8 January 2019

This media release was prepared by Broudie Jackson Canter.

Before HM Senior Coroner Mr Andre Rebello OBE
Liverpool Coroner’s Court
6 to 8 January 2020

Tony was 70 years old when tragically he was hit by a Merseyside Police vehicle on Christmas day 2018.  He was a much loved uncle, brother and friend.  He had spent Christmas Day laughing, joking and being surrounded by his family and friends.

Tony was a pedestrian, walking home on Scotland Road, Liverpool when he was struck and killed by a police vehicle at approximately 6.48pm.  The police vehicle was travelling at 60mph in response to an emergency call at the time of the collision. 

The inquest was held before a jury over three days at the Gerard Majella Courthouse. Following deliberations, the jury concluded that Tony died of multiple injuries following a Road Traffic Collision. 

Tony’s inquest explored the following issues:

  • The circumstances leading up to the collision
  • The nature of the emergency call that the police were responding to
  • The actions of the police officers within the police vehicle
  • The speed of the police vehicle
  • If the collision could have been avoided
  • The emergency response

Live evidence was heard from the driver of the police vehicle, the pathologist, the police collision investigator, as well as an emergency call handler who was not personally involved in the incident. The jury also heard read evidence from numerous members of the public who witnessed the incident, paramedics who responded to the incident, and other police officers. In addition, CCTV footage from a Newsagents directly across from the scene of the incident was played for the jury which shows the moment of the collision.

The Coroner made a Prevention of Future Deaths Report which will be sent to the National Police Council with regards to the public’s awareness of emergency vehicles being able to exceed the prescribed speed limit by any amount, and if more effort needs to be made to inform the public. He will also be writing to the Council in relation to police car sirens, as both police officers in this case thought that the sirens had been active, as well as the blue lights when in fact the sirens were not on at the time of the collision. The Coroner considered that thought should be given as to whether there should be some internal indication in the vehicle to indicate when they are active.

Tony’s Family said: “We are absolutely devastated by Tony’s loss, especially in such traumatic circumstances. We know that nothing can bring him back, and that we may never get answers to all of our questions. As a family though we want to know that this kind of tragedy does not befall another family in the future.

It is important that the public are aware of the laws for police responding to emergency events. In this case the sirens were not on, but there is no requirement for these or the emergency lights to be activated when responding to an emergency. In addition, the police are allowed to exceed the speed limit and drive at any speed the driver determines is necessary in the circumstances. We think that is a very dangerous combination, as a police vehicle may be driving at excess speed but with no requirement that a visual or auditory warning is given to pedestrians and other road users.

In the past there were laws limiting by how much a police officer could exceed the prescribed speed limit, but these have been lifted. As a family the best outcome from this terrible situation is for the public to be more informed about the laws, and to consider if a change in the law and policy needs to be made.

We want to thank Alice Stevens, Anna Morris, and Charlotte Halsted for guiding and supporting us through this difficult process. If we had not been legally represented this already distressing time would have been much more trying. We also want to thank the Coroner, Mr Rebello, for treating Tony’s memory with such respect by having a minute of silence for him.”

Alice Stevens of Broudie Jackson Canter Solicitors said: “Tony’s family have been extremely dignified whilst waiting for more than a year for answers following Tony’s death. It is deeply concerning that Tony, a pedestrian, lost his life in these circumstances.  It is clearly important that police cars exceeding the speed limit, whilst responding to emergency calls, do so in a way that ensures the safety of the public.  This inquest has raised questions about police policy in relation to the speed of police cars, use of sirens and blue lights.  I am pleased that the Coroner has recognised changes may need to be made to better inform the public and ensure safety mechanisms such as sirens are properly activated when required.”

Remy Mohamed, caseworker at INQUEST said: “Road traffic fatalities involving the police are at a decade high. This undoubtedly raises questions about whether the unrestricted speed limits for police vehicles are being used responsibly and with consideration to the safety of the wider public. This inquest has shown that policy and practice around its use must be reviewed.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

For further information and to note your interest, please contact INQUEST Communications Team: 020 7263 1111 or [email protected]; sarahun[email protected]

Or contact the team at Broudie Jackson Canter via Alice Stevens, Inquests & Inquiries Solicitor on 0151 282 1700 or Sophie O’Hanlon, Marketing Executive on 0151 282 1700, [email protected]

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Alice Stevens and Charlotte Halstead of Broudie Jackson Canter Solicitors and Anna Morris of Garden Court North Chambers. The family are supported by INQUEST caseworker, Remy Mohamed.  Other Interested persons represented are Merseyside Police.

The latest statistics on deaths involving police from the IOPC show in 2018-19 there were 42 road traffic fatalities, an increase of 13 on last year and the highest figure in the past decade; 30 of the deaths were from police pursuit-related incidents, an increase of 13 from last year; five fatalities resulted from emergency response incidents, a decrease of three from last year. 

Makayah McDermott, 10, and Rozanne Cooper, 34, were also pedestrians who in a road traffic incident involving police, in this case during pursuit, on 31 August 2016. The inquest into their deaths concluded in June 2019, finding their deaths were ‘unlawful killing’ and identifying numerous failures by the Metropolitan Police. Learn more about this case and others in this Guardian long read (July 2019) about deaths involving police vehicles.