Forensic pathologist testifies at inquest of father shot by police

Richard Cottier who was shot dead by police in Collier Row. Photo: Ellie Hoskins

Richard Cottier was shot dead by police in Collier Row Road on April 9, 2018 - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

A Romford father shot dead by police had cocaine and steroids in his system, a court has heard. 

However, jurors were told the amount of drugs found in the system of Richard Cottier, 41, of Collier Row, would not have caused an overdose. 

Mr Cottier was shot twice by police on April 9, 2018, after dialling 999. 

The court has heard testimony that the “gun” he was carrying was an air rifle with no ammunition. 

The inquest into Mr Cottier’s death heard from only one witness on Friday (May 28) – consultant forensic pathologist Dr Robert Charles Chapman. 

Gunshot wounds

Dr Chapman, who conducted a post-mortem examination on Mr Cottier three days after his death, testified that the gunshot wounds would "each have proved independently fatal”. 

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The trajectory of one bullet “indicated that the left arm had been raised above the level of the heart at the time of the gunshot discharge,” he added. 

On Thursday, the court heard from two anonymous firearms officers, one of whom fired one of the fatal shots, that Mr Cottier had raised his left arm to his chest in order to point the air rifle at police. 

Barking town hall. Picture: Luke Acton.

The inquest into Mr Cottier's death is being heard at Barking Town Hall. - Credit: Luke Acton

After Dr Chapman’s evidence, coroner Nadia Persaud read into evidence two expert reports about substances found in Mr Cottier’s body. 

Drugs 

One report, by forensic scientist Lindsey Ward, said alcohol had been found in Mr Cottier’s system at two-and-a-half times the UK drink-drive limit. 

“It would be sufficient to produce a high degree of intoxication in the average social drinker, although a regular/heavy drinker may be less affected,” she wrote. 

Ms Ward said the amount of cocaine in Mr Cottier’s system was “consistent with recent use of the drug and Mr Cottier may have been experiencing some of its associated effects at the time of the incident that led to his death”. 

She listed side effects as euphoria, increased confidence, hyperactivity and confusion. Long-term use, she added, may include paranoia, panic attacks and psychosis. 

Ms Ward said the samples taken from Mr Cottier’s body had not been tested until a year after his death. 

Dr Chapman was asked if he knew why there had been such a delay, but testified that he did not. 

The second report read into the record was by Dr Vincent Cirimele, a toxicology expert. 

Dr Cirimele said there was evidence that Mr Cottier had been using steroids “over several hours to days prior to his death”. 

He wrote the steroids have been linked to mood disorders, mania, hypermania, depression and increases in aggression.

The inquest is due to reprise on Tuesday, June 1, and last another two weeks.

When life is difficult, the Samaritans is available 365 days, 24/7. Call for free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org.  

More on the Richard Cottier inquest

Day 1 

Collier Row father shot by police had 'fake gun', inquest hears 

Day 2

Records of calls in Romford police shooting were 'wrong', inquest hears 

Witness denies comments in police statement at Romford Shooting inquest 

Day 3

Senior officer not told gun might be fake, Romford shooting inquest hears

Officer was 'wrongly told' Romford father threatened family, inquest hears

Day 4

Romford shooting officer: 'I honestly believed I was going to be killed'

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