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Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

'Ambiguous' orders over Menezes

Jean Charles de Menezes
Jean Charles de Menezes was mistaken for a suicide bomber

Orders given by a police chief in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes were "ambiguous", former senior officer Brian Paddick has told an inquest.

He was referring to an order by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick to "arrest him [de Menezes], but whatever you do, don't let him get on the Tube".

Mr de Menezes was killed in 2005 after being mistaken for a suicide bomber.

Separately, a pathologist said police had led him to believe the Brazilian had "vaulted" over a Tube barrier.

The Brazilian was shot seven times in the head at close range on 22 July 2005 after being mistaken for failed 21 July suicide bomber Hussain Osman at Stockwell Tube Station.

During the inquest Michael Mansfield QC, representing the de Menezes family, said firearms officers interpreted Ms Dick's command as "he must be stopped before he gets on the Tube".

Not only would death have been instantaneous, but clearly once the first bullet hit his head and went in he would have had no perception of what was going on."
Dr Kenneth Shorrock

Ex-deputy assistant commissioner Mr Paddick replied: "I think in the scenario that we had, where you have got a DSO, you have got officers with unusual ammunition, you have got a suspected suicide bomber, that order is ambiguous and it could mean one or two things depending on your frame of mind as to how you interpret it."

Mr Paddick, appearing for the first time in the witness box, also said Ms Dick should only have been concerned with ordering a critical shot at Mr de Menezes.

The inquest has heard how Ms Dick made a series of orders as surveillance officers followed the innocent Brazilian through south London.

Mr Paddick said: "My understanding of the role of the DSO (designated senior officer) is to make decisions around when officers are confronted by a suicide bomber who is suspected of being about to detonate a device."

Dr Kenneth Shorrock, who also gave evidence at the inquest, said he was told the Brazilian jumped over a barrier before "stumbling" down an escalator.

The pathologist said he was given the wrong information during a "walk-through" with officers.

Brian Paddick
Brian Paddick is giving evidence to the inquest for the first time

Dr Shorrock carried out post-mortem examinations on Mr de Menezes and in the hours after the shooting he said he was given a "walk-through" with officers at the scene.

When asked why there were "significant errors" in his initial report, he said: "This was what was told to me.

"What happened at that time was that there were a lot of officers present and we were taken through.

"I did not write anything down. I did not make any note of who told me what - but, at the next opportunity that I had, I got my Dictaphone."

Dr Shorrock said he was not sure who told him Mr de Menezes had "vaulted" the barrier in the moments before his death.

He also said he "cannot recall" if other interested parties were at the station during the walk-through.

"The senior investigation officer had input and I spoke to him, but I spoke to a number of people."

He told the jury at the Oval cricket ground, south London, that "it was a long day" but rejected suggestions he was influenced by media reports, insisting he had made the notes before he had seen any news items.

File picture of Dr Kenneth Shorrock
Dr Shorrock blamed errors in his initial report on what he was told by police

In evidence earlier in the day, Dr Shorrock said Mr de Menezes would not have survived any of four bullet wounds to his brain.

"Pathologists never say never, nor will any doctors, but you can survive a gunshot wound to the head if it goes into a part of the brain which is not desperately important," he said.

"But in this case they went in around the region above and behind the ear and they went through the centre of the brain."

"Not only would death have been instantaneous, but clearly once the first bullet hit his head and went in he would have had no perception of what was going on."

Mr De Menezes also suffered a gunshot wound to his back.

The inquest continues.

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