Jury in inquest of St Neots man Richard Davies rule his killing by armed police officers was lawful

Richard Davies

Richard Davies - Credit: Archant

The jury in the inquest of St Neots man Richard Davies has concluded that his killing was lawful.

Richard Davies was shot at his Duck Lane home

Richard Davies was shot at his Duck Lane home - Credit: Archant

After 11 days of evidence from nearly 40 witnesses at Peterborough Town Hall, the jury took seven hours to reach a conclusion of lawful killing.

While there was no criticism of Cambridgeshire police, the coroner, Nicholas Moss, said he would be writing a letter to voice his concerns about the type of ammunition used by the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire joint firearms unit.

Speaking outside the hearing, Gillian Davies, mother of Richard, said that while they “could not condone” his actions, they believe he had been suffering with mental health problems, which contributed to his behaviour on the night of the incident.

Mrs Davies added: “Richard was a much-loved son and brother and we would like to thank the coroner, the legal teams, and the jury for their assistance in this matter.”

The scene of the shooting, in Duck Lane, St Neots.

The scene of the shooting, in Duck Lane, St Neots. - Credit: Archant

During the course of the hearing, the jury heard Mr Davies was suffering from depression and had been referred for a suspected personality disorder.

His 20-year marriage was in trouble and he and his wife had agreed he would leave the family home at the end of the month.

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On the evening of October 21, 2015, after drinking heavily all day, he tied up his three children and threatened them with an eight-inch kitchen knife. Mr Davies subjected his children to a terrifying ordeal during which he bound them, placed duct tape over their mouths and ordered them to stay on their beds, comparing his actions to tactics used by the SAS.

The children, who were referred to as Child A, Child B and Child C, to protect their identities, managed to escape, but were so desperate to flee the house they jumped from the bedroom windows.

All three made desperate 999 calls, as well as phoning and sending text messages to their mother, Samantha, who was visiting her sister a few minutes away. Mrs Davies received a text message that read: “Call the police. Get them to come to our house. Dad’s going to kill himself. He’s tied us up. I’m not joking.”

Mr Davies also held a knife against Child’s B’s throat and said he would kill Child B, the other children and Samantha Davies if Child B did not stop making a noise.

Events played out extremely rapidly, the first 999 call was made at 7.45pm and a team of six police firearms officers, from the Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire joint firearms unit, were dispatched to the scene.

Mr Davies was shot at 8.08pm, less than 25 minutes after that first call, but the period from the officers arriving in Duck Lane and the fatal shot has been timed at four minutes and 18 seconds. The police officer who made the fatal shot, I7, had been at the scene for between 30 and 40 seconds.

When they arrived, Mr Davies was bare chested and hanging out of the living room window, shouting obscenities. He was said to have “goaded” and “provoked” the armed officers, shouting “come on, shoot me”.

In the few minutes before the fatal shot was fired, the officers, who had been instructed to “contain and call out” attempted to calm the situation and told Mr Davies to “come out with his hands on show”. They were warned about the possibility of a provoked shooting and a police negotiator had been called, but no attempt was made to call Mr Davies’s mobile phone and other forms of weapons, including tasers and baton guns, were deemed inappropriate.

The six firearms officers were given firearms authority – an authorisation to take the “critical shot” if they felt the circumstances demanded it and there was a threat to themselves, their colleagues or members of the public.

Mr Davies used a home-made gun, that had a lever instead of a trigger, firing three shots from the downstairs living room window and another two from the bedroom upstairs before he was shot by I7. Forensic teams found 78 rounds of .22 ammunition in the bedroom where Mr Davies had fired from.

I7 arrived just after the third shot had been fired, he saw what he described as a puff of smoke and a flash of light and heard another shot.

“I brought my weapon up to the window but Mr Davies ducked,” he said.

When Mr Davies reappeared he made the shot.

“I believed that he had already shot at police and was about to do it again. It was my belief that there was an immediate threat so I aimed at the centre of his chest and fired a shot to stop him firing again. I was worried he was about to kill one of my colleagues or a member of the public.”

“As I fired, Mr Davies fired, it was almost simultaneously. I heard two bangs and there was a flash of light and a puff of smoke.”

Mr Davies was pronounced dead at the scene at 8.43pm after suffering massive blood loss.