Dorothy ‘Cherry’ Groce inquest finds police failures contributed to her death

Police failures contributed to the death of a mother whose shooting by an officer triggered the 1985 Brixton riots, an inquest jury has found.

Dorothy Groce, known as Cherry, was wounded and paralysed by armed police who were searching for her son in a planned raid at her home in south London.

A jury at Southwark coroner’s court found that police failed to communicate properly during the hunt for Michael Groce and to adequately check who was living at the address before the raid.

The jury returned their verdict on Thursday, the third day of deliberations, following six days of evidence.

Groce died 26 years after the shooting in 2011, aged 63, from kidney failure, which a pathologist directly linked to the gunshot injury.

Her shooting by a Metropolitan police inspector, Douglas Lovelock, sparked two days of unrest during which shops were looted and petrol bombs thrown in the south London neighbourhood.

Lovelock stood trial in 1987 charged with inflicting unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm, and was acquitted. Meanwhile, Groce spent nearly three decades in a wheelchair and was susceptible to debilitating illness.

Lovelock, who admitted being responsible for the wound, told the inquest he had apprehensions about going on the job.

The jury concluded: “Dorothy Groce was shot by police during a planned, forced entry raid at her home, and her subsequent death was contributed to by failures in the planning and implementation of the raid.”

The jury found there were eight failures in total made by police. These included failures to properly brief officers that Michael Groce was no longer wanted by police. They also failed to adequately check who lived at the property, including women and children, and to carry out adequate observations on the house.

Officers should have called off the raid entirely during a police briefing but failed to do so, the jury found. However, they found there was no failure by police to call off the raid once it had begun

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