A suspected gunman was free to shoot a man in the face after apparent police failings meant that he was not identified as the owner of a sawn-off shotgun seized in a police operation 17 months earlier, it has emerged.
The weapon was found in Lambeth, south London, in May 2012 but evidence was only passed to forensic teams in November 2013 – a month after the shooting that left the 17-year-old victim with what Scotland Yard described as “life-changing” injuries.
The alleged gunman was arrested shortly after the attack on 11 October last year and charged four days later with possessing firearms and crack cocaine after a search at his home in Sutton.
He was later charged with the shooting in January after forensic teams linked him to the earlier shotgun seizure.
The police watchdog said that a detective constable was under investigation for gross misconduct over the 18-month delay. He has been placed on restricted duties.
He will be interviewed as investigators try to establish the cause of the delay. It will also consider “what impact the officer’s actions may have had on any past or present criminal investigations, victims or their families”, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said in a statement.
“Gun crime has a devastating effect on communities and this investigation raises serious concerns about the way a Metropolitan Police officer handled forensic evidence following a firearms incident in 2012,” said Jennifer Izekor of the IPCC.
“We will be rigorous in challenging how this evidence relating to a criminal firearms investigation was handled and seek to uncover whether other victims of crime may have been impacted upon as a result.”
An 18-year-old from Sutton will appear in court on Friday charged with attempted murder.