Back in July, Greater Manchester Police pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act after the ‘unlawful’ shooting of 32-year old PC Ian Terry during an training exercise in 2008. An inquest in 2010 confirmed that he was killed unlawfully and that the force fined £166,666 plus £90,000 court costs.
This week, the officer who fired the shot was informed he would keep his job but has been given a reprimand, despite being found guilty of gross misconduct at an internal disciplinary hearing of GMP. Another officer has been forced to resign and has been fined £2,000. A third officer was acquitted of another charge under the same act.
Whilst this is seen as some form of compensation, it hardly contributes to the grief of Terry’s family. In fact the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), much to the anger of PC Terry’s family, decided that no one should face criminal charges.
Ralli’s Partner James Reilly represented the family at the inquest of several weeks’ duration and successfully pursued GMP for a fatal accidents case. We also kept a liaison role with the family whilst the CPS considered prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter for a second time. The Health and Sefety Executive (HSE) decided to prosecute two of the training officers “Eric” and “Francis” as well as the GMP. They then accepted guilt and were fined a substantial sum.
“Eric” was found ‘not guilty’, despite having been criticised in the investigation and the inquest, he then retired so was not subject to an internal disciplinary hearing. ”Francis” was convicted, fined and therefore has been forced to resign, meanwhile “Chris” who was never charged by the CPS or HSE has been reprimanded which means he will still serve as a police officer, collect his pension and remains anonymous. The reprimand will be off his record after three years.
The family’s statement read: “It has taken an unprecedented six years for the officer who killed Ian to face any form of penalty for his actions but after hearing all the evidence, an independent internal discipline tribunal has found that this officer has not only breached several rules of conduct but his actions fell far below what is expected of a police officer.
We welcome the verdict but feel that this decision, together with the unlawful killing verdict reached by a jury at the coroner’s inquest in 2010, confirms our opinion that the officer known as Chris should not have been allowed by the CPS to escape facing charges in a criminal trial.
The tribunal have considered the circumstances of this case carefully and administered what they believe to be appropriate sanctions but the important result of this hearing is that we finally feel the officers responsible have been shown indisputably that they are undeniably to blame for Ian’s death and we want them to know that we believe if they’d had the courage to face the consequences of their actions in 2008 and take responsibility for their actions, they could have saved our family six years of unnecessary pain and difficulty.’
Police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd said: ”I would once again pass on my sympathies to Ian Terry’s family, friends and colleagues.
I welcome the outcome of this disciplinary hearing, but again question why the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner has taken six years to get to this stage. All this has done is prolong the heartbreak for Ian’s family. It is insulting and it is unacceptable.
The IPCC needs to change the way it goes about its business, or else the Government needs to step in and put in place a regime which is fit for purpose.”
IPCC commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: “The IPCC investigation was concluded prior to the inquest into PC Terry’s death in 2010 and the fact it has taken more than four years to reach this conclusion must have compounded the distress of PC Terry’s family.
This training exercise was poorly planned and high risk. Everyone involved will have to live with the fact that a popular and well-respected officer lost his life as a result of the mistakes made on that day.”
Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable who joined GMP after the incident, said: “It is six years since Ian died, six years that Ian’s family has had to wait for a conclusion to what has been a complicated and frustrating series of legal and multiple investigative processes which have caused additional delay in bringing this to a conclusion.
This hearing was the final stage in a very long process and I hope that this decision provides Ian’s family with some form of closure and that they can all now begin to move forward.
I would like to express my admiration for the dignity and resolve shown by Ian’s family over the many years it has taken for the case to get to this point.
Ian Terry was a complete professional, highly regarded by all his colleagues, who served the public of Greater Manchester with huge commitment and expertise.”
PC Terry, from Burnley, was shot as the firearms unit practised in a disused factory in Newton Heath, Manchester on June 9, 2008. He was not wearing body armour, when he was hit from a distance of about 12 inches by a blank round of specialist ammunition called round irritant personnel, which is not designed to kill but can be deadly at close range.
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