'Gangster' shot by own gun, coroner rules

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Arran Coghlan (above) was "in fear for his safety, if not his life", a coroner said

A businessman "was acting reasonably to defend himself" when a suspected gangster was killed with his own gun during a fight, a coroner has ruled.

Stephen "Aki" Akinyemi died after he was shot in the head during a fight with businessman Arran Coghlan in 2010.

At the Royal Courts of Justice in London a coroner ruled Mr Coghlan's actions at his Cheshire home were "necessary and reasonable".

Bernard Richmond QC delivered a narrative conclusion in the case.

Mr Richmond rejected conclusions of accidental death, misadventure and either lawful or unlawful killing.

He said Mr Coghlan, 45, acted because he "was in fear for his safety, if not his life".

The court heard Mr Coghlan met Mr Akinyemi in an attempt to defuse a feud the latter had with another man called Phil Atkinson, in which both shared the same nickname and "had Porsches with the number plate 'Aki'".

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Image caption,
Mr Akinyemi died after a fight at Arran Coghlan's home in Cheshire

Mr Coghlan said he recalled Mr Akinyemi had ordered him to ring Mr Atkinson, before the fight broke out, on 9 February, 2010.

Mr Coghlan told the hearing he hit the 44-year-old security worker, who "went straight down" before getting "up in a flash", the court heard.

'Stabbing me'

He then grabbed Mr Akinyemi by the head and neck and they fell on the floor with Mr Akinyemi looking like a "bucking bronco" during the fight.

Mr Coghlan told the inquest Mr Akinyemi hit him with a flurry of punches but he had actually produced a knife and instead "was stabbing me".

"In that melee the gun has gone off. All I know is that he stopped stabbing me and fell away," said Mr Coghlan.

"I ended up with the gun in my hand aiming it at him while he was on the floor."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
An inquest into the death of Stephen Akinyemi was held at London's Royal Courts of Justice

Mr Coghlan said he could not see where Mr Akinyemi had been shot as the room was dark.

Delivering his conclusion, Mr Richmond told the court: "Stephen Akinyemi, in an attempt to coerce a third party into a course of action, produced a gun to reinforce his demand.

"During the struggle for control of the gun, in which the third party was acting reasonably to defend himself, the gun - which was at all times held by Mr Akinyemi and whose finger was on the trigger, was discharged four times.

"One of those discharges caused a bullet to go into Stephen Akinyemi's head, fatally wounding him."

'Difficult journey'

Mr Richmond said it was "highly significant" Mr Coghlan chose to broker the deal at his home as he was satisfied he would never have invited his friend to the house had he suspected he was carrying a weapon or intended violence.

After the ruling, Mr Coghlan's lawyer David Mason QC addressed the coroner, saying his client had been through a "long and difficult journey".

Mr Coghlan was initially accused of murdering Mr Akinyemi, but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charge because it could not prove he was not acting in self-defence.

It was the third time he had been cleared of murder, after cases in 1996 and 2001.

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