Po­lice col­li­sion ver­dict ‘dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend’

Po­lice group re­sponds to damn­ing county court ver­dict

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - by Michael DeFroand mde­froand@thek­m­group.co.uk

THE po­lice of­fi­cers’ union has hit back at a county court judg­ment which placed all the blame for a crash which killed a young mother on the of­fi­cer driv­ing a speed­ing pa­trol car.

Last week Judge Jonathan Simp­kiss con­cluded that Kent Po­lice were wholly li­able over the death of 29year-old Wood­church bar­maid Rachel Cheesewright.

The po­lice Skoda, which was an­swer­ing an emer­gency call, smashed into her Ford Fi­esta on the A28 at Bethers­den in Oc­to­ber 2005.

Sit­ting at Can­ter­bury county court, the judge found that the pa­trol car driver PC William Purse was “100 per cent” to blame be­cause he did not have the siren sound­ing and had come around a bend too fast.

How­ever, re­spond­ing to the judge’s find­ings, a state­ment from Kent Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion said the judg­ment “flies in the face of all pre­vi­ous detailed ex­am­i­na­tions of the facts and has im­pli­ca­tions for all emer­gency ser­vices.”

Ian Poin­ton, chair­man of the Kent Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion said: “On the night in ques­tion, Con­sta­ble Purse, an ad­vanced po­lice driver, was re­spond­ing to an emer­gency call in a ve­hi­cle equipped to do so.

“In re­al­ity, Miss Cheesewright pulled from a side road onto the main A28 into the path of a po­lice ve­hi­cle dis­play­ing head­lights and blue lights. It was dark and th­ese would have been clearly vis­i­ble.


“Con­se­quently, with nearly 24 years of polic­ing ex­pe­ri­ence I find it dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend how Con­sta­ble Purse is wholly li­able.”

He added: “The In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Com­plaints Com­mis­sion, the Crown Prose­cu­tion Ser­vice and the in­quest have all con­cluded this was a tragic ac­ci­dent and that Con­sta­ble Purse was not at fault.

“I am per­plexed that the county court has pro­duced a judg­ment so at odds with th­ese oth­ers.

“This judg­ment, con­trary to com­ments made by the Cheesewright fam­ily’s so­lic­i­tor has im­pli­ca­tions for all the emer­gency ser­vices and not just the po­lice.

“When mem­bers of the pub­lic call for ur­gent as­sis­tance, whether that is fire, am­bu­lance or po­lice, they ex­pect a speedy re­sponse; if you’re hav­ing a heart at­tack you want the am­bu­lance there quickly.

“I sin­cerely hope this judg­ment won’t re­sult in emer­gency ve­hi­cles keep­ing to the speed lim­its lest some­one pulls out in front of them.”

He con­cluded: “I fully un­der­stand the de­sire to find some­one to blame and my thoughts are with both the Cheesewright fam­ily and the of­fi­cers in­volved in this tragic ac­ci­dent.”

Rachel Cheesewright died when her car was hit by a po­lice ve­hi­cle an­swer­ing an emer­gency call

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