Greater Manchester Police officer PC Sarah De Meulemeester has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
She was found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, an offence amplified by the fact that she was driving on blue lights without the necessary authorisation to do so.
This incident took place on Boxing Day, December 26, 2020, in Stockport.
PC De Meulemeester was responding to an emergency call concerning a domestic incident involving a knife.
At the time, she possessed a ‘basic’ driving permit, which allowed her to operate marked police vehicles, but not with the use of ‘blue lights.’
It’s important to note that she was not granted the statutory exemptions given to police drivers who have undergone advanced driver training.
As the incident unfolded, De Meulemeester was part of a three-car convoy leaving the police station to attend the incident.
When news about the knife was relayed over the radio, another officer with the necessary advanced training overtook the convoy and switched on their emergency lights.
Speed data retrieved from De Meulemeester’s vehicle revealed that she slowed down to allow her colleague to overtake but then shockingly increased her speed again.
Initially, De Meulemeester claimed she was travelling at a “normal road speed,” but the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) investigation laid bare the truth.
The IOPC employed a wide range of evidence in their investigation, including CCTV footage, body-worn video from the officers, police radio transmissions, witness statements, and interviews with the drivers of the police vehicles.
As De Meulemeester drove along Garners Lane, she overtook a civilian car on the wrong side of a traffic island and tragically struck 15-year-old Khia Whitehead as he crossed the road, resulting in life-changing injuries for the teenager.
Upon the conclusion of the court case, IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates shared a sympathetic statement.
She acknowledged that while today’s verdict brought an end to these criminal proceedings, the impact of this collision on Khia and his family’s life will be enduring.
She added, “Our investigation has ensured PC De Meulemeester was held accountable for her dangerous actions that day, which had devastating consequences for Khia.”
With the criminal matters concluded, it’s now up to Greater Manchester Police to arrange misconduct hearings for PC De Meulemeester, and another officer, who the IOPC found has a case to answer for gross misconduct concerning their driving before the collision.
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Am I correct in saying that all Police Officers still take an OATH OF ALLEGIANCE to the Sovereign to serve in the office of Constable. If so there is an argument to remove the OATH if we sanction Officers for doing their best and things go wrong. I speak in general terms and accept that the full circumstances, in the instant case, are not fully related allowing an objective judgement on the facts to be validly made.
A shame a police officer had to go through this trying to do her job but to break the rules and severely injure somebody in doing so she drove beyond her experience and authority. The public must be protected and the police have to be seen to be abiding by their rules and the law. Hopefully she won’t lose her job and learn by her mistake.
What good to anyone will sending her to prison for two and a half years achieve. You wouldn’t get that much for a deliberate violent offence.