Sister's tears as Islington police killing ruled 'lawful' but siege tactics 'inadequate'
PUBLISHED: 12:57 12 August 2015 | UPDATED: 18:14 12 August 2015
The family of a man who was shot dead by police listened tearfully as an inquest jury today ruled the killing was lawful but police handling of the siege was 'inadequate'.
Unemployed gardener Dean Joseph was shot twice by firearms officer PC Stuart Brown following a 90 minute siege at a Georgian terrace in Islington in the early hours of September 5 last year.
The 40-year-old had taken his ex-girlfriend hostage at knife-point at her flat in Shepperton Road and the police marksman fired twice when Mr Joseph suddenly moved the blade to his ex-partner’s throat.
Following a three-week inquest hearing at St Pancras Coroner’s Court the jury today ruled that Mr Joseph, who lived at a hostel in Northumberland Park, Tottenham, before his death, had been killed lawfully.
But in a narrative verdict that criticised police handling of the operation, the jury said no armed warning was given to the 40-year-old before shots were fired and a trained police negotiator did not speak to him despite being at the scene.
The jury said this “possibly had an effect on the outcome of the incident”.
The verdict also said police “communication and consideration” about whether the firearms operation was overt, meaning Mr Joseph should have been told of the presence of armed officers, or covert, meaning this would not be revealed, was “inadequate”.
Dean’s sister Susan Joseph was in tears as the verdict was read out dabbing her eyes with a tissue and afterwards the family hugged their solicitor.
Outside court his sister said: “This is fantastic. I’m so happy. This is just the beginning of everything now.”
The inquest had heard:
■ There was police “confusion” over whether the firearms operation was “overt or covert”.
■ The QC representing Mr Joseph’s family said this pointed to a police “failure in command” and firearms officers had conferred about evidence “in an attempt to get stories straight”.
Armed police were called to Shepperton Road when Mr Joseph broke into the basement flat of his ex-girlfriend Julie Moyses and took her hostage at knife-point screaming “one of us will die tonight”.
Armed officer PC Brown was looking through the bedroom window with his G36 rifle pointed at Mr Joseph for 30 minutes before shots were fired.
Leslie Thomas QC, representing the maternal side of Mr Joseph’s family, said it was “fundamentally unfair” he had died without being given an “armed challenge or reality check” about the grave situation he faced.
The QC said there had been “ample time” for this to happen during the half hour when the police marksman had his G36 rifle pointed at Mr Joseph.
The firearms officer told the court he had not shouted a warning as Mr Joseph was “emotionally or mentally distressed” and this may have escalated the situation.
He said he thought the firearms operation was “covert” because that was the initial tactical advice.
But the QC told the court the gold, silver and bronze firearms commanders on the night had said “the plan was this was an overt operation” indicating a suspect should be told of the presence of armed police.
He asked PC Brown “Did nobody communicate that to you?” and said there had been “a failure in command”.
The QC said police had conferred about timings and which officers had Tasers as they wrote up their statements about the siege.
He suggested this was an “attempt to get stories straight” as “there was no need to shoot Mr Joseph because he could have been warned much earlier on” that armed police had a gun on him.
PC Brown denied this.
The jury today returned its verdict after deliberating for three days.
They unanimously agreed the killing was lawful but the narrative verdict was by a majority of eight to one.
It said: “Communication and consideration regarding whether the firearms operation was overt or covert was inadequate.
“An armed challenge was not given, this possibly had an effect on the outcome of the incident.
“There was no guidance from trained police negotiators, either onsite or by telecommunications, when there was sufficient time to do so. This possibly affected the outcome of the incident.”
Dean Joseph was the first person to be fatally shot by Met firearms officers since 29-year-old Mark Duggan was killed in Tottenham in August 2011.
Responding to the verdict, Commander David Musker said no police officer sets out at the start of an operation to take someone’s life.
He told Police Professional, the professional journal for the police force: “The Metropolitan Police Service asks, and indeed expects, our armed officers to make split second decisions based on the information available to them. They do so to protect the public, their colleagues and themselves. It is a role they volunteer for.
“On this occasion our firearms officer acted to protect a woman being held hostage. He feared her life was at risk as she was being held at knife point by Mr Joseph who was making serious threats against her, himself, and the police.
“Every day in London armed officers are called to tackle violent criminals or those who pose such a risk that unarmed officers are unable to deal with them.”