Durham Police Shooting Was Lawful

A Durham man who fired crossbow bolts at police was lawfully killed by a firearms officer who shot him, an inquest jury has found.

Keith Richards, 47, was hit by a round from a sniper rifle after he angrily remonstrated with officers from the bedroom window of his rented home in Cheapside, Shildon, County Durham, in May 2009.

The drunk father-of-two had indiscriminately fired crossbow bolts and called for police to shoot him, an inquest at Newton Aycliffe heard.

Almost three weeks after the hearing began, the jury returned a verdict of lawful killing.

The jury foreman said in court that it was likely Mr Richards had intended to be shot by armed police, had said as much in a series of 999 calls and was standing at his bedroom window in a ``threatening manner'' with the crossbow.

Mr Richards, who lived apart from his wife, had handed back their home to the bank before it was repossessed. He was distressed at recently being arrested for drink-driving and had lost his window-fitting business after his tools were stolen.

Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart paid tribute to the firearms officers on duty that night, who were referred to in court only as C, D and E, saying: ``They have been extremely professional throughout.

``I saw them four hours after the fatal shooting and from then until now they have been a great example. They are good guys, they have been under a lot of pressure and they have conducted themselves very well.''

Mr Stoddart expressed his condolences to the Richards family, adding that the dead man's behaviour that night was out of character.