Northern Ireland

Colwell Inquest: Policewoman 'did not hear warning'

The BMW Steven Colwell was driving surrounded by police
Image caption Mr Colwell was driving a stolen car when he was shot in Ballynahinch

A police officer has been describing the moments leading up to the fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen car.

Steven Colwell, 23, originally from the Shankill area of Belfast, was shot dead by police on 16 April 2006.

He failed to stop at a checkpoint in Ballynahinch, County Down.

Four young men and two young women were in the silver BMW, which had been stolen earlier that morning during a burglary in Downpatrick.

At the inquest on Tuesday, the officer, known as officer Q, explained how she and two other officers had set up a checkpoint outside Ballynahinch police station following reports that a stolen BMW was heading in that direction.

Officer Q said she was acting as look-out on a footpath.

She was monitoring a line of slow-moving vehicles approaching the checkpoint when she spotted the stolen car some three car lengths away.

Image caption The BMW was stolen in Downpatrick earlier that morning.

She said that she shouted: "Oh my God, it's it!" Almost immediately, the BMW tried to manoeuvre to get away.

The policewoman said she could not remember if one of the other officers - known as Officer O - came running with his gun in his hand.

She described the noise of wheels spinning, an engine revving and the sound of a collision as the car tried to escape.

She told the inquest that she saw Officer O standing in front of the BMW with his gun drawn shouting: "Stop! Get out of the car!"

The other officer was also shouting for the occupants to get out.

The policewoman said she did not hear any verbal warning from Officer O that he was going to fire.

The inquest continues.

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