Police officer ‘trying to protect the public’ when he chased joyrider who crashed into two people

Police officer was ‘trying to protect the public’ when he chased joyrider who crashed and killed two pedestrians: PC denies causing death by dangerous driving after child actor and aunt died

  • Edward Welch denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving in 2016
  • Two people died after he pursued joyrider Joshua Dobby who crashed stolen car 
  • The vehicle mounted the pavement and killed Rozanne Cooper and her nephew 

A Met Police officer told a court he was trying to protect the public when he chased a joyrider who crashed into two pedestrians, killing them both.

PC Edward Welch, 34, was pursuing Joshua Dobby, who was driving 60mph down a 20mph road in a stolen a Ford Focus in Penge, southeast London, on 31 August 2016.

Dobby, then 23, lost control of the vehicle which mounted the pavement and crushed to death Rozanne Cooper, 34 and her child actor nephew Makayah Dermott, 10.

A third child was also involved in the crash and sustained serious injuries.

PC Edward Welch (pictured) told a court he was trying to protect the public when he chased a joyrider that crashed and killed a woman and her 10-year-old nephew, a court heard today

PC Edward Welch (pictured) told a court he was trying to protect the public when he chased a joyrider that crashed and killed a woman and her 10-year-old nephew, a court heard today

Joshua Dobby, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and causing serious injury by dangerous driving in February 2017

Joshua Dobby, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and causing serious injury by dangerous driving in February 2017

Dobby was convicted of two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and causing serious injury by dangerous driving in February 2017, the Old Bailey has heard.

PC Welch told jurors how he used his lights and sirens to ‘alert members of the public, pedestrians and other road users as to what was going on.’

Defending Welch, Patrick Gibbs, KC, asked the officer: ‘What about the visibility of the subject vehicle, are you intending to communicate anything to the subject?’

‘Yes,’ replied the officer.

‘What would that be?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘That it’s a clear audible and visual sign that you have a marked vehicle behind you and to stop.’

‘It’s a sign to everyone around you that this is going on and to be aware and to be alert’ PC Welch replied.

‘Apart from your lights and siren what do the public have to warn them of his approach?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘Nothing,’ replied PC Welch.

Makayah McDermott, 10, was killed when then 23-year-old Joshua Dobby ploughed into him following a police chase in Penge, south-east London in August 2016

Rozanne Cooper, 34, was killed when then 23-year-old Joshua Dobby ploughed into him following a police chase in Penge, south-east London in August 2016

Makayah McDermott, 10, (left) and Rozanne Cooper, 34, (right) were killed when then 23-year-old Joshua Dobby ploughed into him following a police chase in Penge, south-east London in August 2016

‘Do you notice in real time, any other cars on the road responding to your lights and sirens?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘Yes’ replied Welch.

‘What did you notice them to be doing?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘It was a positive reaction people slowing, moving to the side,’ PC Welch replied.

‘We can obviously all see it on the footage but what I’m asking is at the time did you notice the cars stopping and pulling to the side?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘Yes’ replied PC Welch.

‘And what about pedestrians… were you aware in real time of the pedestrian responding to your lights and sirens?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘Yes’ replied PC Welch.

‘In what way?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘Eye contact looking at the vehicle or [looking at the] subject vehicle, stopping,’ replied PC Welch.

‘You’re distanced behind the Focus, its different distance at different times, separation is measured in seconds… what considerations were you having to take into account about how close or how far to be within the focus?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘It’s a very difficult balance of being too close or too far’ replied PC Welch.

‘What are your considerations?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘Being too close which would put pressure on the [subject] vehicle’ replied PC Welch.

‘As opposed to?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘Being too far away’ replied PC Welch.

‘If you are too far away what is the problem with that?’ asked Mr Gibbs.

‘The point of the pursuit is to protect the subject as well as the pedestrians, if I’m too far back I’m not going to be clearly audible or visible to the vehicle that has been made a hazard at the time’ said PC Welch.

Mr Gibbs then asked: ‘So how do you strike that balance?’

‘It’s a very delicate balance….it’s a very fast moving fluid dynamic, it’s such a broad range,’ replied PC Welch.

Shortly before he died Makayah had appeared in an Asda advert and had just landed a leading role in a major new television series when he was killed.

He also appeared in a production of Wizard of Oz with his sisters.

PC Welch, of Chatham, Kent, denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and one of dangerous driving on 31 August 2016.

The trial continues.

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