Naming murder accused Met marksman poses no immediate risk to life, judge rules

A police marksman charged with murdering Chris Kaba will be publicly named next year after a judge ruled that doing so posed no immediate risk to the officer’s life.

Recorder of London Mark Lucraft KC ruled on Monday that the Metropolitan Police officer’s name and date of birth can be reported on January 30, allowing three months for mitigating measures to be put in place.

His home address or any image of him cannot be published.

Mr Kaba, 24, died when he was shot through the windscreen of a car in Streatham Hill, south-east London, on September 6 last year.

The officer who fired the shot was charged with murder in September this year, but so far his name has not been publicly released while legal hearings took place.

In a ruling at the Old Bailey on Monday, Judge Lucraft said he had viewed “raw underlying intelligence material” before coming to the conclusion there was not a “real and immediate risk” to the life of the defendant or to his family.

There was “significant information about a threat” to the officer in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the judge found, but any risks in lifting the anonymity order could be addressed in various way to “ameliorate or mitigate them”, he said.

He went on: “If NX121 is named, there is a risk that some may seek to obtain more details about him and to make threats to him or his family.

Chris Kaba death
Chris Kaba (Inquest/PA)

“However, in my judgment the naming the defendant or in giving his date of birth does not give rise to a real and immediate risk to his life.

“In contrast, in my judgment the lifting of all aspects of his identity might give rise to such risks, and so the order of this court will not permit the address of the defendant to be given in court.

“Secondly, the order will continue to prohibit any photographs, drawing, image or detailed description to be reported for the same reason as the address.”

On the three-month delay, Judge Lucraft said: “Not only should that period of time cater for consideration of any pre-trial issues but it should also cater for the imposition of any additional mitigating measures to be put in place or implemented by those responsible for dealing with NX121 before the first name or names, surname and date of birth of NX121 are able to be released.

“As any trial will not be before the summer of 2024, I do not see that this should cause any other concerns.”

Central Criminal Court
The ruling comes following a hearing at the Old Bailey (Nick Ansell/PA)

A plea and trial preparation hearing is due to take place on December 1, with a trial potentially starting on September 9 next year.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said in a statement: “I recognise that for officers this decision will be hugely concerning, and that the impact of this and recent cases is felt right across armed policing and beyond.

“The Met has supported the anonymity hearing by providing evidence and factual information to His Honour Judge Lucraft KC to assist him in making a decision.

“We take seriously the Open Justice principle, however it was important to make the court aware of the effect that loss of anonymity would have in this case.

“We acknowledge the judgment by the court and note the detailed and careful consideration that has taken place.”

Members of Mr Kaba’s family sat in court as Judge Lucraft made his ruling.

Afterwards, they issued a statement thanking the court for “working in the public interest of open justice”.

They said: “We must be allowed to know the name of the man who shot and killed our much loved son, brother and fiancé.

“We hope the court will now be allowed to do its job without further disruption or delay.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for armed policing, Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, said: “Whilst we respect the decision of the court, we also recognise the impact and concern this will have on all officers, but in particular armed officers nationally.

“We will reflect upon the implications this has for policing.“

Steve Hartshorn, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales that represents thousands of rank and file officers, said: “PFEW is seriously concerned and bitterly disappointed about the potential ramifications of publishing the officer’s name and date of birth in January 2024.

“We know that this concern is shared by many officers of all ranks and roles across the country, but more so in the world of armed policing as they understand the threat and risk taken in the protection of the public more so than others.”