MPS driver cleared over death of moped rider during chase

An officer from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has been cleared of causing the death of a teenage moped rider during a high-speed chase.

Oct 12, 2021
By Tony Thompson

Police Constable Paul Summerson, 44, stood trial on charges of one count of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The charges related to the pursuit of 18-year-old Lewis Johnson and his pillion passenger Louis Kyriacou, 19, through Stoke Newington, North London, on the morning of February 9, 2016.

Police were initially called to the area following reports of a theft — the latest in a spate of street muggings by moped riders. Mr Johnson’s moped was spotted in nearby Stamford Road half an hour later and officers launched a pursuit when it failed to stop.

PC Summerson, driving a marked police BMW, chased Mr Johnson and his passengers at speeds of more than 50mph along Stoke Newington High Street. At the junction of Clapton Common Road, Mr Johnson swerved left to drive alongside a white van before colliding with the van and striking a pole.

Mr Johnson died from his injuries and Mr Kyriacou was left seriously hurt.

During his trial, PC Summerson said he devastated by the incident and insisted that he had been driving safely, keeping a two-second gap behind the moped.

The jury returned its not guilty verdict after deliberating for one hour and 20 minutes.

Ken Marsh, chair 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.”

“The public rightly expect trained and skilled police officers to pursue criminals. The public want us to respond to emergencies. Those officers should not then be prosecuted and risk going to jail for doing their job.

“Emergency services colleagues across the country – including thousands of police officers – would have been watching the verdict of this case with interest. Its outcome could have had huge ramifications for their everyday roles.

“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.”

“We should also note the excruciating amount of time that PC Summerson has been under investigation around this incident – since 2016. For five years he has unfairly had a cloud hanging over him. Today’s result means our colleague can put this incident behind him with an unblemished character. And we are proud to have supported him throughout the legal process. We ask that he and his family are now left alone to get on with their lives.”

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