Parents urge Crown Prosecution Service to act in speeding lorry road death case06 December 2012
Struck by a speeding lorry while on a pedestrian crossing
The parents of a 27-year-old man who died after being struck by a speeding lorry while on a pedestrian crossing have appealed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to reverse its decision not to prosecute the driver.
Jake Thompson, a teaching assistant working with pupils with special needs, died in hospital on 25 May 2011, five days after sustaining severe head injuries in an incident on the A37 in Bristol.
Jake’s parents, John and Janet Thompson from Belmont, Durham City, now face the prospect of a second Christmas without their son with no action whatsoever having been taken against the driver, Paul Vowles.
It was established at an inquest in September 2012 that the lorry’s Tachograph device recorded an average travelling speed of 38mph in a 30mph zone immediately prior to the incident.
Two independent witnesses gave evidence that the lights on the pedestrian crossing were changing to red at the time, as well as other witnesses who the police have made no attempt to trace.
The loss of a child is something each and every parent dreads
The Thompson family appealed to the CPS in October 2012 to reconsider its decision not to prosecute and have been told they will receive a response by 14 December 2012.
“The loss of a child is something each and every parent dreads. Unfortunately for myself and my family, it has become a devastating reality,”said Mr Thompson.
“Our son Jake was a wonderful man who meant a great deal to numerous people – friends, colleagues and pupils – up and down the country; his friends and co-workers have raised memorials for him in Bristol as well as in the North East.
“While his memory is alive in the hearts and minds of those who knew him, it seems the police have forgotten the duty of care they owe to this special young man. To know that there is no record of there even being a criticism of the speeding driver, let alone a prosecution is unfathomable.
“We hope that the CPS, by looking at the evidence in earnest this time, takes the decision to test the witnesses in court and seek out the answers Jake so rightly deserves.”
“We are desperate to understand how the failings in the police’s treatment of this case came to pass - why witnesses were not questioned? Why leads were not pursued? Why the cause of our son’s death was not sufficiently ‘in the public interest’ to be properly investigated?”
“Surely this cannot be ‘the norm’? For the sake of my family and others who have endured the loss of a loved one on the roads, I sincerely hope it isn’t. No family should have to endure a fight for basic justice as we have done.”
Appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
The family submitted a complaint to the police regarding their handling of the investigation in February 2012 and were successful in an appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to have this recorded and dealt with under the Police Reform Act 2002.
They are now due to meet the professional standards department of Avon and Somerset constabulary on December 19.
The solicitor representing the family, David Robinson of Thompsons Solicitors, outlined a series of concerns about the police investigation in a letter to the IPCC in September.
“There were a whole host of failings,” he said. “In the first instance, the police showed no sense of urgency and seemed to have made up their minds not to prosecute.
“Secondly, they took three witness statements a few weeks after the accident, but did not attempt to trace the driver of a passing bus or obtain Mr Vowles’s mobile phone records.
“Thirdly, they failed to take statements from the nurses who were passing and who attended to Jake at the scene, nor did they formally interview the driver himself until September 2011 – about four months after the incident.
“But the staggering thing is the lorry was travelling at 8mph over the speed limit as it crossed the stop line, and yet the driver has walked away with a clean licence.
“Because of the failure of the police to mount a full inquiry, the inquest in September wasn’t given the full facts and ruled Jake’s death accidental. But, working with the family, we are determined not to let the matter rest.”
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