PCs failed to help pair killed in car chase - hearing

Two Metropolitan Police officers did not "check even briefly" on a woman and child killed by a car during a police pursuit in south-east London, a misconduct panel has heard.

PC Edward Welch and former PC Jack Keher were chasing a stolen Ford Focus in Penge when the driver lost control and mounted the pavement, striking a group of pedestrians and killing child actor Makayah McDermott, 10, and his aunt Rozanne Cooper, 34.

Another child sustained major injuries in the collision on 31 August 2016.

PC Welch was cleared over the deaths following a trial at the Old Bailey in December 2022.

The hearing heard the officer had reached speeds of more than 60mph (100 km/h) during the six-minute pursuit of Joshua Dobby.

It is alleged both officers committed gross misconduct by leaving the injured pedestrians to chase Dobby on foot and "failing in their duty to protect life and limb".

They are also accused of not accurately assessing and communicating the risks to Met Command and Control (MetCC), the force's control room.

Mr Keher, who was in the passenger seat, is further accused of not challenging PC Welch's driving.

PC Welch is accused of failing to assess if continuing the chase was proportional, and not ensuring Mr Keher provided MetCC with accurate information.

In 2017, Dobby was jailed for 12 years after he was convicted of two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Scene at fatal car crash, follwoing a high speed police chase
The car was being pursued by police at the time of the collision [BBC]

The misconduct hearing heard at the end of the car chase, Dobby exited the vehicle and PC Welch radioed "I need ambulance, it's a decamp. He's decamped", said Gerry Boyle KC, representing the Met.

Mr Boyle said Mr Keher then said: "Control he's decamped, he's hit members of the public."

But the officers did not administer first aid to the victims or help the bystanders who stepped in, Mr Boyle said.

'Failure to check'

He told the panel: "It was either he (PC Welch) knew that there had been an impact with members of the public but set off in pursuit of the driver, or he had reason to suspect that the Ford had collided with members of the public at the end of the pursuit.

"Why would he then say 'I need an ambulance'? Even if he didn't hear his colleague say 'he's hit members of the public'.

"There is a failure of him to check, even briefly, if somebody had been hurt."

PC Welch was the first to accelerate at the start of the pursuit after he spotted the stolen Ford Focus, Mr Boyle said.

It had triggered an ANPR camera but was driving normally, he added.

The officers told MetCC the vehicle had been taken using keys days earlier and that they suspected Dobby had also stolen petrol, the hearing heard.

But Mr Boyle alleged the chase "was obviously disproportionate to the nature of the underlying offence".

'Considerable speed'

Police dashcam footage shown to the panel featured the police car hurtling through residential streets and through a busy high street.

The footage included a speedometer that showed the cars travelling at more than double the speed limit at times.

The officers did not tell MetCC that the Ford Focus drove through a no entry sign, left past a no left turn sign, the wrong way down a one-way street at "considerable speed", and over multiple roundabouts "at high speed", Mr Boyle said.

MetCC responded "can you just confirm your actions are proportionate with the offences?"

To which Mr Keher said: "Yes, yes, at this time, due to low risk."

Mr Boyle said: "He (PC Welch) obviously failed to accurately report the level of risk to MetCC and, or, failed to ensure that Mr Keher accurately reported the level of risk."

He said a vehicle taking off from police "could be involved in armed robbery, terrorism, drugs, human trafficking" but "there was no intelligence linking this vehicle with anything".

Mr Boyle added: "All the officers had at that time was that this is a stolen car."

Mr Keher has chosen to not be involved in the proceedings at Palestra House, Southwark, and has made no written submissions.

Both PC Welch and Mr Keher deny the allegations.

At the Old Bailey in December 2022 PC Welch was cleared of two charges of causing death by dangerous driving, one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and an alternative charge of dangerous driving over the incident.

The hearing continues.

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