MARK Duggan, the man whose death triggered the 2011 riots, armed himself with a loaded pistol just 15 minutes before he was shot dead by police, a jury in London has decided.
The 29-year-old collected the BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun from drug dealer Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, 30, who was convicted today of supplying the illegal firearm.
The jury’s verdict supports the police’s claim that Duggan was carrying a gun at the time he was shot, something which his family has always questioned.
It also means the full story of the gang rivalry and unavenged murder which led up to Duggan’s death can now be told for the first time.
The Old Bailey jury which tried Hutchinson-Foster was not told that Duggan was under police surveillance because officers believed he was planning a tit-for-tat murder in revenge for the death of his cousin Kelvin Easton, who was stabbed in a London nightclub in March 2011.
Officers from Operation Trident, Scotland Yard’s “black-on-black” and gang violence investigation unit, had been tracking Duggan for days, believing him to be a senior member of the Tottenham-based Star Gang, who wanted to kill a member of a rival gang based in Hackney thought to be responsible for 23-year-old Easton’s death.
Warren Allen, 29, was later charged with murdering Easton, in what was, in turn, said to have been a revenge murder for an attack on one of his friends in gangland’s endless cycle of violence.
Allen was acquitted of murder following a three-week trial at the Old Bailey last year, but until now a court order has banned the reporting of any link between that trial and the death of Mark Duggan.
To date, no-one has been convicted of Easton’s murder, and Duggan’s friends believe he was carrying the 9mm gun supplied to him by Hutchinson-Foster for protection, terrified that he would suffer the same fate as his cousin.
Just 12 minutes after Duggan was given the pistol, he was shot dead by a police marksman who feared he was about to open fire as he got out of a taxi on Aug 4, 2011.
The officer who fired the two fatal shots from five metres away, known only as V53, had told Hutchinson-Foster’s trial that he saw the gun in Duggan’s right hand, covered in a sock, and saw his arm move in what he was convinced was an attempt to aim at him.
He described it as an “oh, **** moment” and opened fire, convinced he was about to be shot. The gun was later retrieved from a grass verge five metres from Duggan’s body.
Duggan’s death, and an incorrect statement by police at the time that he had opened fire, was the spark that ignited the worst riots in England for decades, starting in London and quickly spreading to other cities.
His family were so concerned that the evidence heard at the Hutchinson-Foster trial would prejudice the outcome of an inquest into Duggan’s death, scheduled for September this year, that they tried unsuccessfully to have all reporting of the case banned.
The Duggan family did not attend the trial, or a previous trial in which a jury was unable to reach a verdict, but Duggan’s brother Shaun Hall said it was unfair that he was effectively “on trial” when he was not alive to defend himself.
The family have insisted Duggan was a family man, devoted to his four children, with no connections to gangs.
Mr Hall said he was “100 per cent sure” that none of the police officers who were at the shooting were in any danger from Duggan.
Hutchinson-Foster, who admitted using the same gun to pistol-whip a barber a week before Duggan’s death, was on probation at the time he gave Duggan the gun, and has previous convictions for possessing crack cocaine and heroin with intent to supply. He is currently serving a 54-month sentence for drug offences.
He will be sentenced on February 26.
- Gordon Rayner, Telegraph.co.uk