Police shooting of armed robber was lawful killing
A MAN shot three times by undercover police during an armed raid was lawfully killed, an inquest jury has decided.
The shooting – close to the Nationwide building society in New Romney on October 31, 2006 – lasted only .089 seconds but resulted in two weeks of evidence, more than two hours of summing up by coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox and three hours of deliberation by the jury at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court.
The jury’s decision was that Robert Haines, 41, of Canterbury Road, Challock, was lawfully killed as “he fled armed police following an armed robbery. That he resisted arrest and dispatched a sawn-off shotgun and shots were returned by armed police.”
The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.
The court was told of the Metropolitan Police operation – in partnership with Kent Police – to catch the gang responsible for a series of armed raids made during ATM deliveries at building societies in south-east London and Kent.
Evidence was taken from the officers involved, including the officer who fired the fatal shots – known only as Echo 19 and who testified from behind a screen to preserve his anonymity.
Haines’s widow Gillian was among those in court to hear that the officers – surveillance teams and CO19 firearms specialists – had been lying in wait, positioned at the front of the Nationwide and towards the rear, close to an alleyway which led to a car park where Haines’s colleague Dean Jenkins was waiting in a getaway vehicle.
High intensity light
According to evidence from officers, Haines, dressed in black and carrying a shotgun, grabbed the security guard while making his fourth delivery to the building society at about 7.50pm, took him inside, before fleeing the scene with £105,000 in cash by running up the adjacent alleyway.
Officers ran after him. It was at the entrance to the car park, from the alleyway, that the shooting occurred.
Echo 19, armed with a G36 carbine fitted with high intensity light, was one of four armed officers to pursue Haines.
Referring to Echo 19’s initial confrontation with Haines, Dr Wilcox said: “At this point, he did not feel that his life was under threat because the barrel (of Haines’ gun) was pointing up. “He shouted, ‘Armed police!’ “The figure flinched.” Dr Wilcox went on to the explain that, according to Echo 19, Haines “pivoted with amazing speed...brought down the gun and Echo 19 saw a flash...and heard a loud bang.
“Echo 19 stated at this point he thought Haines was trying to kill him or his friends.
“In response, he fired two shots rapidly, aiming for the central mass of Haines’s body.”
She added: “Haines did not seem to react after the two shots and Echo 19 was worried he had missed.
“He was still facing towards him and fired a third shot to neutralise the threat.”
Dr Wilcox reported that Echo 19 later told a colleague, codenamed Foxtrot 3: “I shot him. He had a gun. He fired at me, I shot him.”
Fellow officers and security guards agreed that warning shouts were followed by shots.
A Tazer stun gun was also used on Haines following the shooting as officers feared that he might still pose a threat, though the post mortem examination revealed that the Tazer’s barbs did not pierce his body.
Officers administered first aid to Haines and he was taken to Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital by ambulance crew where he later died.
Dr Wilcox noted that the shotgun was found about 15ft to 20ft from Haines.
She said: “It would seem that no witnesses have been able to help the court at all...with how the shotgun came to be so far away from Haines’s body.”