Police followed 21-year old driver at 120mph before fatal crash in Wakefield

Jamie Smith
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A 21-year-old driver who died in a crash in Wakefield while travelling at more than 120mph was being followed by police, a pre inquest review hearing was told.

A coroner said a jury inquest will be held into Jamie Smith's death after telling the hearing his father Paul Smith believes police "contributed to his death."

A floral tribute placed at the scene of the fatal crash.

A floral tribute placed at the scene of the fatal crash.

The hearing at Wakefield Coroner's Court was told police had been following for around two minutes when Jamie Smith lost control of the BMW.

Richard Manning solicitor, for Jamie Smith's family, said: "The police car (driver) says he was going at something like 126mph and wasn't gaining."

Mr Smith was thrown from the car after it hit a boulder and bollards on Black Road near the junction with Hell Lane at Heath Common in Wakefield just before 11.30pm on April 30 2018.

His 21-year-old male passenger suffered minor injuries.

The hearing yesterday (Aug 21) at Wakefield Coroner's Court was told police fround drugs in the car

An inquest opening Last May was told Mr Smith, of Cross Road, Middlestown, Wakefield, was being followed by two officers in a marked police BMW who had seen the BMW he was driving travelling at "high speed" towards Wakefield.

Officers followed the vehicle to try and speak to the driver, the inquest opening heard.

A preliminary cause of death was given as a head injury due to a road traffic collision.

Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin told the pre inquest review hearing that toxicology tests on Mr Smith were "entirely negative."

Mr Manning told the hearing: "The family do not believe that Jamie was in possession of drugs."

Oliver Thorne, barrister for the chief constable said: "On everybody's view of these matters, there hasn't been a requirement to stop."

Mr Manning said: "If he (the police driver) hadn't come chasing after him, causing the deceased to speed up, would this accident have happened?"

He added: "This police car for some reason does not have it's flashing lights on, clearly one is going to be asking why not?"

Mr Manning said: "The submission I will be making is if a police car is chasing you at 120mph, how can you say that is not a pursuit?"

Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin said: "I do think the function of an inquest, in part , s to allay suspicion and rumour.

"Given the feelings deeply held that police contributed to his son's death and the way he is concerned about the way police handled matters, I feel that I want to demonstrate transparency.

"It's important for me to have a completely impartial audience to hear the evidence so I will sit with a jury."

The incident has been referred to West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards department.

The five-day jury inquest is due to start on January 20 2020.