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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Police lawful death ruling upheld
Derek Bennett
Derek Bennett was shot in 2001
A ruling that police officers who shot dead a man brandishing a gun-shaped lighter acted lawfully has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Derek Bennett, 29, was hit four times in Brixton, south London, on 16 July 2001, by two marksmen who said they thought the "weapon" was real.

Three judges threw out a challenge by his family against the finding of the High Court that the killing was lawful.

Lord Justice Waller said the death had been a "terrible accident".

Feared for life

He said he hoped the family would be able to accept this and move on "after all these years".

Mr Bennett's family took the case to the High Court after the coroner refused to leave unlawful killing as a possible verdict for the jury at the inquest in 2004.

But in February 2006 a High Court judge upheld the inquest jury's verdict that police acted lawfully.

To lose a son in these tragic circumstances will have caused indescribable agony to the Bennett family
Lord Justice Waller

Upholding this ruling Lord Waller said the shots were fired after Mr Bennett had held what the police officers honestly believed was a gun to the neck of a member of the public.

He said: "To lose a son in these tragic circumstances will have caused indescribable agony to the Bennett family.

"No one could feel other than the greatest sympathy for them. But the death of their son was, on the verdict of the jury, a terrible accident."

Mr Bennett died when armed officers opened fire as he grabbed John Knightly, 53, and held the lighter to his head.

Giving evidence at the inquest, a marksman known only as Officer A said he was in fear of his life during the incident.

He said he advanced towards Mr Bennett, pausing twice as he shot six times.

Gun lighter man lawfully killed
15 Dec 04 |  London
Shooting police not charged
25 Mar 03 |  England

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