Victim's widow confronts prime suspect at inquest

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THE PRIME suspect for the murder of a policeman sparked outrage at a double inquest yesterday when he denied having anything to do with the killing, or with that of a drug dealer shot in the same incident.

Richard Watts, who is serving a 10-year sentence for firearms offences, denied being part of a gang who, in October 1993, shot the small-time drug dealer William Danso, 31, before killing Patrick Dunne, a community policeman, with a single shot.

The inquest heard that Danso may have been killed for showing "disrespect" to a member of the gang during a row at a mobile-phone shop where Danso worked as a security guard.

At a highly charged hearing at Southwark Crown Court, south London, Danso's widow, Deborah, shouted at Watts that he would "rot in hell". She then left the courtroom, in tears.

Wattsdenied having anything to do with the shootings in Clapham, south London. Asked by the coroner, Selena Lynch, if he had shot the two men, he replied: "No way, no way."

Watts was at one stage arrested and charged, along with two other men, Gary Nelson and Anthony Francis, with the murder of PC Dunne. But charges were dropped because of "insufficient evidence".

The inquest came as police issued a fresh plea for help in solving the murders.

PC Dunne, 44, had been called to a house to sort out a domestic dispute. He heard the gunshots across the road, and when he went to investigate, was shot in the chest.

The inquest heard that the gang of three men left the scene of the shootings laughing and firing bullets into the air.

During the huge police hunt for the killers, officers were given an anonymous tip-off and found the two guns used in the killings buried in Wandsworth cemetery, south London, nearly a year after the crimes. A cartridge case from one of the guns was also found by police at Watts's home.

The guns were also linked to the three men who were charged in connection with the murder of PC Dunne, through the fingerprint of one of the men's mothers on the black bag in which the guns were wrapped.

Shirley Wright, the mother of Gary Nelson, claimed at yesterday's inquest that police collected the bag from her home and planted it with the guns.

The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for Danso and PC Dunne.