A police force and a police officer have been prosecuted and fined after a fellow police officer was killed in training in 2008.
The court case came about after PC Ian Terry, 32, was killed by a colleague during a firearms training session in Manchester after a number of health and safety failings.
The incident occurred on 9 June 2008 in a disused warehouse near Manchester. PC Terry was undergoing firearms training with fellow officers when he was shot in the chest with a shotgun. He suffered severe injuries to his chest and although he was rushed to hospital he was pronounced dead at hospital.
The accident was notified to the Health and Safety Executive and an investigation was commenced into the circumstances of PC Terry’s death. This investigation resulted in a recommendation from the Health and Safety Executive that both Greater Manchester Police Force and a colleague of PC Terry’s – known as Constable Francis to protect his identity – should face criminal prosecution as a result of perceived breaches of health and safety regulations.
The case came before Manchester Crown Court on 12 July 2013. The court heard that PC Terry had been undertaking a firearms course on the day in question and that he had been role-playing an armed criminal when he was shot with the shotgun. The HSE investigation found that PC Terry’s colleague, Constable Francis, had failed to protect his work colleague at the time of the incident and that the firearms range breached health and safety regulations. It also found that Greater Manchester Police had failed to adequately monitor the training courses that its firearms unit had the responsibility to design and run. Another officer, Sergeant Eric, was found not guilty of breaching health and safety regulations.
Greater Manchester Police pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a breach of s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 – that it had failed to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees – and was fined £166,666. It was also ordered to pay the prosecutions costs to the sum of £90,000.
Constable Francis and Sergeant Eric both pleaded not guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Sergeant Eric was found not guilty but Constable Francis was found guilty. Constable Francis was as a result fined £2,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs to the sum of £500.
It appears that neither Greater Manchester Police, Constable Francis nor Sergeant Eric – nor their criminal defence solicitors – commented after the hearing. It is not currently known whether PC Terry’s family have made or may make a claim personal injury against Greater Manchester Police.
HSE inspector Mr Mike Calcutt commented after the prosecution: “Ian Terry was a well liked and respected police officer, and a loving family man. He was shot and killed on a training exercise in Manchester by one of his colleagues. His death was entirely preventable. Today, PC Francis has been found guilty of failing to protect his colleague by introducing dangerous and reckless elements into a training exercise. Greater Manchester Police accepted its failings and we welcomed their guilty plea earlier this year.”
Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in Richmond and Monument, London