Police marksman tells Dean Joseph inquest ‘I had to fire fatal shots, he was about to kill her’
- Credit: PA
A police firearms officer has told of the moment he fired two shots to “save the life” of a terrified woman who was being held hostage by her ex-boyfriend at knife-point during a tense siege.
PC Stuart Brown had a G36 rifle aimed at knifeman Dean Joseph for 30 minutes before he took the decision to shoot as the hostage siege unfolded at a Georgian terrace in Shepperton Road, Islington, on September 5 last year.
Forty-year-old Mr Joseph had wedged his ex-partner Julie Moyses into the corner of her bedroom and was holding a seven-inch knife to his own throat before he suddenly thrust towards her in the final moments before he was shot, PC Brown told an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Tuesday.
“I knew I needed to prevent her death and I knew the only way I could do that at that point in time was to fire a shot,” he said. “I quickly reassessed through the straight point aim and squeezed the trigger.”
Mr Joseph had smashed his way in through the bedroom window of his ex-girlfriend’s basement flat late on the evening of September 4 and for the next two hours Miss Moyses was subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of her ex-partner.
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At about 12.20am police marksman PC Brown was instructed to go to the front of the flat to provide firearms cover.
He went “quickly and quietly” into position perching on an outside window sill next to Islington borough officer PC Philip Clark, who was trying to negotiate with Mr Joseph, the inquest heard.
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As soon as he was there PC Brown put his weapon “into the aim” and held it there for 30 minutes, he told the jury.
He could see Miss Moyses hunkered down on the floor in a corner being held by Mr Joseph with her arms to her chest “almost as if she was physically trying to recoil from him”, PC Brown said.
In the final seconds before he was shot Mr Joseph lunged at his ex-girlfriend, the police firearms officer told the jury.
“I don’t recall any words being said by either party,” said PC Brown. “I just recall all of a sudden the knife went from his neck. He thrust his arm out to Julie Moyses neck and the blade went in contact with her.
“He thrust it really hard into her neck. He pinned her physically in the corner with the blade of the knife on her neck and at that moment in time I believed he was going to kill her and that was what was happening in front of me, he was about to kill Miss Moyses.”
He continued: “I knew at that moment he was intending to kill her and I was the only person in that whole siege scenario who could do anything at that moment, and the only thing I could do to stop it was to fire a shot.”
Asked by the coroner “Do you think you panicked?” he replied firmly “Not at all, no.”
The firearms officer said he kept his finger outside the trigger guard “as would be normal operating procedure” so he could not “have a knee-jerk reaction and squeeze the trigger if something happened”.
Describing the moments after the first shot was fired, he said Mr Joseph moved back slightly.
“He still had the knife in his hand and was moving back towards Miss Moyses,” PC Brown told the jury.
“I still believed he intended to kill her. I thought everything that’s happened he’s still hell bent on doing it. I had no other option but to fire a second shot.”
As he fired both bullets he aimed at Mr Joseph’s central body torso, the jury heard.
Paramedics fought to save Mr Joseph’s life but he died in an ambulance at Old Street roundabout on route to hospital shortly afterwards.
Coroner Mary Hassell asked PC Brown if police marksmen “ever fire at somebody’s leg or arm to see if you can unarm, rather than a fatal shot to the chest”.
He replied: “No, we’d never do this because the chances of hitting a target like that are much smaller.”
Asked if he had thought of calling out to warn Mr Joseph he was there, PC Brown said: “No. The situation was so dangerous to Miss Moyses, it could have elevated the situation.”
He said he was “100 per cent sure” Mr Joseph would have killed Miss Moyses if he had not pulled the trigger.
“When you look back do you think you were right?” asked the coroner.
“Yes I believe I saved Miss Moyses’ life that day and if I hadn’t acted we’d all be sitting here for an inquest for Miss Moyses,” said PC Brown. “I had no other option than to prevent death.”
The inquest continues.