Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

This is the end, shot lawyer said

A high-flying barrister sent a text message to a friend saying "This is the end" hours before he was shot dead by police, an inquest has heard.

Mark Saunders, 32, was killed in a volley of shots fired by marksmen who surrounded his home after he blasted a shotgun from a kitchen window on May 6 2008.

A coroner was told he sent three texts to Alex Booth, the best man at his wedding two years earlier, during the five-hour siege in Chelsea, west London.

After a first blank text message, the second read: "This is the end my only friend, the end. X" A second text message said: "Call me now."

In a statement, Mr Booth said he and the dead man would often quote music and films and the message was a quote from a song by The Doors used in the soundtrack of Apocalypse Now.

The inquest heard that Mr Saunders struggled with drink in the years before the shooting, attending Alcoholics Anonymous and asking for help from his GP. The family law specialist, employed by the QEB chambers in London's Temple, had also recently taken cocaine and had been prescribed antidepressants.

His wife, Elizabeth, said she suspected he had been drinking heavily on the day of his death when he failed to answer his mobile phone as she called from work.

Fighting back tears as she gave evidence at Westminster Coroner's Court, Mrs Saunders said her husband was a "very sensitive and caring man" with "huge energy and love for life". She said he had been teetotal since March that year as he battled to control drinking which had led to several "blips" when he disappeared late at night.

Mrs Saunders, also a barrister at QEB chambers, said: "What Mark wanted to do was control the drinking, to be able to be a social drinker. He was successful in that for most of the time. However, it is right to say he was working on this. There were occasions, probably every three months or so, when it went wrong."

Mr Booth said his friend would often hurt himself and lose his phone when drinking, adding "he completely lost touch with reality" and that "you could not engage with him".

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph