Chandler's Ford robbers lawfully killed by Met Police
- 15 November 2011
- From the section Hampshire & Isle of Wight
Two men shot dead by police as they robbed a security guard outside a bank were killed lawfully, an inquest jury has decided.
Mark Nunes, 35, and Andrew Markland, 36, of London, were shot in 2007 during the raid in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire.
Nunes was shot first when he aimed a 9mm pistol at the guard.
The Metropolitan Police were lying in wait for the pair but had not arrested them earlier due to a lack of evidence, the inquest in Winchester heard.
Following the verdict, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) published its report on the shootings and said there was a "window of opportunity" to arrest the pair safely.
The Met Police said it will review recommendations by the IPCC and the coroner's findings.
Nunes was the leader of a gang whose other members were later convicted of carrying out similar raids across southern England.
Officers had been investigating them for a year and received intelligence Nunes was planning to hold up a cash delivery van in the town.
The "meticulously-planned" covert operation, on 13 September 2007, by the Metropolitan Police's CO19 firearms team had been set up to intercept Nunes and his gang, which included Markland.
'Farce' for families
During the six-week hearing, jurors saw CCTV footage of the moment a police rifleman, positioned in overlooking flats, shot Nunes as he pointed the gun at the G4S security guard's head.
Markland then ran over and picked up Nunes's gun before being shot by another police marksman.
He was then seen moving, so another shot was fired into his chest, the hearing was told.
Markland, a chef, of Brixton, south London, was pronounced dead at the scene while Nunes, of Streatham, South London, died later that morning in hospital.
Central Hampshire coroner Graham Short had told jurors the inquest would examine the "operational and tactical decisions that preceded those events".
He told jurors they could only return a lawful killing or open verdict, which the dead men's relatives said had "rendered the proceedings a farce for the families".
Surveillance teams had earlier spotted Markland in a bus stop over the road from the HSBC bank, and Nunes as a passenger in a Volvo estate.
But police did not move in because they still did not have enough evidence, the inquest heard, instead waiting for two minutes until Nunes made his move.
An investigation by the IPCC has already seen changes to police policy, including the role of firearms commander not being undertaken by the senior investigating officer.
The IPCC said: "We will never know if there would have been a different outcome had the Metropolitan Police separated the role.
"Had there been this separation, there would have been no potential conflict between the need to gather enough evidence to secure a conviction and public safety."
In a statement after the verdicts, the families said: "The families of Mark Nunes and Andrew Markland waited for four years for the full inquest touching upon the deaths of their loved ones."
They said the inquest had heard evidence of "various opportunities" for police to disrupt the robbery earlier in "order to minimise the risk to the lives of the security guard, members of the public and the deceased".
They added they had wanted the jury to have been allowed to record a narrative verdict to "identify any failures in the police operation that they considered caused or more than minimally contributed to the men's deaths".
In a statement, the Met Police said: "These circumstances illustrate clearly the immensely difficult and split-second decisions that officers have to make when protecting the public from the actions of armed criminals.
"In the light of these proceedings we will review the coroner's findings and IPCC recommendations."