Man Guilty Of Supplying Duggan Gun
A man has been found guilty of supplying a gun to Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police just minutes later sparked the 2011 summer riots.
Kevin Hutchinson-Foster was convicted today of passing the gun to Mr Duggan after a retrial at the Old Bailey. A jury previously failed to reach a verdict at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
During the trial the court heard that Mr Duggan collected the BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun just 15 minutes before he was shot dead on August 4 2011.
The 29-year-old's death in Ferry Lane, Tottenham, north London, sparked riots that swept across London and other English towns and cities.
Hutchinson-Foster, 30, had denied a charge of "selling or transferring a prohibited firearm" to Mr Duggan between July 28 and August 5, 2011.
A jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court could not reach a verdict after a trial last year, but after a retrial at the Old Bailey, a jury of seven women and five men today convicted him by majority verdict.
During both trials armed police, who gave evidence anonymously, described how they opened fire on Mr Duggan because they saw him get out of the cab holding a loaded gun.
The officer who shot Mr Duggan twice - once in the chest and once in the arm - said he fired because he thought he was going to shoot him and his colleagues.
Mr Duggan, who was under police surveillance that day and the day before, had gone in the minicab to Leyton, east London, where he collected the gun in a shoebox from Hutchinson-Foster, before continuing to Tottenham.
The cab was pulled over by armed police in four unmarked cars in a "hard stop", and as Mr Duggan got out clutching the gun, he was shot.
During the trial, prosecutor Edward Brown QC told the court:
"The death of Mr Duggan has been regarded as the event that sparked the riots in north London, which then spread across London and then to other cities and which attracted widespread publicity in the United Kingdom and abroad."
But he told the jury it was not their task to decide the "rights and wrongs" of Mr Duggan's shooting, which will be examined at the inquest into his death, set to take place in September.
Hutchinson-Foster has admitted using the same gun to beat barber Peter Osadebay at a barber's shop in Dalston, east London, just six days before Mr Duggan's death. The defendant claimed this was why his DNA was found on the gun when it was retrieved from Ferry Lane on August 4, along with traces of Mr Osadebay's blood.
The gun was found five metres from Mr Duggan's body, on a grass verge behind railings.
The shoebox, found in the minicab, had both Mr Duggan's and the defendant's fingerprints on it, while mobile phone evidence showed they were in contact with each other in the run up to the shooting.
But Hutchinson-Foster, a cannabis user with convictions for possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to supply, claimed Mr Duggan had wanted his help to sell some cannabis.
He said he collected the firearm from someone else so he could beat Mr Osadebay on July 29, but had returned it on the same day.
The jury heard testimonies from the CO19 officers who shot Mr Duggan.
The man who opened fire on the 29-year-old, known only as V53, said he was sure Mr Duggan was holding a handgun.
He shot Mr Duggan once in the chest, then a second time, hitting his right bicep. Afterwards he went to treat a fellow officer who had been hit by a stray bullet, but realising it had hit his radio, started giving CPR to Mr Duggan.
Other officers told the court Mr Duggan was hiding something in his hand when the cab was stopped and saw him raise what appeared to be a gun as he got out.
But the minicab driver, who said he would never be able to wipe the incident from his mind, said he did not see Mr Duggan raise his arms towards officers.
The family of Mark Duggan believe the trial was more about their son than the defendant, Kevin Hutchinson-Foster.
As the only public account so far by police marksmen of the shooting that prompted the August 2011 riots, interest in Hutchinson-Foster's trial and retrial focused on police explanations of what prompted them to open fire on Mr Duggan as he got out of the minicab.
Whether the 29-year-old was holding a gun when he was shot is a question that has been asked since he was shot dead 17 months ago and one that will be at the centre of his long-awaited inquest.
But Mr Duggan's family have spoken of the "deep sense of injustice" over the accounts of his death that emerged during Hutchinson-Foster's trial, and their frustration at continued delays of his long-awaited inquest.
Mr Duggan's mother Pamela has said it was "heartbreaking" that she will have endured a wait of more than two years for the inquest into her son's death, which is now not expected to begin until September.
Speaking after a pre-inquest hearing, she said:
"It's heartbreaking for me, he's my son. It's taken me a lot of courage to come here today. He was only 29 and he was killed and he's got children."
Mr Duggan's family have previously have criticised what they call the prosecution's "unjustified and untested" claims in Hutchinson-Foster's trial.
The family's barrister Michael Mansfield QC told a previous pre-inquest hearing:
"There is a deep sense of injustice felt by all family members relating to Mark Duggan by the untrammelled exercise of the holding of a trial in public which canvassed the very issues which relate to the core of this inquest, namely the circumstances of Mark Duggan's death."
From the start of Hutchinson-Foster's original trial in September, Mr Duggan's family have remained adamant that the question of whether he was holding a gun is something that should only be addressed at his inquest.
The day after prosecutor Edward Brown QC's headline-grabbing opening in the original trial - in which he said police opened fire because Mr Duggan had a gun - they tried to get reporting of the trial banned.
Accusing Mr Brown of putting forward "unjustified and untested claims", they asked the judge to ban reporting of any reference to Mr Duggan's actions leading up to the shooting until the end of his inquest.
During his opening in both the trial and retrial, Mr Brown told jurors the defendant handed the gun to Mr Duggan just 15 minutes before he was shot by police, telling them he had the gun in his hand and appeared to be about to shoot as he got out of the minicab.
"The armed police surrounded the cab but as Mr Duggan got out, he was seen to have the gun in his hand," he said.
"The police marksmen were in no doubt that this was as dangerous a position as possible - gun in hand, and he was seen to start to bring it round as if to shoot."
The judge's refusal to ban reporting in the first trial prompted the family to highlight their concerns.
In a media statement issued during the original trial, they said:
"The Duggan family is not represented in Mr Hutchinson-Foster's trial.
"The matters that the family would want investigated at the inquest would not get the attention in this criminal trial as they are not represented.
"The evidence and conclusions of this trial should not prejudice and pre-empt the inquest itself."
But with many months still to go before an inquest starts, it will be some time before the Mark Duggan's family get the answers they are looking for.