Belfast Telegraph

Raiders' fatal shooting 'justified'

The force used by an armed garda who shot dead two raiders in a foiled post office robbery was proportionate, lawful and necessary, an inquiry ruled.

The Garda Ombudsman found the elite member of the emergency response unit honestly believed there was an immediate and real risk to life when he fired at Eric Hopkins and Colm Griffin.

The pair were shot at the Post Office in Lusk, Co Dublin, on May 26 2005, minutes after 48,500 euro had been delivered.

Mr Griffin was armed with a handgun and a third man, Gavin Farrelly, was smashing the glass screen with a sledge hammer when a plain clothes garda - known only as Garda A - began shooting.

Mr Hopkins' sister Belinda lodged a complaint with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) when no garda was prosecuted for her brother's death.

The inquiry team concluded Garda A acted in the honestly held belief there was an immediate and real risk to life and that the use of lethal force was justified in the circumstances.

He discharged two rounds from his official semi-automatic pistol at Mr Griffin and one round at Mr Hopkins, whom he believed had armed himself with Mr Griffin's gun after he was shot.

"The investigation concluded that the level of force used by Garda A in the shooting of Colm Griffin and Eric Hopkins was proportionate, lawful and no more than absolutely necessary," it added.

"Notwithstanding the complexity of the operation mounted by the gardai and the inherent unpredictability of what they had to deal with, the commission is of the view that there were certain systemic inadequacies."

No disciplinary file will be forwarded to the Garda Commissioner and no criminal file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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