Mystery of why soldier rode away from Hackney police at over twice the speed limit

Philip Scott at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.

Philip Scott at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire. - Credit: Archant

Police were not chasing a motorcyclist who died instantly when he crashed in Hackney while riding at over twice the 30mph speed limit, a jury has ruled.

Philip Michael Scott was speeding on his Kawasaki bike up Kingsland Road on August 7 last year when he passed officers in an unmarked police car, who decided to “have a word” with him about his speed.

It is unclear whether the 23-year old soldier, known as Scotty, saw the car’s blue lights and sirens as they tried to pull him over, but he jumped a red traffic light and sped off up the road, disappearing out of sight “almost instantaneously”.

Two junctions ahead, the rifleman from the 1 Rifles Battalion clipped the front of a car coming from the opposite direction, whose driver had not seen him coming.

Mr Scott, of Glyn Road, Lower Clapton, was flung 14m in the air, dying instantly of multiple injuries when he hit a lamppost.

The car’s three passengers were shocked but unharmed, while a pedestrian was injured by flying debris.

The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to find out whether the two officers in the police car had been engaged in a pursuit, which would have contravened Met policy for an unmarked car.

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But St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard this week that passenger DC Henry Childe had radioed through requesting marked cars to intercept Mr Scott.

CCTV footage showed DS Lee McCullough, who was driving, had travelled at 40mph at most up Kingsland Road, not keeping up with Mr Scott who was travelling an average of 64mph in the 39 metres before his accident.

Instead of tailing him in a two-second distance, which would technically define a “pursuit”, the officers arrived at the scene of the accident 24 seconds later.

Accident investigator PC Adrian Cousins told the court he had no idea whether Mr Scott had seen the police car before he sped off, but could see no reason why Mr Scott would not have stopped as he had valid insurance and a driving licence and had not been drinking.

He added: “I’m satisfied that if he had been travelling at the speed limit the Honda would have cleared the lane, eliminating the accident altogether.”

Mr Scott’s mother, Siobhan Grehan, a head teacher, argued her son, a motorbike enthusiast, could have been “stunned” by the lights and sirens, and called for unmarked police cars to remain undercover and not to get involved with traffic issues.

She said: “If it had been a marked car he would have seen that, had the blue lights not gone on, had it been a marked car, he would have reacted differently.”

But Coroner Elizabeth Hassell dismissed her call for a review of police policy.

She said: “I ask myself what I would do if I was faced with an inquest touching a person involved with a motorcycle driving at excessive speed – as Philip was – and the police hadn’t attempted to intercept in any way.”

“In that situation I would be very critical and I would say, “Why didn’t you put on your blue lights and ask him to pull over?”

“Even if they are engaged in other duties they do have a responsibility when they see things like this.

“They didn’t do what must have been tempting, they didn’t pursue, but they radioed ahead and asked for assistance. I can’t find fault with what they did.”

The jury returned a narrative verdict, saying it was unclear whether Mr Scott had seen the police car, the police car had followed him but not entered into pursuit, and that he had died because of the excessive speed he was driving.