Shot policeman’s family believe officers should have faced criminal charges

PC Ian Terry (s)
PC Ian Terry (s)

The family of Burnley policeman Ian Terry, shot during a training exercise, believe those responsible should have faced criminal charges – after one officer was forced to resign and one was reprimanded.

PC Terry’s family issued the statement at the conclusion of a misconduct hearing into the marksman’s death in 2008.

Father-of-two PC Terry (32) died after he was shot in the chest while playing the part of a criminal during a firearms training exercise on June 9th, 2008, involving Greater Manchester Police’s Tactical Firearms Unit in a disused factory premises in Newton Heath.

Speaking to the Express, his wife Joanne said: “It has been a long and difficult six years, which we feel could have been avoided if these men had taken responsibility.

“An earlier inquest found them guilty of gross negligence so we feel that the CPS should have prosecuted. To us, it doesn’t seem that a reprimand is enough for someone found guilty of gross negligence.”

In the latest hearing, PC Chris (pseudonym) was found guilty of discharging a loaded weapon at PC Ian Terry and received a reprimand.

PC Francis (pseudonym) admitted a number of breaches at the start of the hearing surrounding his responsibilities as the Exercise Conducting Officer and has been required to resign from the Force.

A family statement read: “This independent disciplinary tribunal has found that this officer has not only breached several rules of conduct but his actions fell far below what is expected.

“We welcome the verdict but feel that this decision, together with the Unlawful Killing verdict reached by a jury at the Coroner’s Inquest in 2010, confirms our opinion that ‘Chris’ should not have been allowed by the CPS to escape facing criminal charges.

“The important result of this hearing is that we finally feel the officers responsible have been shown indisputably that they are undeniably to blame for Ian’s death and if they’d had the courage to face the consequences of their actions in 2008 and take responsibility for their actions, they could have saved our family six years of unnecessary pain and difficulty.”

The hearing which was conducted by an independent and external police panel considered all the facts from the IPCC investigation, Inquest and Health and Safety at Work Act prosecutions which followed the events of 2008.

Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said: “It is six years since Ian died, six years that Ian’s family has had to wait for a conclusion to what has been a complicated and frustrating series of legal and multiple investigative processes which have caused additional delay in bringing this to a conclusion.

“This hearing was the final stage in a very long process and I hope that this decision provides Ian’s family with some form of closure and that they can all now begin to move forward. I would like to express my admiration for the dignity and resolve shown by Ian’s family over the many years it has taken for the case to get to this point.

“Ian Terry was a complete professional, highly regarded by all his colleagues, who served the public of Greater Manchester with huge commitment and expertise.”

“Since Ian’s tragic death we have introduced a number of rigorous measures to ensure that the risk to our officers on such training exercises is minimised and that their safety is our number one priority.”

Meanwhile, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said the training exercise was “poorly planned and high risk.”

The IPCC conducted an independent investigation into PC Terry’s death and the resultant disciplinary matters in response to the IPCC’s recommendations had to await the conclusion of an inquest and a subsequent Health and Safety Executive prosecution against Greater Manchester Police and the two officers.

IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: “The IPCC investigation was concluded prior to the inquest into PC Terry’s death in 2010 and the fact it has taken more than four years to reach this conclusion must have compounded the distress of Pc Terry’s family. Two officers have now been disciplined over their role in this tragedy. This training exercise was poorly planned and high risk. Everyone involved will have to live with the fact that a popular and well respected officer lost his life as a result of the mistakes made on that day.

“This was a shocking wake-up call for Greater Manchester Police firearms unit. Firearms officers have a very difficult and dangerous job to do and their training does need to be challenging. However in this instance completely unnecessary risks were taken resulting in Pc Terry’s death. His death was a terrible, personal tragedy for his family and my sympathies remain with them.”