Police officer who chased after stolen Ford Focus not responsible for two fatalities hit by joyrider

Police officer, 34, who chased after a stolen Ford Focus at up to three times the speed limit is not responsible for the deaths of 10-year-old boy and his aunt who were hit by the joyrider, court hears

  • PC Edward Welch, 34, chased joyrider who was in stolen Ford Focus at 60mph
  • Joshua Dobby, then 23, hit Rozanne Cooper, 34, and Makayah McDermott, 10
  • Another child, 13, was also hit and seriously injured in smash in Penge, London
  • Welch denies causing death by dangerous driving in the high speed chase

A police officer is not responsible for the deaths of an aspiring child actor and his aunt while chasing a joyrider at up to three times the speed limit, a court heard today.

PC Edward Welch, 34, chased after Joshua Dobby the wrong way down one way streets, across junctions, and at up to 60mph in a 20mph zone in the six minute pursuit on August 31 2016.

Dobby lost control of the stolen Ford Focus, mounted the pavement and hit a bollard before ploughing into Rozanne Cooper, 34, and her 10-year-old nephew Makayah McDermott.

A third child, aged 13, was also hit and seriously injured in the horrific smash in Penge, southeast London

Welch denies causing death by dangerous driving in the high speed chase.  

In February 2017, Welch was convicted of two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and causing serious injury by dangerous driving. 

PC Edward Welch (pictured) is not responsible for the deaths while chasing Dobby at up to three times the speed limit, a court heard today

PC Edward Welch (pictured) is not responsible for the deaths while chasing Dobby at up to three times the speed limit, a court heard today

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

Roseanne Cooper, 34, (pictured) was also killed in the fatal collision. Jurors heard a third child, aged 13, was also hit and seriously injured in the horrific smash in Penge, southeast London

Makayah McDermott, 10, (left) and Roseanne 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

Welch’s defence lawyer Patrick Gibbs, KC, said: ‘There is no dispute that on 31 August 2016 in Leonard Road, Penge, Makayah McDermott died, Rozanne Cooper died, and that those terrible things happened when this stolen Ford Focus ran into them at speed.

‘It’s a dreadful story and it will be dreadful for you to have to think about it.

‘Who caused these deaths and those injuries is very much in dispute.

‘We will say in due cause that it is absolutely plain as day who caused this tragedy and who killed this family.

‘The answer, of course, is the man you won’t be hearing from- a man who is currently in prison for this crime.

‘You will hear, and we will suggest that that is the man who is solely responsible.

‘There is no dispute that Mr Dobby drove dangerously, and we will suggest he drove exceptionally dangerously in the manoeuvre that actually caused the death, what experts say was an insane handbrake turn.

‘The prosecution will say PC Welch also drove dangerously and that he was simply chasing Mr Dobby.

Dobby had performed a handbrake turn and this was the manoeuvre that caused the death, according to Welch’s defence lawyer Patrick Gibbs, KC

Dobby had performed a handbrake turn and this was the manoeuvre that caused the death, according to Welch’s defence lawyer Patrick Gibbs, KC

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC earlier said the Ford Focus had been stolen six days before the collision. Pictured: Police examining the Ford Focus after the fatal incident

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC earlier said the Ford Focus had been stolen six days before the collision. Pictured: Police examining the Ford Focus after the fatal incident

‘We will disagree and invite you to test that allegation, and invite you to asses whether any dangerous driving by PC Welch did cause these deaths.

‘Every stage of this drive and the footage will be broken down and pulled apart and analysed second by second, metre by metre like a referee checking for a handball at a football match.

‘But you and I will both need to go back to real time to understand what it’s like to be called upon as an advanced special response driver to do your job in this very difficult situation without the benefit of hindsight.’

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC earlier said the Ford Focus had been stolen six days before the collision by Dobby, who was then 23.

Joshua Dobby (pictured), then 23, was being chased by police as he drove at three times the speed limit, through red lights, and at more than 50mph the wrong way down a one-way street before he hit the family

Joshua Dobby (pictured), then 23, was being chased by police as he drove at three times the speed limit, through red lights, and at more than 50mph the wrong way down a one-way street before he hit the family

He said: ‘He had lost control of the car as he reached the junction with Lennard Road, crashed into a bollard and crushed the three victims under the car.

‘Remembering of course that PC Welch was a police officer, he was permitted to exceed the speed limit when that was necessary to the undertaking of his important role.

‘As a police officer he was also aware of instruction given to police officers as to the proper approach to a pursuit.

‘The Pursuit Standing Operating Procedure makes clear that: “pursuing officers have a duty of care to themselves, their colleagues, and members of the public. This includes the suspect.”

The pursuit lasted six minutes and Welch reached speeds of 60mph in a 20mph zone, the court heard.

They also travelled the wrong way down one way streets, ignored no right turn signs and sped across junctions at speeds of over 40mph.

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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