James Carlo Wilson inquest: Police missed 'golden opportunity' to avoid death of man shot in street stand-off

James Carlo Wilson was shot dead in South Shields.
James Carlo Wilson was shot dead in South Shields.

Police missed a “golden opportunity” to avoid shooting dead a man in a South Shields street, an inquest has been told.

A jury heard they could have changed their approach plan once it became apparent James Carlo Wilson was refusing to put down his weapon amid threats to shoot officers.

Police in Frenchman's Way, South Shields.

Police in Frenchman's Way, South Shields.

Sam Faulks, representing Mr Wilson’s mother, made the claim while cross examining the police firearms expert who led an independent inquiry into the incident.

Mr Wilson, 24, of Candlish Street, South Shields, was shot in the early hours of March 29, 2016, outside his former girlfriend’s home in the town's Frenchman’s Way.

He had telephoned police twice that night, saying he was armed with a 9mm gun and would shoot officers who arrived at the scene.

Related: Police believe man shot in South Shields street was 'massive threat' to public safety, inquest told

An inquest is being held into Mr Wilson's death.

An inquest is being held into Mr Wilson's death.

Mr Faulks suggested to Sgt Stuart Brown, deputy chief firearms instructor for the East Midlands police region, that the operation could have been handled differently at mid-point.

And he added: “Once it was apparent that he was refusing to put the gun down and threats had been offered, this was a golden opportunity missed to change the plan again.”

The inquest heard two armed response units initially planned to meet at a rendezvous point en route - but that changed as the operation unfolded and more information became available.

Instead, they were ordered to Frenchman’s Way, near Horsley Hill, immediately, which meant one vehicle arrived three minutes ahead of the other.

By the time the second got there, at around 1.35am, Mr Wilson had been shot in the chest by a bullet fired from a rifle, leading to his death in hospital three days later.

Mr Faulks suggested that having two or more armed vehicles present would have doubled the visual impact of the police presence.

He said this strategy would have meant more non-lethal weaponry being available, leading to a “deterrent effect”.

Read more: Friend says James Carlo Wilson looked 'like he had no cares' before he was shot

Sgt Brown said this was potentially correct but would have required the police vehicles to approach Frenchman’s Way from different routes.

And he added: “It difficult to say it’s a better way of doing it against resources available at the time.”

In fact, he said the option may have given Mr Wilson more opportunity to focus and “thereby increase the risk to people in the vicinity”.

Sgt Brown also told the inquest that Northumbria Police’s response to Mr Wilson’s calls and its rendezvous strategy, had been “appropriate”.

Of the 9mm gun Mr Wilson told police call handlers he had, Sgt Brown said it had a range of up to 30m.

He confirmed a bullet fired from it would travel at around 900ft per second, adding: “It’s a lethal weapon.”

He also said he was satisfied the briefing given to the armed response units had contained all the relevant information they required.

However, Sgt Brown, who carried out his review on behalf of the former Independent Police Complaints Commission, admitted it was not necessarily what was contained in national training guidelines.

Sgt Brown also said the decision to designate a rendezvous point was also not standard practice but was an acceptable option.

The inquest has heard Mr Wilson was ordered by police to drop his weapon seven times, but failed to do so.

He was first shot with an attenuating energy projectile (AEP) - a type of rubber bullet – which failed to drop him to the ground.

Five seconds later, a second officer fired a bullet from a rifle, which caused fatal injuries.

It has been claimed Mr Wilson wanted to go out in a ‘blaze of glory’ and had deliberately put himself in the firing line so as to ‘commit suicide’.

The hearing continues on Monday.