North Yorkshire Police officer handed suspended sentence after crashing unmarked vehicle into car containing two elderly women

A North Yorkshire police officer has been given a suspended prison sentence after her unmarked vehicle crashed into a car containing two elderly women as she responded to an emergency call in Harrogate.

Detective Constable Quita Passmore was handed a suspended sentence by a judge at Bradford Crown Court

A jury at Bradford Crown Court found Detective Constable Quita Passmore guilty on two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving over the collision which happened at the junction of Otley Road and Cold Bath Road on the night of May 5, 2018.

The 38-year-old officer had activated her blue lights and sirens in response to an emergency call from a female colleague, but as she drove through a red light at about 50mph she crashed into a Vauxhall Corsa - severely injuring the two women occupants.

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The collision was the subject of an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and in late 2019 the officer was charged with the two allegations of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

DC Passmore had denied the charges, but following the trial, which began last week, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on February 3.

In a prepared statement from DC Passmore during the investigation said she thought it was “unlikely” that another vehicle would emerge from the junction because a colleague had gone through the junction seconds before.

But Judge Colin Burn said on February 4 that the officer’s split second reasoning that other drivers would have been put on alert that some kind of “police convoy” was coming through was clearly flawed and her driving had been “inevitably dangerous”.

In a letter which she intended to be sent to the victims DC Passmore said she could not express how sorry she was and hoped that in time the victims would be able to forgive her.

The court heard the two women had suffered permanent long-lasting physical and psychological damage.

Barrister Adam King, for DC Passmore, described her as a dedicated officer who had received commendations for her work.

“She is all about helping the public,” he said.

Mr King said the last three years had been a nightmare for his client and she had taken the decision herself never to drive on blue lights again.

Judge Burn sentenced DC Passmore to 10 months in prison, but he suspended the sentence for two years.

She was also banned from driving for two years, ordered to take an extended re-test and told to pay £1,800 in court costs within the next six months.

“You are a detective with significant meritous service and you’re highly thought of by a number of officers of some seniority and indeed I have also heard in the trial a testimonial from the chief constable of your force,” said Judge Burn.

“I have to say that (your) remorse would have been better demonstrated by an admission of guilt in this case, but of course you are entitled, as is everybody, whether they be a member of the police service or a member of the public to a trial on the more serious offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.”

The judge said it would have been the easiest thing in the world for the officer to have slowed down for a few seconds and few yards and then continue making rapid progress further down the straight Otley Road that night.

Judge Burn said it was not in the public interest, other than in the most exceptional circumstances which didn’t apply here, to send emergency responders, particularly one with such service, into custody for driving offences committed under blue lights and sirens.