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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Family's anger at shot man verdict
Harry Stanley
Harry Stanley was unarmed when he was shot
The family of a man shot dead by police who thought a table leg he was carrying was a sawn-off shotgun say they have been denied justice.

On Friday an inquest jury returned an open verdict on the death of Harry Stanley, 46,of Warneford Street, Hackney, east London, originally from Glasgow.

He was carrying a coffee table leg wrapped up in a plastic bag when he was killed in September 1999.

His widow, Irene Stanley, said she intended to sue the Metropolitan Police, make a formal complaint about the coroner and launch a judicial review of the inquest into her husband's death.

'Not right'

Mr Stanley was shot twice by firearms officers Inspector Neil Sharman and Pc Kevin Fagan as he walked home from the Alexandra pub.

The officers approached Mr Stanley after a fellow drinker in the pub told them he had seen an "Irishman" leaving a pub with a sawn-off shotgun in a blue plastic bag.

Irene Stanley
Irene Stanley is seeking a judicial review

The coroner of St Pancras Coroner's Court in London, Dr Stephen Chan, instructed the jury not to consider a verdict of unlawful killing.

The jury had only two options to consider - lawful killing or an open verdict.

Mrs Stanley said: "I didn't get justice today. I am disgusted with the system."

"The jury were not allowed to bring a verdict of unlawful killing even if they wanted to.

"It's not right. There has been no police officer charged with the mistakes they made.

'Twist of fate'

Mrs Stanley's solicitor, Nogah Ofer, said: "We are launching a judicial review in the High Court on the basis that the coroner made a blatant error of law.

"The most important piece of evidence were the forensic hard facts and the coroner didn't even mention them.

"I've never seen a coroner leave out a most important piece of evidence before."

Dr Chan said Mr Stanley's death had come about by "a twist of fate" and a series of coincidences leading up to the shooting.

He said: "The shape of a table leg in a plastic bag had been demonstrated to be 'uncannily indistinguishable' from that of a sawn-off shotgun."

Officers 'vindicated'

Outside court, Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "The events of the night in question were a tragic incident, first and foremost for the loved ones of Harry Stanley.

"It's also been a tragedy for the officers involved and in the evidence we heard this week quite clearly they were stunned and shocked immediately after the event took place.

"The events have been extensively and exhaustively investigated.

"It's been reviewed on two occasions at the highest level by Treasury Counsel on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service.

"Having heard the eye-witness accounts of the independent witnesses, quite clearly the officers' actions have been vindicated."

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Relatives shouted in anger and frustration as they stormed out of court"
Irene Stanley
"It's a hard struggle for justice, but I'm going to carry on fighting"

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20 Jun 02 | England
19 Jun 02 | England
17 Jun 02 | England
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