Inquest opens into death of Portishead man shot by police firearms’ officer

PUBLISHED: 08:36 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:47 19 October 2017

The Portbury Hundred was closed for many hours after the shooting. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The Portbury Hundred was closed for many hours after the shooting. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

An inquest has opened into the death of a man who was fatally shot by armed police on the Portbury Hundred last month.

Forensics teams captured on the scene back in September.. Picture: Claire Hayhurst/PA WireForensics teams captured on the scene back in September.. Picture: Claire Hayhurst/PA Wire

Spencer Ashworth, aged 29, was shot by Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s firearms officers on September 27 amid reports he had a handgun and had threatened another motorist.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Ashworth died from gunshot injuries, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) previously said.

MORE: Police reveal details of man killed near Portishead.

Maria Voisin, senior coroner for Avon, opened and adjourned an inquest into Mr Ashworth’s death during a short hearing at Avon Coroners’ Court in Flax Bourton yesterday (Wednesday).

She said: “This is a case where I believe that the IPCC are taking the lead in investigating.

“I will liaise directly through you (a coroner’s officer) with the IPCC to direct anything I consider as necessary for the investigation, but they will be taking the lead.”

MORE: Appeal for witnesses to come forward after Portbury Hundred death.

Ms Voisin set a review date for the case of January 24.

The inquest heard Mr Ashworth, a single man who worked as a courier, was originally from Southampton.

His death was confirmed on the Portbury Hundred at 9.52am by a doctor.

Mr Ashworth’s mother, Yvonne Maunder, identified his body in the mortuary which is on the same site as the coroners’ court.

A post-mortem examination has taken place but the results of toxicology tests are not yet known.

The inquest heard Mr Ashworth was of no fixed abode but his last known address was in Portishead, Somerset.

Mr Ashworth’s family did not attend the short hearing.

About an hour before the shooting, West Mercia Police received reports of a man pointing a gun at another motorist near junction 8 of the M5.

Police stopped Mr Ashworth’s vehicle, a red Suzuki Swift, on the Portbury Hundred near junction 19 of the M5.

Shots are believed to have been fired by four authorised firearms officers, the IPCC previously said.

What appeared to be a non-police issue firearm was found at the scene.

There were at least four bullet holes in the off-side of the vehicle and the driver’s side front window was smashed.

Blood and glass, as well as a sun hat, could be seen on the floor by the hatchback.

Witnesses told how police shot into the car a number of times before pulling a man out and attempting to resuscitate him.

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