Met officer cleared over moped rider's death during Stoke Newington chase
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
A police officer has been acquitted of causing the death of moped rider Lewis Johnson during a high-speed chase through Stoke Newington.
PC Paul Summerson, 44, was prosecuted over the three-minute pursuit of Lewis Johnson, 18, and his pillion passenger Louis Kyriacou, 19 which took place in 2016.
PC Summerson’s trial at Kingston Crown Court, which started on Monday (October 4) and ended on Tuesday (October 12), followed an Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation.
He was found not guilty at Kingston Crown Court on Tuesday of one count of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The police believed Mr Johnson and his passenger were involved in a “smash and grab” theft on February 9, 2016, before the chase.
The court heard that PC Summerson chased Mr Johnson and his passenger in a marked police BMW, reaching speeds of more than 50mph, along Stoke Newington High Street and Stamford Hill before reaching Clapton Common road where the collision happened.
At the junction, Mr Johnson swerved left to drive alongside a white van before colliding with the van and striking a pole, causing him and his passenger to fall off the moped.
The IOPC's investigation also showed that as the moped was undertaking the van it clipped the wing mirror and ricocheted into a lamp-post.
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PC Summerson simultaneously drove on the right-hand side of the van with his lights and sirens on.
His lawyers said the defendant was not to blame for the van driver moving to the left and colliding with Mr Johnson.
Mr Johnson died from his injuries and Mr Kyriacou was left seriously hurt.
During his trial, PC Summerson said he was “devastated by these tragic events” and insisted that he had been driving safely and had kept a two-second gap behind the moped.
PC Summerson previously stated that he had been keeping a gap between his car and the moped, that road conditions were light and traffic was less than normal during the chase.
He said he remained close to protect the moped through “protective bubbling”, a process where the police officer uses their sirens and lights to ensure other road users can see the chase and get out of the way.
His trial previously heard several statements from PC Summerson’s colleagues and friends – who referred to him as hardworking, professional, and dedicated to his job.
The jury returned its not guilty verdict after deliberating for one hour and 20 minutes.
PC Summerson, of Alexander Court, Colchester, had no previous convictions and a clean driver’s licence, the court heard.
Following the verdict, Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “We are pleased that PC Paul Summerson has rightly been found not guilty of the charges inexplicably brought against him over this incident.
“Police officers have no issue with being held accountable for their actions – we are the most accountable of public services.
"We need those in the criminal justice system making decisions potentially affecting our colleague’s livelihoods and liberty to have some understanding of the environment we work in and the reality of policing London.”
He added: “It’s utterly absurd that this case ever made it to court. Let us emphasise again that PC Summerson was doing his job … a job that he has been trained to do.”
A spokesperson for the Met Police said that PC Summerson had remained a police officer since the incident but with limited duty.
Now that a not-guilty verdict had been reached, the force would consider whether any further internal action needed to be taken.
The IOPC added that its investigation which preceded the trial found "a case to answer for gross misconduct against PC Summerson and two police sergeants – one a driver of another vehicle involved in the pursuit, the other working in the control room – for potentially breaching police professional standards."
Following its investigation which concluded on May 2017, the IOPC asked the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider charges against the officer.
The CPS decided to take no further action but following a judicial review, the decision was overturned and PC Summerson was charged.
The IOPC reports that an inquest into Mr Johnson’s death has yet to be arranged.