Inquest begins after man shot by police

Inquest begins after man shot by police

6 September 2017

AN inquest has opened into the death of a man shot dead by police as he drove a stolen car through a checkpoint in Ballynahinch.

Steven Colwell was 23 when police fired on the BMW car, which failed to stop at the checkpoint in April 2006.

Around 100 witnesses are expected to give evidence at the inquest, which is due to last six weeks.

Belfast Coroner’s Court heard that the hearing would examine the circumstances of Mr Colwell’s death, including the planning and supervision of the police operation and the fitness of the police officer to have a firearm.

The inquest was told that the officer who fired the shot through the window of the car would be granted anonymity and would be referred to as Officer O throughout the proceedings.

Mr Colwell’s relatives were present at the hearing, including his 17 year-old son Jordan.

Mr Colwell’s oldest brother, Gary Colwell, told the court that his late brother, as the baby of the west Belfast family, was much loved and a “typical wee boy”.

“A few years before Steven was born we lost my little sister Amanda when she was killed in a road traffic accident,” he said.

“My parents were absolutely devastated. Then along came Steven and he was like a message from God. He was so special in our house.”

Mr Colwell told the court about an accident his brother suffered as a child, which left him with brain damage.

He said he had been hit on the head with a brick and needed a six-hour operation to remove pieces of skull from his brain.

He added that his family still found it hard to come to terms with his death.

“It’s been a hard battle. It’s been really hard,” he said.

The inquest continues.