Mark Duggan 'given gun just 15 minutes before death'


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The Independent Online

A handgun was passed to Mark Duggan just 15 minutes before he was shot dead by armed police, sparking the riots that blighted the country last August, a court heard today.

Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, 30, is accused of "selling or transferring a prohibited firearm" to Mr Duggan between July 28 and August 5, 2011.

A jury at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court today heard that just 12-15 minutes after Hutchinson-Foster allegedly supplied the gun to Mr Duggan, the 29-year-old was shot dead by police.

The fatal shooting in Tottenham, north London, on August 4, 2011, sparked disorder across the capital which spread to other cities.

Hutchinson-Foster, of no fixed abode, denies passing the BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun to Mr Duggan, contrary to the Firearms Act 1968.

Opening the case today, prosecutor Edward Brown QC told the court: "On August 4 last year a handgun was recovered in Ferry Lane in Tottenham, north London.

"It had been in the possession of a man named Mark Duggan. The gun was loaded - it had a bullet in its magazine.

"The evidence demonstrates that that gun at that scene had been passed to Mark Duggan by this defendant, Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, shortly before the minicab in which Mark Dugganwas travelling was stopped by police in Ferry Lane in Tottenham Hale.

"There in Ferry Lane Mark Duggan was shot and fatally injured by the police as a result of his possession of that gun and what he was thought to be about to do with it.

"The firearm was a BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun. It had been modified so that it would fire 9mm bullets - a lethal firearm as you will hear.

"The charge this defendant faces is the supply or transfer of that gun to Mark Duggan."

Mr Brown told the jurors they would hear evidence from a number of sources, adding: "That evidence demonstrates that this defendant Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, some 12-15 minutes before Mark Duggan was stopped, supplied that gun to him, Mark Duggan having travelled to the defendant to collect it as had been arranged."

Mr Brown said Mr Duggan, apparently an associate of the defendant, travelled via minicab to the area where a girlfriend of Hutchinson-Foster lived so he could collect the gun, which was hidden in a shoebox.

He said phone evidence showed they were in touch as Mr Duggan took the cab from Hoxton to Leyton, and they were in contact en route and that after the handover, Mr Duggan carried on towards Tottenham Hale with the gun, taking it out at some point during the journey.

"It was not long into this second part of his journey that the minicab with Mark Duggan inside was stopped by police," Mr Brown said. The court heard the gun was found nearby.

He said the jury would hear evidence about the minicab journey, and how Mr Duggan collected the gun hidden in the shoebox by Hutchinson-Foster.

He also said evidence will also show fingerprints on the box matched the defendant, Mr Duggan, and a woman at whose address Hutchinson-Foster was when he handed over the gun; and that DNA recovered from the scene in Tottenham connects the defendant to the gun.

The jury will also hear mobile phone evidence, evidence from the minicab driver who saw the handover, and evidence from an earlier incident just six days before, when Hutchinson-Foster was seen to use the same gun to threaten and beat another man.

Mr Brown said the defendant lied to police about his possession of the gun, and about his links to Mr Duggan.

"He provided a dishonest explanation as he hoped it would avoid his true responsibilities, say the Crown, in respect of the gun and its supply by him to Mark Duggan," he said.

The prosecutor told the jury: "The death of Mr Duggan on August 4 last year has been regarded as the event that sparked the riots in north London, which then spread across London and then to other cities and which attracted widespread publicity in the United Kingdom and abroad.

"Let me say immediately there is one task in this trial that is not necessary for you the jury to confront - that is to decide one way or the other the rights and wrongs of the shooting of Mr Duggan.

"That is a task properly left to an inquest and the jury at that inquest who will examine this issue and likely far wider issues than those that you will be concerned with.

"That inquest is to take place before a jury early next year and that jury will of course hear the evidence that will focus on those issues. You have a different task.

"They were tragic events in Ferry Lane, on any account. But the issue for you, the jury, in this case is who supplied the gun to Mark Duggan - put another way, the issue for you to decide is whether it is shown by the Crown, on the evidence, to have been this defendant Kevin Hutchinson-Foster who supplied that gun to Mark Duggan."

Six days before Mr Duggan's death, on July 29 last year, the court heard, a man later found to be Hutchinson-Foster had an argument with a barber called Peter Osadebay at the Lagoon Salon on Kingsland Road, Dalston, east London.

The defendant left and returned just over an hour later holding a gun wrapped in something, the jury heard. A fight ensued during which Hutchinson-Foster beat the barber with the gun, and both men were left with injuries.

The court heard that forensic scientists examining the gun found at Ferry Lane discovered traces of Mr Osadebay's blood on it, as well as Hutchinson-Foster's DNA.

Mr Brown said the evidence showed the gun the defendant used to attack the barber was the gun found at Ferry Lane.

The prosecutor said mobile phone evidence showed a connection between the defendant and Mr Duggan.

But he said Hutchinson-Foster tried to distance himself from the gun that led to Mr Duggan's death.

After his arrest he claimed that at the end of July - before the incident in the salon - he was attacked by 10 men, including Mr Duggan, and was hit on the head with a gun.

The crown alleges that was an effort to provide an explanation for his connection to the weapon.

Of the situation on August 4, Mr Brown said police were carrying out a surveillance operation on Mr Duggan, who was travelling in the back of a minicab.

"It was at 6.12pm that the minicab was stopped by the police."

He said that was minutes after Mr Duggan used directions from Hutchinson-Foster to meet him and collect the shoe box with the gun.

After the stop by police and the fatal shooting of Mr Duggan, the weapon was found on a grass bank just off Ferry Lane, Mr Brown said.

"It was in a black sock. The toe end of the sock was ripped which exposed the barrel of the gun and the heel of the sock was also open to expose the cocking lever at the back of the gun.

"The gun was later examined by a ballistics expert and found to be a BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun that had been modified to take live 9mm bullets and was capable of firing them. The gun had such a bullet in the magazine inside the handle."

He said scientific evidence would show the gun was the weapon used by Hutchinson-Foster at the barbers on July 29, and then supplied to Mr Duggan on August 4.

The defendant's blood was found on the gun as well as Mr Osadebay's, the court heard.

Mr Brown said the combination of the science painted a clear picture that "put that gun at Ferry Lane on August 4 at the defendant's door".

The court heard both Hutchinson-Foster's fingerprints and those of Mr Duggan were found on the shoebox, as well as those of Desire Cox - a girlfriend of the defendant at the time.

Mr Brown said the scientists had shown "beyond any sensible doubt" that the gun was used by Hutchinson-Foster on July 29, kept by him and put into a shoe box that belonged to his girlfriend, then given to Mr Duggan in the box when the minicab stopped near Ms Cox's address in Burchell Road, Leyton, east London.

The prosecutor said Hutchinson-Foster had also tried to distance himself from the shoe box, saying he had never given any presents to any of his girlfriends, or to Mr Duggan.