Officer had grounds to shoot robber
An off-duty policeman who shot and killed an armed robber in east Belfast had reasonable grounds to open fire, an inquest jury has decided.
The jury of eight men and two women also unanimously agreed that the officer had properly identified himself and issued a clear, loud and assertive warning before he shot Marc Alexander Ringland who had been holding a knife.
Mr Ringland, 29, was shot as he tried to flee a robbery at a filling station last February. He died in hospital a short time later.
The father-of-one, from Calvin Street, Belfast, had a lengthy criminal record with 133 convictions. His inquest heard how he had been hit in the chest by one round fired from the off-duty police officer's personal protection weapon.
The policeman, identified only as Officer A, had called at the garage to buy fuel on his way to start a nightshift. Giving evidence from behind a screen Officer A said he had no alternative but to shoot because he felt his life was in immediate danger.
He said: "I felt he was going to stab me. He was only two metres from me. He knew what was going to happen. I felt my only option was to shoot."
An investigation by the Police Ombudsman found no guidelines had been breached and the Public Prosecution Service determined there was no case to answer.
Graphic CCTV footage of the moments leading up to Mr Ringland's death were shown to the jury four times during the two-day inquest. Members of his family watched the DVD recording which showed Mr Ringland flash a knife at a shop assistant before helping himself to handfuls of cash.
Solicitor Denis Moloney said the Ringland family hoped their son's death would serve as a deterrent to other criminals.
"They hope that the wider community will take on board that knife culture kills," Mr Moloney said. "They hope no one else goes through the grief that they have endured over the past two years."