Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Duggan shot dead 'in self-defence'

Pam and Marlon Duggan, the mother and brother of Mark Duggan, who was shot by armed police in north London

The police marksman who shot Mark Duggan claimed he acted in self-defence because he thought Mr Duggan was brandishing a gun, an inquest has heard.

Jurors at the Royal Courts of Justice were told that the officer, known only as V53, opened fire because he feared Mr Duggan, 29, presented a lethal threat.

The father of four was shot when the taxi in which he was travelling was stopped by armed police in Tottenham, north London, in August 2011.

Counsel to the inquest into Mr Duggan's death, Ashley Underwood QC, said: "Mr Duggan wasn't shocked into submission, he got out of the minicab and he ran. You will hear from V53 that he was running with a gun in his hand and he started to bring the gun into the aim."

The officer said that he had opened fire "in self-defence", and that the first shot failed to incapacitate Mr Duggan, so he fired a second time. However the panel of eight women and three men also heard that the gun was found 10 to 20 feet away from the site of the shooting, and that Mr Duggan may have had a mobile phone in one hand just before he was killed.

Mr Underwood told them they will need to address two key questions, firstly whether the operation that ended in Mr Duggan's death was planned and implemented in a way that minimised to the greatest extent possible recourse to lethal force. The second issue is whether it was absolutely necessary for the officer to fire two shots, one of which would have proved fatal "within 10 heartbeats".

Several of Duggan's relatives and loved ones attended the second day of the inquest, including his aunt Carole Duggan who wore a black T-shirt bearing the slogan "time for truth and justice".

The jury was told that the case has been complicated by an anonymous note that was sent last year to a number of people including Mr Duggan's family and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. It claimed that a police informant had told his handler that he could persuade Mr Duggan to pick up the gun, allowing officers to arrest him. Mr Underwood said: "The letter goes on to say that (arrest) was bound to lead to Mr Duggan being shot dead because the letter suggests that anything less than that would have led to the informant being exposed." Police claim that there is no evidence to back those claims and that the note was designed to discredit the officer who acted as handler for the informant.

The inquest heard that in the lead-up to Mr Duggan's death, the Serious Organised Crime Agency supplied intelligence to Scotland Yard's anti-gun crime unit Trident that he planned to pick up a gun from another man, Kevin Hutchinson-Foster. Following a tip-off on the day of his death, officers followed Mr Duggan as he travelled in the minicab. Three unmarked police cars, each containing three armed officers, then hemmed in the car. After Mr Duggan got out of the cab, V53 shot him twice - one shot hit him in the right biceps, and the other, fatal, blow hit the right side of his chest, hitting his aorta and exiting the left side of his back. Police gave Mr Duggan first aid in a "very strenuous and very professional" way after the shooting, but emergency medical teams could not save him, Mr Underwood said. Investigators later found the gun 10 to 20 feet away from the site of the shooting in Ferry Lane. It contained one bullet and was capable of firing, the court heard.

The jury is due to visit the scene on Thursday, and evidence is expected to begin next week.

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