Published: 17:20, 25 January 2010
| Updated: 17:20, 25 January 2010
An armed raider shot three times by a police undercover firearms officer as he fled the scene of a robbery was lawfully killed, a jury has decided.
The inquest jury reached the verdict into the death of father-of-three Robert Haines of Challock after three hours of deliberation this afternoon.
Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox recorded a verdict of lawful killing following the lengthy inquest into Mr Haines' death following the raid on the Nationwide in High Street, New Romney on the night of October 31, 2006.
In a statement the jury said Mr Haines had been shot as he fled armed police following an armed robbery on the bank. He had resisted arrest and dispatched a shot from a sawn-off shotgun he was carrying and shots had been returned at him by the unidentified police officer.
Last week the officer, known only as Echo 19 to protect his identity, told the inquest at Folkestone magistrates court that he had a "sense of guilt" for not firing earlier at the 41-year-old as he ran towards him in a darkened alleyway.
Mr Haines was fleeing the Nationwide branch to his escape car down an alleyway with £105,000 in one hand and a sawn-off shotgun in the other.
Echo 19 said: "I had identified myself as an armed officer but did not fire at that point. I put the lives of my colleagues at risk and I do have a sense of guilt. There was definitely a threat there, but not enough for me to shoot him at that stage."
Within eight seconds of his encounter, Echo 19, equipped with a G36 carbine assault rifle, fired at the robber three times.
He said: "The first thing I noticed was the dark clothing but the most memorable thing for me was the face. It was covered almost entirely in black but the eye holes were cut out and I could clearly see the white flesh. It was that contrast that I immediately thought 'robber'."
Haines appeared to flinch and quickly headed towards the waiting silver Mercedes in the car park near Church Road.
Echo 19 said: "With the most amazing speed he has turned to his left and let the gun down and he has turned and faced me. Within a second he had fired.
"I saw the flash from his left hip and I heard a loud bang and I thought; I'm being shot at. He's trying to kill me.
"I raised my weapon up and I fired two shots. He was still facing me when I'd fired the shots and he remained facing me. I thought, have I missed or is he wearing body armour, because in my mind he was still an imminent threat. I had to remove this threat.
"I didn't know if my colleagues were hit and I didn't know if I'd been hit and it was vital that I stop him from shooting again so I fired a third shot. I then noticed he slumped and fell to the ground."
Echo 19 told the court he shouted "get your hands up, let me see your hands," as if his life depended on it. But Haines, face down with his arms underneath his body, did not move.
He continued: "I took that as him being incompliant. I knew there was a gun, there was no response, he was still a threat, and so I needed to use another form of force. I approached his left hand side and I kicked him as hard as I could in his ribs and I shouted show me your hands."
Echo 19 said he could not remember Haines moving but next remembered a taser being fired into the father-of-three. Haines' shotgun was later found to be 15 metres away from his body.
Police medics moved in to assess Haines' injuries before he was transferred to William Harvey Hospital by ambulance but was pronounced dead about an hour later at 9pm. The court heard Haines was shot in his left arm, left hip and the small of the back. This bullet exited his body in his right shoulder.
The only injury Echo 19 sustained, along with several other officers, was a graze on his head caused by low door frames.
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