James Ashley's shooting sparked repercussions which are still being felt three years later and led to the suspension of Sussex's chief constable.

In this report we take a step-by-step look at the shooting which rocked the county.

JANUARY 1998: Mr Ashley is identified as a target for police hunting a gang of drug dealers. A report established Mr Ashley, a suspected drug dealer from Liverpool, and his associates were holed-up in flats in St Leonards. The police intelligence suggested they were muscling in on the local drug action and they may be in possession of a kilogramme of cocaine.

Thursday, January 15:

A group of Sussex Police officers from the special operations unit gather in preparation for a raid on a flat in Western Road, Hastings, with the aim of making arrests in connection with drugs and firearms offences and an attempted murder. They want to talk to Mr Ashley about drugs dealing and the stabbing of a man outside a St Leonards pub the week before.

4am, January 15:

Armed officers storm the building. Mr Ashley, 39, is shot dead by PC Christopher Sherwood. Mr Ashley, who was naked and had been in bed with his 18-year-old girlfriend Caroline Courtland-Smith, was killed by a single bullet which hit his collarbone and bounced into his heart. Attempts were made to revive him but he died at the scene. It was the first time a Sussex Police officer had killed a man while on an operation. The same day, a report of the shooting is sent to the Police Complaints Authority and Barbara Wilding, Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police, was appointed head of the official inquiry into the shooting.

January 23:

The Police Complaint Authority confirms no firearms were found in Mr Ashley's home despite a detailed search of his flat by forensic experts. The complaints authority said an air pistol was discovered in another room in the flat as well as a small amount of cannabis.

FEBRUARY 1998: Mr Ashley is buried in his home town of Liverpool. An inquest is opened into his death. The hearing is adjourned until March 25, to give the Police Complaints Authority time to complete its investigation.

February 20:

A Sussex Police officer is suspended from duty in connection with the shooting. The authority refuses to name the officer.

MARCH 1998: The resumed inquest into Ashley's death is adjourned until May 27. Kent Police say investigations into the shooting should also be complete by May.

MAY 1998: Three more officers are suspended following continuing investigations by the Police Complaints Authority.

There are currently a superintendent and two inspectors suspended on full pay and it is anticipated that a fourth officer, a constable, will also be suspended. It is believed the suspensions relate to the planning of the swoop on Mr Ashley's flat rather than the raid itself.

JULY 1998: The Police Complaints Authority announces that Mr Ashley had nothing to do with the stabbing outside a St Leonards pub, which happened a week before he was shot and killed.

The PCA is still to decide whether the suspended police officers should face prosecution. It is announced Hampshire Chief Constable, Sir John Hoddinott, will head a new investigation into the shooting.

It is understood part of his brief will be to examine the role of Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse after the shooting.

Mr Whitehouse backs his officers saying he is confident the use of firearms was justified. An inquest into Ashley's death is adjourned until September 23.

DECEMBER 1998: Sussex Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse announces he is prepared to resign amid allegations that he misled the public after the shooting.

JANUARY 1999: Reports from Hampshire and Kent police into the shooting are examined by the Police Complaints Authority.

Kent Police looks at the actions of five officers directly involved in the shooting, while Hampshire looks at Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse and senior officers. Chairman Ken Bodfish requests a group of PCA members to scrutinise background material.

FEBRUARY 1999: Deputy Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Mark Jordan, is suspended by the Police Complaints Authority after it considers the report by Kent Police into the shooting. Ken Bodfish, chairman of the Sussex Police Authority, says: "The suspension relates to events prior to the shooting and is about the most serious step the authority could take. Clearly this is a very serious matter."

MARCH 1999: Sussex Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse is formally suspended from duty in the wake of reports into the shooting. The Sussex Police Authority was split down the middle on its decision to call for his suspension. The vote was 9-8 after an eight-hour meeting. Together with Deputy Chief Constable Mark Jordan, he could face disciplinary proceedings.

The reports show the raid was carried out on poor or inadequate intelligence, which suggested that Ashley, a suspected drugs dealer from Liverpool, and his associates were holed-up in the flat. The police intelligence reports suggested the gang were muscling in on the local drugs action and they may have been in possession of cocaine. The key intelligence report suggested Ashley and his colleague, Thomas McCrudden, would be armed. McCrudden was not in the building and Ashley was not armed.

APRIL 1999: Police chief Paul Whitehouse is reinstated. PC Chris Sherwood is charged with murder and manslaughter. Four other officers are charged with misfeasance, or misconduct in public office, including Supt Chris Burton, 42, Acting Det Inspector Kevin French, 46, Detective Inspector Christopher Paul Siggs, 40, and PC Robert Shoesmith, 37. All five are suspended from duty pending trial.

MARCH 2001: The five officers deny all charges at the Old Bailey in London.

APRIL 2001: PC Robert Shoesmith, 38, is cleared of misconduct in public office in connection with the shooting. The prosecution offers no evidence and a formal verdict of not guilty is entered by Mrs Justice Rafferty at the Old Bailey.

MAY 2001: PC Christopher Sherwood is acquitted of unlawfully killing Mr Ashley at the Old Bailey after a judge directed a jury to return a not guilty verdict. The trial judge ruled there was no evidence the shot was fired by PC Sherwood in anything but lawful self-defence.

Tuesday, May 22:

Supt Christopher Burton, Acting Chief Insp Kevin French and Det Insp Christopher Siggs, formally acquitted of misconduct.