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1987: Officer cleared in Groce shooting case

VIDEO : Report on the Groce shooting case

A police officer who shot and paralysed a mother-of-six has been cleared of all criminal charges.

The shooting happened when Inspector Douglas Lovelock led a police raid on a house in Brixton in September 1985 looking for Michael Groce, a man they had been told could be armed.

He was not at home, but in the confusion, his mother, Cherry Groce, was shot in the chest. She is now paralysed from the waist down.

Inspector Lovelock told the court it was a "terrible, terrible accident", which he would regret for the rest of his life.

The shooting sparked riots in Brixton which led to the death of a photographer, hit on the head by a brick.


"Inspector Lovelock wishes publicly to express his sincere personal regret for the injury caused to Mrs Groce"

Inspector Lovelock's solicitor Rod Fletcher

Fifty other people were injured and there were over 200 arrests.

After the verdict, Inspector Lovelock's solicitor Rod Fletcher read out a statement: "Inspector Lovelock wishes publicly to express his sincere personal regret for the injury caused to Mrs Groce in this tragic accident."

Mrs Groce was represented by solicitor Paul Boateng, who said she would be "vigorously pursuing" a claim for compensation.

The Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, ordered a special working party to be set up after the shooting of Mrs Groce.

It is expected to lay down new guidelines for police using firearms.

But calls for special firearms units have been rejected by the police federation.

Chairman Leslie Curtis said it was important officers were given rigorous training in the use of firearms.

He added: "At the end of the day you have placed the gun in the hands of a human being - you will never eradicate the (occasional) mistake that occurs."

Scotland Yard says Inspector Lovelock will be reinstated.

In Context

Michael Groce was on the run when police raided his mother's home.

He only found out what had happened from the television.

He was already a hardened criminal with convictions for theft, assault and affray.

He continued his life of crime for another 10 years.

His mother, Cherry, was in hospital for two years after the shooting.

Today, Michael Groce is a reformed man.

He is helping police take the anti-crime message to children and he has become a poet and gives readings in schools.

Solicitor Paul Boateng became a Labour MP.

In May 2002, he became the first black Cabinet minister when he was appointed chief secretary to the Treasury.


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