An inquest into the death of a man shot by police four years ago could be further delayed because of the pandemic, a judge has warned.
William "Curly Bill" Smith received four gunshot wounds to the head and chest when he was cornered by armed officers in Goudhurst in May 2016, having been linked to the murder of a pensioner months earlier.
A nine day inquest with a jury was set to take place at Maidstone Crown Court in November but during a pre-inquest review held today, a judge questioned whether it would go ahead as planned because of coronavirus restrictions.
If it did go ahead on the set date, Her Honour Judge Alexia Durran said giving evidence may take longer because of disinfectant procedures.
It had previously been thought the full inquest would take place in 2018.
All new jury trials were suspended on March 23 but resumed at several courts earlier this month.
Speaking at Guildford Crown Court to legal representatives and Smith's widow, Nancy Smith, who appeared by video link, she said: "From my position as a crown court judge I know that jury trials are resuming and there will be a gradual increase of that throughout the country."
She said that trials going ahead tended to be two or three days long to reduce the chance of any jurors falling ill during the case.
"Priority is given to serious sexual or violent offending. Here at Guildford we have developed a priority.... I strong suspect Maidstone will do the same.
"I certainly will be doing all that I can to try to assure...our current listening does not move but of course that may be not entirely in my gift," Judge Durran said.
During the review, questions were raised about the handling by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) of a firearm found at the scene of the shooting.
Two guns taken from another burglary were recovered from the Smiths Lane orchard where “Curly Bill”, of Golford, near Sissinghurst, was hiding, it had previously been disclosed.
'From my position as a crown court judge I know that jury trials are resuming...'
Chris Sutton-Mattocks, counsel for the inquest, said additional requests had been made to the police watchdog about why the finger printing of one firearm was not done "as quickly as possible".
He added that one member of the IOPC "covered" the firearm the following morning and more information was sought concerning this.
Abigail Fogg, counsel for the IOPC, said information about its finger printing policy and their policy on when to disturb and not disturb a crime scene would be provided.
She added the IOPC follow the same finger printing policy as Kent Police.
A report by the IOPC found that Smith was aiming a shotgun at two officers when he was fatally shot.
However, during a later hearing, Leslie Thomas, counsel for the family, cast doubt over this, stating there was little forensic evidence to suggest that Smith was pointing a gun at the officers.
Smith, 36, was on the run after being linked to the killing of Roy Blackman, from Biddenden, during a violent burglary in March 2016.
In September 2016, 38-year-old Mark Love, of Frittenden Road, Staplehurst, received a life sentence for murder.
The court heard Roy Blackman was bludgeoned to death at his home in Headcorn Road and his safe, which contained £250,000, was also taken.
Smith’s DNA was found at the scene, implicating him heavily in events. The prosecution said if alive he would also have been put on trial.
A further pre-inquest-review, to deal with necessary preparations for the inquest, is set for September.