The mother of Mark Duggan, whose death sparked nationwide riots after he was shot by a police marksman, is asking the High Court to overturn an inquest verdict that he was “lawfully killed”.
Pamela Duggan, other family members and supporters, reacted with shock and anger after the inquest jury returned their majority verdict in January on 29-year-old Mr Duggan. They returned to the Royal Courts of Justice for the appeal.
Michael Mansfield QC, appearing for the family, asked three judges to declare that coroner Judge Keith Cutler misdirected the jury and, in doing so, violated human rights laws.
Mr Mansfield told a packed court the “nutshell” of his case was in the question: “How is it a man who is manifestly unarmed can be lawfully shot?”
The inquest jury found Mr Duggan was lawfully killed by a police marksman in August 2011 in Tottenham, north London, despite being unarmed at the moment he was shot.
Armed police officers intercepted the minicab Mr Duggan was in on the basis of intelligence that he was part of a gang and had collected a gun. He was shot twice by an officer known as V53. One of the hits was fatal.
V53 gave as the reason for opening fire that Mr Duggan had a “gun-shaped” item contained in a sock in his hand and that he believed he was presenting a threat.
a gun, contained in a sock, was found near Mr Duggan’s body.
Mr Mansfield said the ten-strong inquest jury concluded by an 8-2 majority that they were sure that Mr Duggan did not have a gun in his hand when he was fatally shot – “however eight of the jurors also decided that Mr Duggan’s death was lawful killing”. Two jurors came to an open conclusion.
Mr Mansfield said the conclusion was the result of flawed directions from the coroner.
Lawyers for the coroner argue that there was no error in his summing up to the jury.
The hearing, expected to last two days, is being heard by Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, who said he was conscious of the public interest in the case.
The hearing continues today.