Gail Hadfield calls for officers to be 'brought to justice' over death of Anthony Grainger who was shot dead in stolen vehicle
The girlfriend of a man shot dead by police has called for officers to be "brought to justice" after no weapons were found in the car he was driving. Gail Hadfield insisted Anthony Grainger was a "dedicated father" who did not deserve to die.
Grainger, 36, died from a single shot to the chest as he was sitting in the driver's seat of a stolen car in Culcheth, Cheshire, on the evening of 3 March. The father of two and a number of his associates had been under police surveillance in the time leading up to his death, in what Greater Manchester Police described as a "pre-planned operation".
A forensic examination of the car in which Grainger was shot through the windscreen has now been completed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating his death. The search failed to find any firearms or weapons. None were found on Grainger.
Speaking to the Guardian, Hadfield claimed that, contrary to some media reports, Grainger was not known to the police as an armed robber.
"Anthony had a full-time job as a vehicle recovery driver for a well-established breakers' firm, dealing in damaged and repairable cars, also scrap cars, situated in Bury (Greater Manchester)," she said. "He didn't drink and was certainly not a party animal, he was a dedicated father."
She went on: "The car was stolen [but] it doesn't mean he knew it was ? or even if he did, is that a reason to lose a life?"
Helen Hadfield, Gail's sister, had lived with the couple in Bolton. The 18-year-old student told the Guardian that his death had shocked the family.
She said: "I was crying for his death but when I found out that police had shot him my stomach churned and I got a huge lump in my throat. Then I started crying even harder."
She went on: "Anthony was so lovely. He would take care of my sister's children while she worked nights, he would settle them into bed, feed them, cuddle them and care for them. I've never seen the kids take so fondly to anyone like they did to Anthony, not even to myself.
"For the first time in years I saw my sister genuinely happy. I never saw her upset when Anthony was around. She always had a smile on her face ? and you could see the love in her eyes. It felt like she'd finally found what she needed."
More than a dozen bouquets of flowers have been tied to railings in the corner of the car park where Grainger died. Among the messages is a card from Gail and her two children which said: "Anthony, you'll never be forgotten ? Heaven now has a good man. You'll be with me every day."
Grainger, who had a kidney transplant six years ago, had two children from a previous relationship. The children, aged three and nine, live with their grandmother in Cumbria. "Anthony got up at 5am every Saturday and went up to Cumbria to see his kids," Helen Hadfield said.
Although Grainger had no convictions for violent crimes, he had been known to police for more than 13 years. In 1998, he was driving a car in a high-speed chase during which Derek Ianson smashed his way through the rear window of the stolen BMW and attacked the pursuing patrol car with a spanner.
Ianson was on bail awaiting sentence for joyriding and ram-raiding charges when Grainger's brother Stuart killed him with a machine gun after a fight involving a meat cleaver. Stuart Grainger was jailed for life in 2001. In 2010, Grainger was accused of being connected with a plot to corrupt a drugs squad officer into selling confidential information.
But the multimillion-pound trial collapsed after it emerged that a juror had exchanged messages with a co-defendant. Grainger was later cleared of conspiracy to supply drugs but was jailed for 20 months after admitting handling stolen cars in connection with the case.
Grainger's mother, Marie Schofield-Ahmed, wants the officer who shot her son to face a murder charge if the investigation finds evidence of misconduct. She is also considering suing the police.
"I expect to get [the decision] that the police have murdered my son and if it comes to that conclusion I want the officer charged with murder and I want the other officers charged with conspiracy to murder ? that's what I hope and pray for," she said.
Naseem Malik, IPCC commissioner, said: "Mr Grainger's mother and partner ? are understandably devastated by what has happened to Mr Grainger and I appreciate they will have many questions they want answers to. We will endeavour to answer those questions through our independent investigation."
An inquest into Grainger's death has been opened and adjourned at Warrington coroner's court. Three men have been charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and will appear in court this month.