March 8 2014 Latest news:
by Stephen Moore
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The judge presiding over Mark Duggan’s inquest today told jurors they must resolve a “stark problem” of contradictory evidence about how the gun he was supposedly clutching when he was shot came to be found under bushes 20ft away.
The original testimony of four police officers, including a senior officer in the operation that ended in the 29-year-old’s death, contradicts video evidence taken by an eyewitness and later obtained by the BBC.
Judge Keith Cutler, coroner for the inquest, made a point of highlighting the clash during his second day of summing up the 12-week hearing at the Royal Courts of Jusice today.
He said that from his evidence, officer V59 - a Sergeant who was operational firearms commander and tactical advisor in the operation - appeared to be “directing officers to go and secure a gun which hadn’t yet been found”.
In statements made in the aftermath of the shooting, V59 said he had asked another officer, R31, to look for the gun.
Shortly after, three armed PCs arrived and all of them, as well as V59, later gave statements saying the senior officer told them where the gun had been found and for them to secure it.
But Witness B’s video footage clearly shows the gun being found after the three PCs first speak to V59.
“Without that BBC footage that would have been completely accepted and we would not be talking about it,” said Judge Cutler.
“Everyone might have felt quite secure about that account if it had’t been for Witness B.
“It is not a question of anybody being mistaken. It is something which is a direct contradiction here; there is that stark problem.”
The jurors were shown Witness B’s video in which R31 finds the gun in bushes seconds after V59 first briefs the three PCs.
R31 told the inquest he found the gun after making an assumption about where it could be, and because the immediate area around Mr Duggan would probably already have been searched.
In a further inconsistency, a second officer, Z51, also claimed to have found the gun.
Judge Cutler said: “There’s a lot of people finding the gun but not telling anybody else about it.”
When V59 was recalled to account for the contradiction last week, he said he had in fact told the officers to seal off the grassy area as he “was concerned about the scene becoming contaminated”. He added: “I don’t know exactly what happened, there were a number of conversations and it was quite a confused scene, lots of things happening at the same time.”
Judge Cutler today also reminded jurors that while tests showed it was possible to throw the gun into the bushes from where Mr Duggan was shot, one medical expert had told them he would have needed “great willpower” to do so having just been shot in that arm, and that the theory didn’t really tie in with witnesses’ accounts.
The jurors briefly retired to consider their conclusion this afternoon, and will resume on Friday morning.
They have been told they must be unanimous in returning one of three conclusions: lawful killing, unlawful killing, or an open conclusion.