PFNI welcomes coroner’s finding in Ballynahinch fatal shooting

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has welcomed a finding by a coroner that the officer involved in a fatal shooting in Ballynahinch 18 years ago genuinely believed his life was in danger.

Feb 22, 2024
By Paul Jacques
PFNI chair Liam Kelly

The coroner found that the officer’s use of lethal force was “proportionate” and “no more than was absolutely necessary”.

A coroner found today that a PSNI officer’s decision to use lethal force after a stolen car failed to stop at a checkpoint almost 18 years ago was “proportionate”.

Steven Colwell, 23, originally from Belfast, died on Easter Sunday 2006 after police fired at the stolen BMW he was driving, which failed to stop at the checkpoint in Ballynahinch, Co Down.

PFNI chair Liam Kelly said: “The loss of life in this incident is deeply regretted. A family still mourns and no judicial process will diminish their sense of loss.

“The coroner found that the officer’s belief that his life was in danger was genuine, reasonable and honestly held. This outcome will come as great relief to the individual involved who was assisted at every stage in this protracted process by the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

“This finding by the coroner is in marked contrast to the findings and recommendations of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland following their related investigation that was conducted in 2011. There was quite rightly no criminal or misconduct outcome for the principal officer in this case. Not for the first time has the findings of the Office of the Police Ombudsman been so starkly contradicted in a court.

“Clearly, there are further questions for the Police Ombudsman as to how their investigators came to the original conclusions they did. The Ombudsman should use this particular finding as an opportune time to reflect and take a long, hard look at how her office goes about its work.”

The Police Ombudsman, which previously investigated Mr Colwell’s death, found in 2011 that the officer’s actions had been “critically flawed”.

It added the officer’s actions in discharging two shots had created significant risk of further casualties.

That 2011 finding was rejected by the PFNI.

Related News

Select Vacancies

Chief of Police

Gibraltar Defence Police

Assistant Chief Constables

Scottish Police Authority

Constables on Promotion to Sergeant

Greater Manchester Police

Copyright © 2024 Police Professional