosecution are taken by the application of the Test for Prosecution, as set out in the PPS Code for Prosecutors. The Test is met if, in relation to an identifiable individual, the available evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction (the Evidential Test) and if prosecution is in the public interest (the Public Interest Test).
The evidential difficulties contributing to the decision that the Test for Prosecution was not met in the case of the first suspect included:
- The absence of evidence to link the suspect to the victim after she disembarked the ferry at Larne Port on 6th April 1988;
- The absence of evidence to link the suspect to the location at which Ms Hauser’s body was found;
- The recovery of DNA evidence from the crime scene, believed to be closely connected to the commission of the offence, that did not match the suspect;
- A lack of clarity, arising from conflicting expert evidence, in relation to the approximate date of death which undermined the case against the suspect.
In relation to the second suspect, the evidence was insufficient to establish that she possessed and withheld information that would have been of material assistance to the police investigation.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Agnew, said: “The murder of Inga Maria Hauser causes enduring distress and pain over 32 years later. We in the PPS acknowledge the deep disappointment felt today by the family and friends who loved Inga Maria and still miss her.
“The file received by the PPS contained the product of extensive PSNI investigations and was given the most careful consideration by a team of highly experienced prosecutors. The Test for Prosecution was applied to this evidence, in line with our Code for Prosecutors.
“The standard of proof required in a successful criminal prosecution is high. The PPS can only prosecute a case which is assessed as having a reasonable prospect of conviction. In this case, our conclusion was that the available evidence was insufficient to meet this standard and therefore the Test for Prosecution was not met.
“We have offered reassurance to the family of Inga Maria that this decision was taken only after a most careful and thorough consideration of all available evidence.”
Mr Agnew said that the reasons for the decision were outlined to the victim’s family this morning.
The Deputy Director added: “The prosecution team today met with Inga Maria’s sister Friederike via video conference, alongside police, during which we outlined in detail the reasons for the decision not to prosecute. This rationale was also provided in writing. We thank Friederike for taking the time to meet with us.
“Should Inga Maria’s family wish to meet with us again in future, we are fully committed to doing so and will seek to answer any further questions that they may have.”
- The PPS takes all decisions in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors, which can be found here. The Code includes the right of any party to request a review of a decision not to prosecute.
- A file was first submitted by police to the PPS’s Central Casework Section on 30th June 2019. In October 2019, police provided further evidence and information in connection with the investigation.
- The letter provided to Ms Hauser’s family today was provided in both German and English and the video conference was assisted by a German translator.
- For media queries, please contact the PPS Communications Unit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org inside office hours. The out of hours officer can be contacted on 07990 031568.