Anorak News | Mark Saunders: What The Police Negotiator Told Him

Mark Saunders: What The Police Negotiator Told Him

by | 23rd, September 2010

MARK Saunders: a look at the inquest into the death of the barrister shot 11 times by seven police officers at his Chelsea home in Markham on May 6, 2008, at the end of a five-hour siege. Mr Saunders was armed with a legally-owned shotgun.

Did the police need a helicopter and bright lights? Did they help or did they antagonise?

The Marksman

Officer AZ 15 was armed with a Glock 17 self-loading pistol. He was in a bedroom in Bywater Street. Says he:

“Upon entering the room, I noticed straight away that the window had damage, and it appeared to be either birdshot or pellets from a shotgun. I made it clear to the occupants of the address to stay in the hallway and positioned myself to the left-hand side of the window.

“I could see he was carrying a long-barrelled weapon. Initially it was facing towards the ground. At the point where I noticed he was carrying the weapon, it was levelled in the direction of the area I was in and a shot was discharged towards my direction.”

The people in the property then walked into the room. The cop fires two shots – neither hit Mr Saunders.

Having been told the police would not hurt him did Mr Saunders see the armed officer and panic? If Mr Saunders is only a danger to himself why train a gun on him? Shoot him before her shoots himself?

Who was in charge of the police?

Det Ch Insp Steve Wagstaff, who was in charge of the negotiating teams, said it put “a lot of pressure on” when Gold Commander Ali Dizaei came to the scene.

Says he:

“Gold should’ve kept back.”

Gold was run by Metropolitan Police Commander Ali Dizaei. Right now he’s in four-year jail term for corruption. More on that here.

Steve Wagstaff says things were “a bit chaotic to say the least”.

He adds that Mr Saunders was “very, very very drunk”.

The Technology

PA: “The inquest has also been told how negotiators had been impeded by a power cut at their temporary operations base, a disconnected landline and the noise of the helicopter hovering overhead.”

The Final Moments

Supt John Sutherland, who carried out most of the negotiations, said the shot came after Mr Saunders said it would be ‘painless’ to die.

The footage also showed Mr Saunders holding up notes, including, ‘Please, I want to speak to my wife’ and ‘I want to say goodbye. Kill myself’.
At about 9.31pm, he brought the shotgun out of the window and waved it in the air as police shouted ‘put the gun down’ through a loud hailer.

One minute later, Mr Saunders, slowly lowered the barrel before being hit in the head and chest by five police shots.

Elizabeth Saunders

Mark Saunders’ wife wanted to speak with her husband.

Chief negotiator, Superintendent John Sutherland told the inquest that it would have been a “very bad idea”.

He said: “If their stated intention is to say goodbye to somebody, that to me as a trained negotiator is a sign that they want to do so as an immediate precursor to taking their life.

“The fact that he wanted to say goodbye, to me, meant that it was a very bad idea to introduce Mrs Saunders or anybody else he wanted to speak to for that purpose.”

What The Negotiator, Supt Sutherland, Told Mr Saunders

“I don’t want you to come out and fire one barrel. I don’t want you to take a barrel in the face. Nobody here means you any harm. Nobody here wants you to come to any harm…

“You are not going to burst out and you are not going to get gunned down. Nobody is going to get hurt today. That is the deal…

“You are in the driving seat and when you come out of the front door you can talk it through…

“You get to see and meet the people you love and love you. That is what is going to happen when you come out. This is all about beginnings and not about endings. You have got a future, Mark. It might not be the one you necessarily planned but it is a good one…

“You haven’t hurt anyone and haven’t caused anyone any harm, you haven’t wished anyone ill or malice.

“You are a gentleman, that is the bottom line. You just happen to be a gentleman who needs a helping hand today.” Supt Sutherland went on: “You are not going to hurt yourself today, Mark. You are not resigned to killing yourself.

“There is too much to live for, beginning with Liz and then the list goes on. How can we help you? How can it possibly be painless if you shoot yourself? It will cause her agony and I know how much you love her.

“You can do an enormous amount of good and I believe in the good in people.”


6.57pm – Senior negotiator Superintendent John Sutherland starts to call Mr Saunders’ mobile and landline as he tries to persuade the family law expert to speak to him.

7.08pm – Contact with Mr Saunders is made for the first time via his mobile. He is clearly very drunk and complains of being scared armed police will come into his home. A helicopter beams live footage to officers.

7.16pm – Mr Saunders is urged not to pick up the shotgun moments before he is repeatedly and violently sick.

7.23pm – Mr Sutherland tells the gunman he is not going to die as Mr Saunders is filmed leaning on his closed fourth-floor kitchen sash window.

7.30pm – The gunman tells police he is reloading his shotgun. He asks to speak to his wife and complains he is “terrible with booze”.

7.38pm – Police try and call Mr Saunders back to get a better connection. The phone line is repeatedly broken during negotiations.

7.40pm – Mr Sutherland passes negotiations to his colleague Inspector Sonia Davis as he goes to the toilet.

7.51pm – Mr Saunders is filmed holding an illegible note to his window. He holds several more as the evening progresses. Mr Sutherland resumes his role.

8pm – Senior officers hold a key tactical meeting, known as a “silver” group.

8.08pm – After losing Mr Saunders on the phone, police negotiators hold a discussion about his volatile condition, their tactics and the danger of him being shot by police.

8.32pm – Mr Saunders dials 999 and tells a perplexed call handler he is the “guy in Markham Square” and wants to speak to a “hostage negotiator”.

8.33pm – Mr Sutherland resumes negotiations, telling the gunman “something strange” happened to the telephone.
The men speak at length about how the gunman is a “good guy”, who loves his wife and does not want to “die today”.

8.55pm – Mr Saunders apparently becomes more incoherent, saying he will be “gunned down” before falling down the stairs as music blares in the background.

Around 9.08pm – Mr Saunders says it will be “painless” if he shoots himself before adding he needs to “blow off some steam”.

9.09pm – Mr Saunders fires his shotgun through the kitchen window. Two officers return fire. No one is injured.

9.10pm onwards – Mr Saunders does not speak to negotiators by telephone, but the line is left open.

9.15pm – Mr Saunders, now illuminated by a helicopter spotlight, can be seen shouting at officers on police footage. Mrs Davis takes over on the telephone, but he does not respond.

9.20pm – Mr Saunders opens the smashed window and leans out. He sits on the ledge, holding a telephone handset in one hand. He leans backwards and looks upwards.

9.26pm – The barrister can be heard groaning and shouting he cannot hear police officers. He may be holding a shotgun in the hand left trailing inside.

9.31pm – Mr Saunders begins waving the shotgun vertically out of the window, A police officer can be heard shouting “put the gun down” through a loud hailer.

9.32pm – The gunman slowly lowers the gun from vertical to horizontal. He is shot dead as it aligns with officers on surrounding buildings.


Picture 5 of 6

Charlotte Saunders, sister of Mark Saunders, arrives at Westminster Coroner's Court for the inquest into the death of her brother who was killed by at least five bullets fired by marksmen who surrounded his London home.

Posted: 23rd, September 2010 | In: Reviews Comments (3) | TrackBack | Permalink