Police Constable Harry Chaplin, aged 27 and stationed in Weymouth, has been sentenced by the Winchester Crown Court after admitting to a careless driving offence.
The case has been the subject of significant public interest due to the circumstances surrounding the collision and the legal outcomes.
The incident occurred on Saturday, July 9, 2022, just after 22:00 hours on Littlemoor Road in Weymouth.
PC Chaplin was driving one of two marked Dorset Police Vauxhall Astras that were responding to a 999 emergency call. Both police cars were displaying activated blue lights at the time.
A local man in his 30s was driving the Honda Civic involved in the collision. The man was travelling along Littlemoor Road and had indicated to turn right into Chalbury Close.
He slowed down as he approached the junction to allow the first police car to pass.
As he initiated the right turn, the second police car driven by PC Chaplin collided with the rear offside of the Honda Civic.
The impact resulted in the Honda Civic spinning multiple times before crashing into the wall of a nearby house.
After admitting to the careless driving charge, PC Chaplin was ordered to pay a fine of £307, £500 in compensation to the victims, and a £123 victim surcharge.
Furthermore, he will have eight points added to his driving license.
Speed and Legal Exemptions
Expert investigators determined that Chaplin’s police vehicle was travelling at a speed between 73 and 81 mph before emergency braking and impact in a 30 mph restricted zone.
According to Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, police vehicles are exempt from speed limits when responding to emergencies if they use blue lights and sirens and drive in a safe and responsible manner.
Injuries and Consequences
The Honda Civic contained four passengers: the male driver, his wife in the front passenger seat, and their two young children.
The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment and spent several days receiving medical care for a brain bleed.
The incident led to an investigation conducted in association with the Independent Office for Police Conduct, further emphasising the severity and implications of the case.
Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Lyne said:
“We note the sentencing of the court. Police drivers undergo intensive driver training and regular refresher courses to ensure that they drive to the safest standards and in accordance with the law.
“There are exemptions allowing officers to travel in excess of the speed limit at times, but this must always be done so safely.
“Where this highest standard is not met, we will present evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service who will determine if any action should be taken.
“This matter will now be subject to internal investigation and as such it would in appropriate to comment further.”
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