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Archive - Friday, 9 December 2011
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Met Police 'contributed' to teenager's fatal high speed crash
Metropolitan Police officers refused to hand over potential photographic evidence to Surrey officers investigating a fatal high-speed police chase, it has been claimed.
Liam Albert, 17, died after the Mazda he was driving hit another car in Esher
Official documents reveal an extraordinary stand-off between the two forces over the mobile phone picture, which was later destroyed.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been asked to investigate after complaints from the Mitcham family of Liam Albert, who died in the smash.
The revelation came after an inquest into the death of the teenager, who had driven a stolen blue Mazda from Merton down the A3 at speeds of up to 118mph, before crashing in Lammas Lane, Esher, on July 8, 2009.
Although the death was accidental, the Met made “a material contribution” to his death, 12 jury members at Woking Coroner’s Court ruled on December 2.
Met Police ' contributed' to teenager's fatal high speed crash
A Met spokesman declined to comment on the investigation but said: “Any loss of a loved one is a tragic event and the Metropolitan Police would like to express its sympathy to the Albert family.
“Since 2010 the Met has reviewed its pursuit guidance and is in the process of implementing a number of changes to improve communication and training.”
Police should have halted the chase by PC Paul Rogers, who was driving, and PC John Wills, of car-mad Mr Albert 2.7km earlier, the jury inquest concluded.
Mr Albert finally smashed into a silver Daewoo at about 4.50am, injuring two passengers, and died in Kingston Hospital eight days later.
Surrey coroner Richard Travers also made a series of recommendations about training and radio reception to police under powers given to prevent further deaths.
In a statement, the teenager’s parents, Sharla John and Delroy Albert, of Vectis Road, Mitcham, said: “Words cannot express how grateful we are about the outcome and although this decision will not bring Liam back, we believe that if this decision results in changes to the Metropolitan Police training and communication methods and practices when conducting pursuits, then at least something positive has come out of the tragic loss of our son, Liam.”
Andre Clovis, of Tuckers Solicitors, described the jury’s verdict as a “devastating indictment” of the Met.
He said: “The jury’s verdict brings to an end a two-and-a-half year wait for Liam’s family to discover the full circumstances of his death.
“My clients are very grateful that such a strong statement has been made about the failings and inadequacies of the police.
“I hope the commissioner will take this on board and quickly put in place safe practices before there is another avoidable fatality.”
The jury decided police methods on pursuits were inadequate, communication between the police car and the command incident room were insufficient, and the risk assessment of the pursuit had been ineffective.
However, documents submitted to the inquest reveal that after the crash several Surrey Police officers tried to retrieve PC Rogers’ mobile phone to see pictures he had taken of the crash but were refused by PC Rogers and Met Detective Inspector Mandy Chamberlain, it has been claimed.
Met officers left the scene after refusing to hand over the phone and were pursued to Esher police station by Surrey officers to try again to seize the phone, it was said.
In a statement seen by the Surrey Comet, Detective Sergeant Deborah Crouch said: “I explained that the deletion of the photos from the phone could potentially be viewed as attempting to pervert the course of justice, and that it was important any investigation was seen to be thorough, fair, open and transparent, as well as actually being so.
"She [D Insp Chamberlain] agreed, but stated that she was still not willing to allow the phones to be secured.”
In his statement, PC Rogers, said he took four photographs of the two cars before being breathalysed.
He said: “It was shortly after this that I was asked to hand over my phones to Surrey Police officers and consequently these photographs were deleted from my phone.”
D Insp Chamberlain said the photo had been deleted to comply with a request by a Surrey officer at the scene.
Of the row at Esher police station, she said: “Unless Rogers was being accused of an offence there was no power to seize the phone."
The family’s solicitor Mr Clovis said: “Police officers are not above the law.
"This was a serious step for a police officer to take and others to support.
"Were a member of the public to do such a thing, I strongly suspect they would be arrested for obstruction and or their phone simply taken, by force if necessary.
"If a driver or passenger directly involved in the crash, destroyed images or footage, issues of attempting to pervert the course of justice may arise.
"My clients are very concerned, and have lodged formal complaints with the Independent Police Complaints Commission."