Jury finds Metropolitan Police firearms operation which resulted in Dean Joseph’s death to have been “inadequate”

Monday 17 August 2015

Leslie Thomas QC and Una Morris represented the maternal side of the family in the inquest into Dean Joseph’s death. Mr Joseph was emotionally and mentally distressed when he was shot and killed by PC Stuart Brown, a Metropolitan Police firearms officer, on 5 September 2014.

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During the late evening and the early hours of 4 and 5 September 2014, armed officers were called to an address at Shepperton Road, Islington, where Dean Joseph had entered his ex-partner’s home and was holding her against her will.

PC Philip Clark, an unarmed response officer, was one of the first on the scene just after 23:15 on 4 September 2014. PC Clark took on the role of negotiator. Despite PC Clark not having been specially trained in hostage negotiation, PC Clark was left to negotiate for a period of over an hour and a half, whilst specialist negotiators made their way to the scene.

The jury found, “There was no guidance from trained police negotiators either on site or via telecommunications when there was enough time to do so”. No advice was sought or received from the hostage negotiator coordinator, Inspector Helen Cryer, as she made her way to the scene of the incident.

The jury heard evidence that there was a delay in Inspector Cryer and trained hostage negotiators being briefed by the firearms commanders once they had arrived on the scene.

The jury also found that “communication and consideration regarding whether the firearms operation was overt or covert was inadequate”.

The jury heard evidence from firearms commanders and senior officers, Chief Inspector Ross McKibbin, Superintendent Simon Dobinson, Inspector Andrew Stacey, Inspector Paul Scully and Sergeant Philip Lutz, who intended that the incident should be an overt firearms operation and gave instructions to that effect, whilst the more junior firearms officers on the ground, PC Brendan Barrow, PC Lee Robinson and the shooter, PC Brown, thought that they should remain covert. This resulted in Mr Joseph never being made aware that armed officers were on the scene, although the tactical plan that the operation should be overt never changed.

Furthermore, the jury found that “No armed challenge was given”, meaning that Mr Joseph was never warned of the risks he faced from armed officers.

The jury concluded that these factors “possibly affected the outcome of the incident”.

By the time PC Brown fired two shots, one of which was the fatal shot, it was around 00:50 or 00:55. The jury returned a lawful killing conclusion. Lawful killing was the only short form conclusion that was left to the jury by HM Senior Coroner Mary Hassell.

Back in March 2015, the Senior Coroner ruled that the firearms officers should not be granted anonymity at the inquest and should not be screened during the giving of their evidence. Due to conferring between the firearms officers when their detailed accounts of the incidents were made on 8 September 2014, and the impact that this would have on public confidence, on the first day of the full inquest, the Senior Coroner ruled that the officers should be excluded from court until they had given evidence themselves.

Following the jury delivering their critical narrative, the Senior Coroner produced a preventing future deaths report to the Metropolitan Police Service on a number of issues identified by the jury and throughout the course of the inquest.

Leslie Thomas QC and Una Morris were instructed by Lochlinn Parker and Sarah Ricca at Deighton Pierce Glynn. Leslie and Una are members of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests Team.

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