Witness denies comments in police statement at Romford shooting inquest

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

Richard Cottier was shot dead by police in Collier Row in April 2018. Photo: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

A witness testifying about a police shooting in Romford has claimed in court that parts of her police statement were not true.

Jacqueline Squibb testified on Tuesday (May 25) that the statement exaggerated how long police had waited before opening fire on a Collier Row father, and contained a remark about him that she had not made.

“There are words that have been put in there that I haven’t said,” she told jurors on day two of a three-week inquest into the fatal shooting of Richard Cottier, which opened on Monday at Barking Town Hall.

Ms Squibb was one of only two civilian witnesses listed to testify that they had witnessed the shooting.

The other witness, Danny Ward, told jurors on Tuesday he had quickly spotted that the gun Mr Cottier was carrying was not real.

Mr Cottier, 41, was shot twice by police officers on April 9, 2018 while experiencing what witnesses believe was a mental health crisis.

Ms Squibb and Mr Ward watched as armed police shot Mr Cottier at an Esso petrol station on Collier Row Road at approximately 4.20am on April 9, 2018.

They had driven there with a third man, who is not due to testify, to buy cigarettes.

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In a police witness statement read to the jury, Ms Squibb had allegedly said of the police: “They shouted several times for the man with the gun to put it down or get down. The shouting was loud enough for the man to hear.

“This lasted for approximately at least a few minutes. A lot longer than I thought.”

Later, the statement added: “There were several minutes between the warning and the shots fired. I would say no longer than five minutes.”

Barking Town Hall

Witnesses were testifying in an inquest at Barking Town Hall on Tuesday. - Credit: Archant

But when coroner Nadia Persaud finished reading the statement and asked Ms Squibb if she agreed with its contents, she replied that she did not.

She said: “You know, I don’t really want to do this... I’ve been forced to come here. I’m really sorry to the family but I just don’t want to go over it all again.”

After persuading Ms Squibb to remain, Mrs Persaud asked which key parts of her statement she disagreed with.

“When the police came into the garage,” she replied. “They came straight in, got straight out of the car, said it twice – 'get down, get down' – and then shot him twice.

“It doesn’t say that in my statement. It says other things – that it took longer.”

Asked if she disagreed with anything else in her statement, Ms Squibb said she did.

The statement quoted her saying: “He appeared as if he was under the influence of drugs. I think crack cocaine.”

She denied making that comment, telling the court: “I didn’t say that he was on crack. I said that I could smell booze.”

Ms Squibb and Mr Ward had driven into the petrol station and seen Mr Cottier at the service hatch.

They had initially thought Mr Cottier was robbing the petrol station, but the staff member working that night – Shanmugalingam Sivanesam – testified on Tuesday that he had actually paid for a cider.

Mr Ward said he and the other male passenger in Ms Squibb's car recognised that the gun was an “air rifle”.

After realising the gun was not real, said Mr Ward, he confronted Mr Cottier.

"I said to him: 'Go home, mate. Go home. You're doing yourself no favours. Go home'," he testified.

Mr Ward did not dispute the contents of his statement.

A tactical firearms commander, testifying from behind screens, was asked whether he would have urged officers on the ground to use a less-lethal option, given Mr Cottier’s mental health situation.

He answered: “It’s a decision entirely for themselves. I’m in a control room. They can see what they can see in front of them.”

The inquest continues. 

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For more, read: 

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

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

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