NewsCrime World

Man shot dead by police had pointed gun at child's head, inquest hears

James Fox
James Fox

A man who had pointed a gun at the head of a child was later shot dead by police when he opened the door of his flat, an inquest has heard.

James Fox, who had a history of mental illness, was hit five times by armed officers who believed he was carrying a gun at his sixth-floor home on August 30 last year.

North London Coroner's Court heard that, two hours earlier, the 43-year-old had gone to the north London home of his father, Eamon Fox, and stepmother, Mary Bourke, and made threats towards the older man, who was not at home.

In a dramatic 101 call to police played to the jury, a child who was in the house with Mrs Bourke at the time but cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: "He had the gun and he was pointing it at me. He was pointing it at my head."

Mrs Bourke had earlier been heard to tell the operator: "He's gone now but he had a gun."

Police subsequently began a search for Mr Fox and armed officers were deployed to his flat in Enfield, fearing he was armed with a weapon that could have been a shotgun or rifle.

The jury heard that Mr Fox had previously been known to own an airgun.

Coroner Andrew Walker told the jury of five men and five women: "Five police officers entered Picardy House and made their way outside Mr Fox's flat, where at about 11.40pm police fired five shots, fatally wounding Mr Fox when he opened his door, carrying what police believed to be a firearm."

He added that Andover-born Mr Fox, who died at the scene, had a "history of contact with the mental health services".

Sergeant Derek Brook, the Metropolitan Police's firearms tactical adviser in the operation, said although officers had been told by an informant that Mr Fox was carrying an airgun, "we couldn't be 100 per cent sure" it was not something more powerful.

He added: "There wasn't a way for us to identify whether it was an air pistol or not.

"My understanding is that he (the informant) was not there at the time and didn't see the weapon."