Met Police marksman charged with Chris Kaba murder named for the first time as judge lifts anonymity order

8 March 2024, 09:57 | Updated: 8 March 2024, 10:47

Chris Kaba was shot dead in Streatham Hill in London in 2022
Chris Kaba was shot dead in Streatham Hill in London in 2022. Picture: Alamy

By Fraser Knight

The Met Police marksman charged with the murder of 24 year-old Chris Kaba, can be named publicly for the first time after a judge lifted an order protecting his anonymity.

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In a move the media argued in court as being important for open justice, the police firearms officer charged with the murder of Mr Kaba has been named as Martyn Blake.

Chris Kaba, an unarmed black man, was shot dead in a vehicle in Streatham Hill, south London, on 5 September 2022.

During his arraignment today, the police marksman, aged 40, pleaded not guilty.

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Chris Kaba died after he was shot once in the head
Chris Kaba died after he was shot once in the head. Picture: Handout

After six months of considering the evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to charge Mr Blake with murder.

During a previous hearing at the Central Criminal Court, Patrick Gibbs KC, who is defending Blake through his murder charge, had argued his identity should be kept secret to protect against threats to his life and his wider family.

But in October, several media organisations challenged the decision to keep NX121 anonymous, arguing it would set a precedent which could exacerbate a decline of public trust in the justice system.

At the time, Jude Bunting, representing the media, told the judge: “I have been unable to find any murder trial in any crown court in this country where the defendant has been anonymised.

Nick Ferrari reads out the name of the officer charged with murdering Chris Kaba

“In this case an officer of the state has been charged with the murder of a citizen and your lordship knows that in this case there may be a suggestion in the community of a cover up.

“It has been a long-standing complaint of families of people who have died in police custody… that while the occurrence may cause concern and shock, families feel that shock is very quickly replaced with defensiveness. Specifically in the case of young, black men.”

The charging of Mr Blake in September caused a lot of concern among other firearms officers - with many of them choosing to hand in their weapons and step back to reflect on their duties.

Other UK forces had to help fill positions in the Metropolitan Police, while the Army was put on standby to help with counter terrorism operations.

Concerns were raised by Mr Bunting that the move, and suggestions of further walkouts if NX121 was named, could be seen as an attempt to influence the court.

But the judge said he wouldn’t be persuaded by outside forces when making a decision on the officer’s anonymity.

Mark Lucraft KC, who is the recorder of London, said: “I have a hard skin. I’m not expecting anything I do to meet the approval of the press one way or another.

“I make the decisions made on legal principles, nothing else. I am in no way swayed by what is on social media or elsewhere.”

Blake is due to face trial in the autumn and is on bail.

Rick Prior, Acting Chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "The Metropolitan Police Federation and the colleagues we represent are hugely shocked, saddened and concerned over the decision to name the firearms officer involved in this incident.

“We still await the results of the Home Office's "accountability review" into operational policing but it goes without saying that our police officers must have full confidence that they have the protection needed to do this difficult and dangerous job society expects of them.

"Being a firearms officer in London is one of the world’s toughest jobs. Officers, who volunteer for the role, know the responsibility and accountability that comes with it. It is a job like no other and they need fairness when it comes to scrutiny.

“As a Federation, we can reassure our members that we continue to support the officer and his family at this difficult time; and will work to mitigate any risks this decision from the courts might bring.

"We also continue to provide support to those brave colleagues who willingly undertake this challenging firearms role every day to keep Londoners safe."

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