October 23 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
A police officer has described the moment he desperately tried to stop a man from shooting himself in a Norfolk hotel car park.
PC Jonathan Miller screamed “stop, stop, stop” as suspected conman Stewart Page put a shotgun to his own forehead in the car park of Briarfields Hotel in Titchwell. The Hunstanton-based officer had just arrested Mr Page on suspicion of £4,000 of credit card fraud at the north-west Norfolk hotel on November 11, 2012.
But his pleas came too late as Mr Page, from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, pulled the trigger before the officer could wrestle the gun away from him.
PC Miller described the incident at an inquest into Mr Page’s death at Norfolk Coroner’s Court, in Norwich, yesterday.
The fatal incident took place at around 2pm after a police hunt for Mr Page was sparked by a missing persons appeal.
The inquest heard that fears for the 60-year-old’s safety were raised at around 7pm the previous night by staff at the Hoste Arms, in Burnham Market, where Mr Page had been staying. PC Simon Leys told the hearing that staff had described Mr Page’s behaviour as “strange” after he left his room unlocked and strewn with belongings.
He had also made off with a Toyota Verso hire car, according to PC Leys.
Checks with local hospitals were made and when no sign of Mr Page could be found, a missing person’s report was made.
Officers were able to contact his ex-wife the following morning. The couple divorced in May 2012.
She told them that Mr Page was terminally ill, had been behaving unusually and was in a “desperate state”.
PC Miller said: “His wife told us he had throat cancer previously and had come out of remission. He was suffering and in pain.”
Inquiries with Lincolnshire Police revealed Mr Page had been arrested for “financial issues” weeks before, according to PC Miller.
He was tracked down at Briarfields after his car was spotted by PCSO Leslie James.
PC Miller went to the hotel to find Mr Page having a drink with PCSO James. He asked about his welfare and Mr Page insisted he was fine and had no desire to hurt himself.
He then went with PC Miller to the Hoste Arms to find he had a £500 oustanding bill.
The officer said he became suspicious when he saw two credit cards had been registered in the name of Mr Page’s ex-wife.
PC Miller and Mr Page returned to Briarfields, and when PC Miller confronted him, Mr Page admitted he had fraudulently drawn out around £4,000 on the cards.
It was then the officer arrested Mr Page, before performing a search of the car and clearing it of belongings. Mr Page sat in the back seat, without handcuffs on.
Having placed the two bags of belongings in the back of his police car, PC Miller then turned to see Mr Page kneeling on the ground, with a “long-barreled weapon” against his head and his fingers around the trigger.
“I said ‘stop, stop, stop, Stewart’.
“With it not being a short barreled weapon, I tried to close the gap to kick it away. I took two steps towards him while I was shouting, but he deployed the weapon. A single shot,” he said.
When asked by coroner Jacqueline Lake, PC Miller said he had no reason to believe Mr Page was going to harm himself. He said handcuffs were not necessary at that point as Mr Page was “too weak” from his illness to run away.
The inquest continues today.