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John Beggs QC and Matthew Holdcroft represented the Kent Police in a police shooting inquest where the jury determined there had been a lawful killing

3rd December 2020

William Smith was wanted on suspicion of the murder of businessman Roy Blackman and other serious violent offences. He had been released on bail and had cut off his security tag. He had been on the run from police for almost 14 days and was believed to be in possession of at least three firearms (including a handgun) and hundreds of shotgun cartridges.

On 1 May 2016, as the result of an intelligence lead operation, police located him in an orchard in Goudhurst, near Tunbridge Wells.

William Smith ran and hid from the police in a shed. The officers identified themselves but he refused to make himself known. The door to the shed was opened and the lead officer saw a shotgun. The police retreated but William Smith pointed the shotgun at the police officers. Both officers fired and he was shot three times to the head and chest.

The jury concluded that, “armed police officers honestly believed that William Smith pointed a firearm at them. They believed that they needed to use force against him to defend themselves. It was reasonable and proportionate, due to the fact that he pointed a firearm at them, to use lethal force to shoot him.” The jury determined that it had been a lawful killing.

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