Siege man with replica gun was lawfully shot

POLICE MARKSMEN who shot dead a man brandishing an imitation gun acted lawfully, a jury decided yesterday.

The verdict, at the end of a two- month inquest and after almost two days of deliberations, absolved the police of blame.

Ian Bennett, 34, was hit by three bullets at the end of a 90-minute siege at his flat in Rastrick, West Yorkshire, on New Year's Day. Police officers told the inquest in Bradford that they were convinced the gun was real.

But after the verdict, Mr Bennett's family said in a statement read by Michael Hughes, their solicitor: 'The only comfort which we can derive from the inquest is the fervent hope that the glare of publicity which has surrounded the death of Ian and the actions of the police will lead to an urgent and comprehensive review of police firearms training.

'In our view this tragedy could have been avoided if the police operation had been properly conducted.'

Minutes before Mr Bennett was shot, his parents had arrived at the scene and asked to speak to him, the inquest heard. They told officers that the firearms were replicas, but were not given permission to approach their son.

'We had only been there for 15 or 20 minutes and he was dead,' Jean Bennett, Mr Bennett's mother told BBC Radio 4 after the verdict.

His father, Eric Bennett, had told the inquest that when he arrived on the scene he begged that his wife be allowed to talk to their son - but this information was never passed on to senior officers.

The inquest heard that the siege began when Mr Bennett had a violent argument with a taxi driver after an all-day drinking session. Police arrived to find Mr Bennett brandishing an antique flintlock rifle and later discovered several other imitation guns in his flat.

However, Constable Karl Floyd, who fired the fatal shots, rejected claims that the firearms team had panicked and made crucial errors.

He told the inquest that Mr Bennett had leaned out of a window with 'what I took straight away to be a real shotgun. He pushed it out, brought it up into his shoulder and was aiming up the street.'

He had twice told Mr Bennett to put the weapon down, but 'he leaned further out of the window and aimed at me and PC Smith. I engaged him and started firing shots in order to stop him shooting PC Smith and myself. I did not want to shoot him.'

After the inquest, Bill Hughes, West Yorkshire's Assistant Chief Constable, said: 'There has been much emphasis placed on the fact that he possessed only replica firearms. Police officers who face danger, whether real or perceived, are not blessed with hindsight.' Some local people had told officers that the guns were real, although others said they were fake.

Mr Hughes defended the decision not to allow Mr Bennett's parents to talk to him. Drawing a parallel with the Hungerford massacre, he said: 'One of the first people Michael Ryan shot was his own mother.'

The jurors, who heard evidence from more than 80 witnesses, retired on Friday lunchtime. PC Floyd's solicitor said the verdict had come as a relief.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness