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Coroner urges speeding up of inquest into PSNI shooting

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

A coroner has said he wants to inject some "adrenaline" into an inquest into the death of a man shot by police 10 years ago.

Steven Colwell (23) passed away in April 2006 after police fired on a BMW when it failed to stop for officers in Ballynahinch, Co Down.

The policeman who shot Mr Colwell, known only as Officer O, was accused of critically flawed judgment following an investigation by former police ombudsman Al Hutchinson.

At a preliminary hearing, Judge Neil Rafferty, who was recently appointed to oversee the controversial case, said he was anxious to make progress.

He told Belfast's Laganside Court: "I am keen to hear this and to inject some adrenaline into process.

"I am very keen to get this inquest up and running as soon as possible."

A full inquest is expected to take place at some point next spring and will last between four and six weeks.

However, a start date and venue have yet to be confirmed.

A barrister representing the Colwell family said they had been requesting access to withheld court papers for months.

While legal teams have been allowed to see the documents, lawyers have been barred from discussing their content because of ongoing issues with redactions, the court was told.

Karen Quinlivin QC argued that the family was entitled to see them.

She said: "They are interested in reading the papers. They are very motivated and have been asking for this since September."

Ms Quinlivin told the court the family was also still waiting for Officer O's training records and information about PSNI policy regarding firearms.

She additionally stressed that the family objected to the inquest being held in a court outside Belfast.

Earlier, the court was told the disclosure of documentation was very advanced.

Peter Coll, representing the coroner, said a "large amount of papers" had been gathered and created during the course of an Ombudsman's investigation.

He added that 35 folders of information had been handed to interested parties, but acknowledged that a number of others containing more sensitive material had yet to be released.

The court will also receive video material - including CCTV footage of the scene shortly after the incident taken from a police helicopter - and other images and photographs of the scene.

The case was adjourned until January 10.

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