Death-charge Pc's driving 'was an accident waiting to happen'

A police officer's driving was described as "an accident waiting to happen" after a court was told how he knocked down and killed a man while travelling as fast as 75mph in a 30mph zone.

Pc David Allen, 35, who is accused of causing death by dangerous driving, was responding to an emergency call when he hit Ian Hambrey, 49.

Mr Hambrey was walking home after a night out in Mexborough, South Yorkshire.

The 49-year-old victim was hit by the Ford Focus patrol car on Doncaster Road, Denaby Main, near Doncaster, in March last year, a jury heard yesterday.

Leeds Crown Court was told the officer and a colleague were responding to reports of a 13-year-old boy being unconscious from drinking cider when the collision with Mr Hambrey took place at 2.38am.

The force of the impact scattered some of Mr Hambrey's possessions across the carriageway, including his phone and a training shoe.

The police car came to a stop as it hit a lamppost.

Mr Hambrey, who worked as a machinist at a plastics factory, was given emergency first-aid at the scene by officers. He was taken to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.

The jury was told Allen had activated the car's flashing lights, but no sirens were being sounded.

Mr Hambrey, a divorced father-of-two who lived with his mother, had been drinking that night and blood tests revealed he was two-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit.

Prosecuting Nicholas Barker said: "The defendant was going too fast in the circumstances. He knew this area as a local police officer and he knew it well.

"He knew it was a residential district with people living nearby. As a police officer he knew full well, the Crown say, at around 2.30 on a Sunday morning there would be people around who would be worse the wear for drink. He was attending just such a call-out himself.

"He knew he was driving in a 30mph zone and at that speed he was travelling he gave himself no chance to take avoiding action.

"At the speed of 75mph, the Crown can say, he was an accident waiting to happen. As such his driving fell well below the required standard," the prosecutor added.

Mr Barker said police officers could exceed the speed limits and pass through traffic lights when responding to an emergency, but safety was paramount.

"All road users, whether motorists, cyclists or pedestrians are entitled to a safe environment that cannot be put at risk by police officers who may be responding to an emergency," he added.

The jury was told that when it was 135 metres from the point of impact, the police car was travelling at 75mph.

At 35 metres, or 1.1 seconds from impact, the officer began to brake and struck Mr Hambrey at 60mph, the court heard.

After the collision, Allen told investigators that he was not sure how fast he was driving but estimated it was between 50 and 60mph.

He said he became aware of a person wearing dark clothing in the carriageway who appeared to be in a "half-run". He said his speed was appropriate for the job he was attending but he had not been looking at the speedometer.

Allen, who gave his address as South Yorkshire Police operations complex in Tinsley, Sheffield, at an earlier hearing, is charged with causing death by dangerous driving and an alternative charge of causing death by careless driving.

He denies the charges and the trial continues.