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'I found gun five metres away' says police officer

Mark Duggan. Photo: Police/family handout

A firearms officer has told a court of how he found the gun that allegedly belonged to Mark Duggan discarded in bushes about "five metres away" from where he was shot dead.

The officer, known as R31, told the trial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, who is accused of providing Mr Duggan with a handgun minutes before he was killed on August 4 last year, that he jumped out of his unmarked police car to try to stop him escaping.

This was only "about a second" before one of his colleagues on the firearms team shot Mr Duggan, 29, whose death sparked widespread riots last year, he said.

He later found the gun in bushes on the other side of some railings "perhaps the length of a car" away from where Mr Duggan lay, the officer told jurors at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London.

He appeared to be trying to run away from police after the minicab in which he was a passenger was stopped in Ferry Lane, Tottenham, north London, he said.

I was still firmly convinced that he was trying to escape because of the direction that he was moving.

In my experience of people who react before, they either act like rabbits and freeze in the headlights or they try and escape and I assumed it was the former.

– Firearms officer

He was then aware of gunshots being fired from behind him and saw Mr Duggan fall to the ground, he said.

He started bending forward at the waist and at the same time his legs collapsed.

Once the firearm was discharged, my lord, I was quite stunned because I was actually only a few feet away from the barrel of the gun when it was discharged and obviously it was extremely loud if you're quite close to it, and it was quite painful.

– Firearms officer

After overcoming this he immediately went to the aid of one of his colleagues who believed he had also been shot.

He then moved one of the police cars to create a barrier between the incident and a group of bystanders who he thought were filming the scene on their mobile phones, the officer said.

Giving evidence in the witness box from behind a screen, the policeman, who has been a firearms officer since 1998, said he then searched the area for the gun that Mr Duggan was believed to have been holding.

I made an assumption that given the level of activity in the area between the two lampposts, that if the gun was there it would be found, and I looked for the next most obvious place which seemed to be the grass area between the two lampposts behind the metal railings.

– Firearms officer

After climbing over the railings, he searched in some bushes "probably two to three feet-high" that were between the lampposts and a wall and then saw a black object, he said.

As I got closer it became quite obvious that it was something in the shape of a self-loading pistol that was in a sock.

– Firearms officer

A uniformed armed response vehicle officer who had arrived at the scene then joined him, and he asked him to watch the gun for him while he got an exhibit bag to stop the weapon being contaminated, he said.

But he then struggled to find a heavy object to weigh the bag down. Asked by prosecutor Edward Brown QC whether he eventually found something suitable, he told the court:

I found something but whether it was sensible, I'm not sure. I found a cannabis plant that was in a plant pot in the bushes.

– Firearms officer

Hutchinson-Foster is on trial accused of passing the gun to Mr Duggan earlier that day. The 30-year-old, of no fixed abode, is charged with "selling or transferring a prohibited firearm" to Mr Duggan between July 28 and August 5 last year.

He denies passing the modified BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun to Mr Duggan, contrary to the Firearms Act 1968.

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