The inquest into the death of Idi Abdullah Atiba, who died on 24 January 2011 of a single gunshot wound to his chest, has concluded at Dunstable Coroner’s Court today.
For almost 16 hours prior to his death Mr Atiba had been contained by armed officers of Bedfordshire Police on Leagrove Common, Luton in what has been described as the most significant incident of this nature for Bedfordshire Police in a 16 year long period. The Coroner directed the jury that they could not return a verdict of suicide because the evidence heard in the course of the three day inquest did not support that. The jury heard from firearms officers and negotiators who felt certain that the discharge of the gun was accidental.
Mr Atiba’s mother, Rosemary O’Garrow, his sister, Rosalee Noel and brother Gregory O’Garrow were represented at the inquest to raise their significant concern that the commanding officers did not give proper consideration to using Rosemary or other family members as intermediaries, or to use them to obtain information about Mr Atiba which might have been used to bring matters to a peaceful conclusion. They also raised concerns about the communications equipment used at the scene, and access to psychological advice.
The jury’s verdict was that Mr Atiba died of a self inflicted gun shot wound to the chest. They also agreed that there should be “increased resources directed at intelligence gathering; structures and equipment; the use of psychological/psychiatric assistance; and the potential use of third party intermediaries; to run concurrent to the containment strategy”.
The coroner said that he wanted to consider whether or not a Rule 43 letter was appropriate. That is a formal letter written where a coroner believes that the evidence heard in an inquest gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, and that action should be taken to prevent the occurrence or continuation of such circumstances, or to eliminate or reduce the risk of death created by such circumstances.
Mr Atiba’s family paid tribute to him today. Rosemary O’Garrow said:
“People, and indeed the police, may see Idi as just a man with a gun who may harm others. Yes Idi had his domestic issues, but he was a human being, a hurting human being who was having difficulty dealing with issues in his life. Idi was also a good big brother who took his role seriously and will be sorely missed.
We as a family are so disappointed that we did not have an opportunity to be part of the negotiation process. We believe that at some point in those 16 hours we should have been allowed to let him know we were there for him and if we had been able to do that, he may not have died.
My advice to other hurting young men having difficulties is to speak to your family. You may think your family may not understand or care but usually that’s not the case. Faith in God is very helpful. I am so grateful to my Church family, family and legal professionals and Inquest, who have all helped us.”
Notes for editors:
Beth Handley, Hickman & Rose solicitors: 07812 974 624
Inquest: 0207 263 1111 (speak to Hannah Ward)