8 March 2019

Before HM Senior Coroner Mary Hassell
St Pancras Coroner’s Court
25 February to 8 March 2019

Onese Power suffered fatal injuries during a dangerous high-speed Metropolitan Police pursuit in Kentish Town, London on 17 August 1997. An inquest in February 1998 returned an ‘open verdict’, leaving the family with more questions than answers.

Today, a fresh inquest has concluded that Onese Power died in a Road Traffic Collision, with the jury finding the duration and intensity of the pursuit contributed to his death. In a narrative conclusion they also found that, once engaged in the pursuit, the required ongoing assessment of risk by police officers was inadequate, given the escalation of risk, especially from Pathsull Road onwards. They also found that this escalation was inadequately assessed by the pursuing officers and was not communicated to central command, meaning the pursuit continued.

Although the jury concluded that there was ‘insufficient evidence to determine if close proximity between the police car and Mr Power’s bike in Royal College Street was a contributory factor to the collision’, the evidence heard at the inquest made it clear that if the police had terminated the pursuit before Royal College Street, as the jury’s conclusion indicates, this death would have been prevented.

Onese was a 51 year old father of three, who lived and worked in Shepherds Bush, London. His family describe him as a loving, protective and supportive family man, who was well known and well liked in the neighbourhood.

The inquest heard evidence that Onese nearly came off his bike on several occasions when going over speed bumps on Pathsull Road prior to the collision. Additionally, the the police driver nearly knocked over a member of the public on a bicycle, but none of this was relayed back to the control room. In contrast to the original hearing, this inquest also heard evidence of Onese slowing down and a potential closing in of the pursuit car.

This jury was directed that Onese was likely to be doing a maximum speed of 59 miles per hour (mph) about 70 metres from the collision, braking very hard to slow down to probably 32mph. The 1998 jury was directed that at the same 70 metre point he was travelling at least 72mph, which gave a completely false picture of the final seconds of the pursuit.

In December 2017 the original inquest conclusion was quashed by the high court and this fresh inquest was ordered.  This came after the family spent over two decades battling for the truth, and with the assistance of a legal team funded by crowdjustice donations. Without legal funding at the original inquest, Onese’s widow, Ann Power, represented the family on her own. In contrast, an experienced barrister acted for the police at public expense.

Deficiencies in the first inquest included the police’s refusal to disclose witness statements to Ann Power, denying her the opportunity to properly question officers on their identical accounts of the pursuit and collision. At the original inquest there were also failures to investigate marks on the police car which could have been caused by the impact with the motor bike.  All these matters were fully explored at the second inquest.

Ann Power, the widow of Onese Power, said: “As far as I’m concerned, my husband was chased to his death. In the words of the police driver, ‘The intention was for it to stop, however that was gonna happen. I mean there was always the possibility that he would crash.’ Make of that what you will.”

Selen Cavcav, Senior INQUEST Caseworker, who has worked with the family said: “If it wasn’t for the determination and tireless efforts of this family, the file containing the police’s version of events of what happened would have continued to gather dust, never to be opened again. Twenty two years on, this inquest has provided the public an opportunity to scrutinise the circumstances of how Onese, who was described as a ‘coloured man’ by the police officer pursuing him, came to lose his life. These fresh findings highlight the importance of legal aid for bereaved families at inquests.”


For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay or Sarah Uncles on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected]; [email protected]  

INQUEST has been working with the family of Onese Power since 2014. The family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members, Daniel Machover of Hickman and Rose solicitors and Sean Horstead of Garden Court Chambers (and at the earlier High Court stage also by Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers).

The other interested persons represented at the inquest are the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis, and former police officer Stephen Collier who was the driver of the police car immediately pursuing Onese, and police officer Steven Heatley who was the passenger in the police car.

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