Police trainer 'shot man with a Magnum .44'

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The Independent Online

An improperly trained police firearms instructor shot and nearly killed a former champion rifle marksman during a gun-awareness training exercise, a court heard yesterday.

PC David Micklethwaite, 52, who has admitted breaching health and safety rules, mistakenly loaded a Magnum .44 revolver with a live round he had plucked from an old Quality Street tin. He then pulled the trigger while pointing it at a civilian colleague on one of his classroom courses.

London's Southwark Crown Court heard how the bullet hit phone operator Keith Tilbury, 51, at Thames Valley police headquarters in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, causing serious injuries, including muscle loss in his torso.

The incident, on May 30, 2007, happened against a background of failings over following proper procedure and ensuring that Micklethwaite had been adequately trained.

The court heard that, although expertly prepared and audited cases of demonstration ammunition should have been used by instructors, some made do with makeshift containers. Furthermore, said Richard Matthews, prosecuting, Micklethwaite had actually failed a Met Police firearms instruction course.

But Thames Valley police considered it was just a question of a difference in approach the two forces had concerning handling and safety drills.