Ruling due on Duggan verdict appeal

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The mother of Mark Duggan, whose death sparked nationwide riots after he was shot by a police marksman, learns today whether she has won a High Court bid to overturn a finding that her son was “lawfully killed”.

Pamela Duggan, and other family members and supporters, reacted with shock and anger after the inquest jury returned their majority verdict in January on 29-year-old Mr Duggan.

Michael Mansfield QC, appearing for the family, asked three judges at a hearing in July to declare that coroner Judge Keith Cutler misdirected the jury and, in doing so, violated human rights laws.

Mr Mansfield told a packed court the “nutshell” of his case was in the question: “How is it a man who is manifestly unarmed can be lawfully shot?”

The inquest jury found Mr Duggan was lawfully killed by a police marksman in August 2011 in Tottenham, north London, despite being unarmed.

An officer can only legally open fire if he honestly believes there is an imminent risk to his own life or to others.

The Duggan case raises complex issues of law, including the criminal law of self defence. It includes questions over what the marksman “may” have believed or “probably” believed, even if mistakenly, about the risk posed by Mr Duggan.

Armed police officers intercepted the minicab Mr Duggan was in on the basis of intelligence that he was part of a gang and had collected a gun. He was shot twice by an officer known as V53. One of the hits was fatal.

V53 gave as the reason for opening fire that Mr Duggan had a “gun-shaped” item contained in a sock in his hand and that he believed he was presenting a threat.

Lawyers for the coroner say a gun, contained in a sock, was found on grass in the vicinity of Mr Duggan’s body, and there was “a significant issue” about how it got there.

Mr Mansfield said the 10-strong inquest jury concluded by an 8-2 majority that they were sure that Mr Duggan did not have a gun in his hand when he was fatally shot – “however eight of the jurors also decided that Mr Duggan’s death was lawful killing”. Two jurors came to an open conclusion.

Mr Mansfield said the unlawful killing verdict was the result of flawed directions from the coroner.

He said the definition of lawful killing had been “rolled up with unlawful killing”, with the result that elements of what amounted to “lawful killing” were not properly delineated for the jury, leaving it open to them wrongly to bring in the lawful killing verdict.

Lawyers for the coroner argue there was no error in his summing up to the jury.

Leslie Thomas QC, for the family, argued it should be replaced with an open verdict – or a fresh inquest held.

The ruling at London’s High Court is being handed down by Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, who heard the case with Mr Justice Burnett and Judge Peter Thornton QC.

At the same time as the High Court judges deliver their verdict, lawyers for Mrs Duggan will also be seeking a separate judicial review over the legality of guidance intended to stop police officers conferring before giving statements. The action relates to a policy adopted by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

Judges will also consider a linked case being brought by the family of Ryszard Delezuch, who died after being detained by Leicestershire Police officers.

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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