Experts Say Met Needs a Shoot to Wound Policy; Devoted Wife: Liz Clarke Returned Home to Find the Square Cordoned Off

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 19, 2008 | Go to article overview

Experts Say Met Needs a Shoot to Wound Policy; Devoted Wife: Liz Clarke Returned Home to Find the Square Cordoned Off


Byline: ROBERT MENDICK, KIRAN RANDHAWA, JUSTIN DAVENPORT

THE barrister who was shot dead by police at his [pounds sterling]2.2 million Chelseaflat after a fivehour siege rarely drank and never rowed with his wife, hisclosest neighbour has told the Evening Standard.

The comments will serve to fuel the mystery over just what pushed MarkSaunders, 32, a respected divorce lawyer, over the edge on the day he beganfiring a shotgun from the windows of his home in Markham Square.

Until now, reports have suggested that Mr Saunders was an unstable alcoholic,possibly taking anti-depressants, whose short marriage to fellow divorcebarrister Liz Clarke, 40, was in difficulty.

A Standard investigation also raises questions for the police over a"shoot-to-incapacitate" policy that one expert said left the barrister littlechance of surviving.

One firearms expert said it was time the Met explored a new policy in armedstandoffs that would allow trained snipers in certain situations to wound agunman before capturing him. He said the Chelsea siege could have been one ofthose occasions.

Mr Saunders's funeral was led by Ms Clarke at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford,on Friday. Some mourners and friends there were wondering why more attemptswere not made to capture him alive.

The Standard has reconstructed events on Tuesday 6 May. We have also obtainedfloorplans of the couple's flat at 46 Markham Square, spread over three floors,all of which suggests he was killed at his kitchen window as he took pot-shotsat police marksmen positioned in houses 50 feet away.

Fearing their lives were in danger, nine officers shot back. One source likenedit to the "shoot-out at the OK Corral".

Mr Saunders was hit by at least five bullets, which caused severe damage to hisbrain, heart, liver and the main vein of his lower body.

We can also reveal: Police were under orders to prevent Mr Saunders leaving theflat at all costs, fearing he would embark on a killing spree in the nearbyKing's Road.

He was almost certainly using standard "birdshot" shotgun pellets which reducesthe threat he posed to the lives of police.

Officers, however, feared he might have possessed further weapons obtainedduring a stint in the Territorial Army.

Sources close to the family have been deeply upset by suggestions made abouthis drinking and the state of his marriage.

Alastair Laidlaw, 54, who lives in the flat below the couple, said: "They movedin last September and I never heard a cross word spoken above me.

I never heard a raised voice. They were clearly devoted to each other.

"I would have known if he was a drunk. They put their rubbish out and there wasnever any excessive amount of bottles of alcohol. I never saw him drunk." MrLaidlaw, a French teacher at City of London school, said the couple would leavefor work together every morning at about 6.45 and return in the evening.

He believesbut is not certainthey followed the same morning routine on the day Mr Saunders died, driving totheir chambers at Queen Elizabeth Building in Temple where they were members.

A senior family lawyer stressed there was no evidence that Mr Saunders had adrinking problem. The lawyer said: "Family law is a very small world andLondon's top family lawyers all know who is going through a drinking problem.There were none of these rumours with regards to Mark.

"He had a very significant caseload, he was very well liked and there were nowarning signs. If he was an alcoholic, solicitors would not have given himwork." Two weeks ago, Mr Saunders and his wife took part in a chambers socialevent. Nobody noticed anything untoward. In March, the couple had hosted a 40thbirthday party for Ms Clarkeagain friends detected no sign of strain in the 20- month marriage.

Ms Clarke could be key in explaining his transformation from serious barristerwith earnings hovering around the [pounds sterling]250,000 mark, to an apparently "crazed"gunman. …

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