Police killing of siege farmer ruled lawful

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A verdict of lawful killing was returned yesterday on a farmer shot dead by police in a siege at his remote country house.

Ian Fitzgerald Hay, 39, a bachelor, died from a shot to the head on the front lawn of Crabdon Manor, near Moreleigh, Devon, on 13 October last year. Seconds earlier he had fired a pistol three times at a police dog, which later died, the nine-day inques

t in Plymouth heard.

The fatal shot was fired by Constable John Gingell, who said he saw an "evil glint" in the farmer's eye after he shot the police dog.The officer told the Police Complaints Authority inquiry team: "There was no doubt in my mind that if I did not stop him he was going to shoot us."

Two other members of the firearms team fired simultaneously at the farmer, who was wearing body armour, hitting him in the groin and back. But it was PC Gingell's shot, from a semi-automatic rifle, that killed him.

Chief Inspector Alan McArthur, who led the firearms team, told the inquest he saw Mr Fitzgerald Hay shoot the dog three times, then raise his gun arm in the general direction of PC Gingell and another officer.

Earlier in the day the farmer fired live rounds at a neighbour's farm and at his local pub, before returning to his 140-acre farm.

A neighbour told the inquest that Mr Fitzgerald Hay had a great hatred of the police and had said that if he had to go it would be in a blaze of glory.

He was under great stress from financial pressure, after the death of the manor's owner, his brother Jamie, a Lloyd's name who left big liabilities that threatened the future of the farm. David Bishop, the coroner. said it was not surprising that the magnitude of a financial misfortune not of his own making had an impact on his behaviour.

Mr Fitzgerald Hay's mother, Mary, 80, drove from the house shortly before the shooting. She told the inquest that if the police had allowed her to return she could have "talked him out of it".

The Crown Prosecution Service announced in June that no officer would be prosecuted for the shooting. But the question of internal discipline by the police still had to be decided. Mr Fitzgerald Hay was the first person to be shot dead by the police in the force region.