Fatal crash police officer convicted of causing death by careless driving
A police officer who travelled at speeds up to 110mph before crashing into another car en route to a back-up call has been convicted of causing death by careless driving.
Experienced West Mercia Police constable Jamie Holloway, a qualified advanced driver and trained firearms officer, went into the rear of David Shaw’s Ford Fiesta at 2.51pm on May 28 2018, a bank holiday.
PC Holloway, 50 and an officer since 2002, was cleared by a Worcester Crown Court jury on Wednesday of the most serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
But he was convicted on a majority decision of causing death by careless driving after ‘rear-ending’ Mr Shaw’s car, causing it to flip twice and land on its roof on the opposite carriageway.
PC Holloway sobbed and placed his head in his hands as the verdict was read by the jury foreman.
There was confusion in court with PC Holloway initially led to believe he had been cleared of any wrong-doing, after the foreman replied “not guilty” to the death by dangerous driving charge.
However, the judge – who has discretion in law to allow a jury to correct its decision in certain circumstances – took the foreman’s verdict a second time, after jurors raised the fact there had been a misunderstanding.
At the second time of asking, the foreman stated the jury had cleared PC Holloway of one charge but also found him guilty of causing death by careless driving.
At the end of the hearing, Judge Nicolas Cartwright told the defendant: “I am genuinely sorry that happened.”
Mr Shaw, who had been in a queue of traffic travelling at 37mph, was signalling and moving right as he was struck by PC Holloway’s unmarked BMW X5, which was on blue lights and sirens and travelling well above the road’s 50mph speed limit.
A collision investigator calculated the police 4×4’s brakes were applied 1.5 seconds, or 60 metres, before the crash, when it was travelling at 103mph.
At the point of impact, the police vehicle was doing 75mph, after heavy braking.
Opening the case, Duncan Atkinson QC said the road went from a single lane to two lanes immediately at the point the crash happened on the busy A449 main road near the village of Acton, halfway between Worcester and Kidderminster, Worcestershire.
The Crown’s barrister said that, preceding the two-lane section, the BMW had been keeping right, where it was driving over a section of road painted with hatched markings to show right-hand turn only junctions “to overtake the queue that included David Shaw”.
Mr Atkinson said that as the road once again became two lanes, 53-year-old Mr Shaw “indicated right and started to move to the right”.
PC Holloway, who was in the car with a colleague, crashed while responding to a call for back-up from other police officers dealing with a man who had been making suicide threats and had a “tendency towards violence”.
Mr Atkinson said: “The prosecution case is this was obviously excessive speed for the road and more particularly for the traffic conditions on the road at the time.
“As David Shaw started his manoeuvre, the BMW X5 crossing the hatched mark area and right-hand turn junctions started to brake.
“But such was its speed, the BMW X5 stood no chance of avoiding Mr Shaw’s Fiesta, or a chance of slowing to a safer speed let alone stopping before it struck him.
“Because of the speed of the BMW, when it stuck Mr Shaw’s Fiesta it propelled his car forward and sideways, across the central reservation and on to the carriageway on the other side.
“As it did so, Mr Shaw’s Fiesta rolled over, became airborne, rotated on its end and rolled again before ending up on its roof.
“Mr Shaw suffered catastrophic injuries and later died, on June 10.”
Mr Atkinson said PC Holloway later told investigators he “considered there to be an immediate risk to life”, and “therefore believed his driving was necessary and proportionate”.
Mr Atkinson said there was force guidance about when officers should drive above the speed limit, which read they “should only have done so following a clear decision of necessity, proportionality and circumstances existing at the time”.
PC Holloway was bailed to appear back at the same court for sentencing on September 23.