Victory for policeman over 'table leg' shooting

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The Independent Online

A police marksman who shot dead a man carrying a table leg which was mistaken for a gun won his High Court bid today to overturn an inquest verdict of "unlawful killing".

A police marksman who shot dead a man carrying a table leg which was mistaken for a gun won his High Court bid today to overturn an inquest verdict of "unlawful killing".

A judge ruled there was "insufficient evidence" to support such a verdict.

But Mr Justice Leveson added: "Whether or not a misunderstanding on the part of the officers may be justifiable, they did in fact misunderstand Mr Stanley's reaction and, as a result, he lost his life.

"This is not a situation which can be allowed to be repeated."

Harry Stanley, 46, a painter and decorator of Hackney, east London, was shot in the head and hand on September 22 1999.

Two Metropolitan Police officers fired the shots after wrongly being informed that Mr Stanley had a sawn–off shotgun.

Police inspector Neil Sharman, now a chief inspector, shot Mr Stanley in the head with a pistol, killing him instantly.

PC Kevin Fagan also opened fire, wounding Mr Stanley in the left hand as he walked home from the Alexandra pub in Hackney.

The father of three, who was originally from Lanarkshire, Scotland, was carrying a blue plastic bag with a coffee table leg inside, which had just been repaired by his brother Peter.