Crossbow siege man Keith Richards 'not unlawfully killed', coroner rules

Scene of the shooting in Shildon
Image caption Keith Richards became involved in the stand-off outside his home in Shildon

A depressed man shot dead by a Durham Police marksman after firing crossbow bolts was not unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Keith Richards, 47, died during a stand-off outside his home in Shildon, County Durham, in May 2009.

Mr Richards died from a single round from a sniper rifle after he brandished a crossbow at police.

Coroner Andrew Tweddle told the jury at Newton Aycliffe they must return an open verdict or one of lawful killing.

The father-of-two was almost three times over what is the drink-drive limit when he repeatedly rang police and called them to his home.

The unemployed former teaching assistant had separated from his wife, handed the keys to their home to the bank before it was repossessed and had recently been arrested for drink driving.

Earlier the inquest heard Mr Richards indiscriminately fired a number of crossbow bolts from a bedroom window of his rented terraced house as he angrily remonstrated with police.

He was heard to shout that his life was over and a marksman told the inquest he believed Mr Richards "was trying to kill me" when he pulled the trigger of his police weapon.

A colleague also shot Mr Richards, but the round only caused a glancing blow.

Mr Tweddle told the jury: "Nobody is on trial. Neither are you here to deal with matters of civil liability."

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