A jury has cleared a Met Police officer of causing death by dangerous driving. The jury returned their verdict after just one hour of deliberation.
18-year-old Lewis Johnson died after the motorcycle he was driving crashed during a pursuit in east London on 9th February 2016.
PC Paul Summerson had initiated the pursuit after Johnson and his accomplice had been allegedly spotted trying to steal a bag from a lone female in east London.
His passenger, Louis Kyriacou, who was aged 19 at the time, was also seriously injured.
PC Summerson, who was driving a marked police BMW 5 Series, indicated for Johnson to stop, but he failed to do so.
In his attempt to evade the police, Johnson drove in and out of traffic at high speed and on the wrong side of the road for around four minutes. As Johnson undertook a van, it moved to the left to make way for the police car that was ready to pass it on its off-side.
It was at this point that Johnson tried to avoid the van and ended up hitting some street furniture. He died at the scene.
The Crown Prosecution Service had initially decided not to charge PC Summerson with any offences arising from the incident.
But Lewis’ mother, Ann, 49, sought a judicial review against the decision by the CPS not to charge the officer.
High Court judges intervened and quashed the decision of a reviewing CPS lawyer not to prosecute the officer.
The case file was then re-submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a review decision to be made by a different lawyer.
Following that review, PC Summerson was charged last year (2020)
But today, Tuesday 12th October, PC Summerson was cleared by a jury at Kingston Crown Court of causing death by dangerous driving.
The pursuit followed a series of mobile phone thefts in the area, and jurors were shown CCTV in which Johnson and his passenger reached toward a lone woman at 11.11 am that day.
During the trial, prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford QC told the jury: ‘This case is about the standard of the defendant’s driving and whether or not it caused the collision that resulted in the death of Louis Johnson and the serious injury of Louis Kyriacou’.
Mr Sandiford asked the jury to consider ‘whether the defendant’s driving was dangerous at any time during that pursuit that lasted about four minutes on that morning,’ adding: ‘It doesn’t matter that the defendant was a police driver and he had training’.
PC Summerson maintained that he had held back at a ‘safe distance’ during the pursuit. At no time did PC Summerson’s marked police vehicle make contact with Johnson or his moped.
Summerson, of Colchester, Essex, denied and was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
During the trial, the jury heard several statements from PC Summerson’s colleagues and friends, who referred to him as hardworking, professional, and dedicated to his job as a police officer
The news comes less than 24 hours after two Met Police firearms officers were cleared of any wrongdoing after the CPS offered ‘no evidence’ on the first day of their trial.
One officer, identified as NX1, was charged with wounding with intent, while the second, identified as MY55, was charged with attempted wounding with intent.
The Crown Prosecution Service charged the two officers following a referral of evidence from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which investigated the shooting.
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