Police driver accused of using ‘too much force’ to stop moped teen will learn his fate tomorrow

A suspected mugger knocked off his moped by a police car “sped up” when he saw it was blocking his way, a disciplinary hearing was told.

PC Edwin Sutton faces the sack from the Met Police if he is found to have breached professional standards by using a “dangerous” method to stop the teenager – suspected of pinching a handbag – when he drove into the moped’s path.

PC Sutton, a road policing officer, moved his marked car into the path of the moped being ridden by a 17-year-old boy – named only as ‘Mr G’ – in May 2017 to stop him speeding off.

But Mr G was driving at a “considerable speed” and was knocked from the moped when he ploughed into the police car, the hearing was told.

Mt G suffered “serious” injuries when he was thrown from the moped in north London, but no further details were revealed.

The hearing was told that after the accident the officer realised that the moped had no number plate, a tactic often used by criminals to avoid detection.

PC Sutton, who has taken part in several specialist police driving courses and was aware of guidance for stopping mopeds, did not realise how fast he was going – and it took 1.6 seconds from the patrol car’s acceleration to impact, the panel heard.

He has been hauled before the disciplinary hearing and could be sacked, despite Met Police chiefs hailing similar tactics for reducing moped-enabled crime last year.

PC Sutton is accused breaching professional standards by using an “unauthorised and/or dangerous method” and “using force” to stop the moped.

But Alisa Williamson, representing PC Sutton, said use of force was only applicable if it was done “deliberately”.

She told the hearing: “Use of force requires a deliberate action or intention on behalf of the officer; here it’s not a deliberate action by PC Sutton to use force.

“If he had driven his police vehicle at the moped in a deliberate attempt to knock him from the moped that could have amounted to use of force, but there is no breach of professional standard in relation to use of force here.

“He decided to perform a partial blocking manoeuvre to close the gap between the traffic to make it difficult for him that to move through the traffic.

“He accepts with hindsight that it was a poor judgement because a terrible accident occurred, but that doesn’t mean that this manoeuvre was unauthorised or that it was dangerous or that he wasn’t performing his duties in a diligent way.”

Ms Williamson said it was “clear” that the moped was being driven in a dangerous way.

She said: “One witness said when the police car moved over to block the green bike it sped up and hit the officer’s car – he was driving at about 25 to 30 mph and was trying to get past the police vehicle.

“Another witness said the bike was going very fast and hit the police car.

“It is my submission you have overwhelming evidence that there has been dangerous driving at high speed the moped that afternoon.”

She said character references from his colleagues describe PC Sutton as someone who “displays professionalism, courage and integrity” and questioned the “weight” that should be given the Mr G’s evidence, who did not attend the hearing.

She said Mr G’s evidence was “limited” in advance of possible criminal proceedings, adding “he had no licence or insurance”.

Ms Williamson said: “His witness statement states that he is deliberately limiting his account to what he describes as the immediate events prior to the collision.

“He had no licence to drive and no insurance.”

She added: “I believe you do not have sufficient evidence to show this amounts to a breach of professional standards.”

Charles Apthorp, on behalf of the Met Police, said he believed PC Sutton was experiencing a phenomenon known as “red mist” at the time.

He added: “Red mist is the state of mind of drivers that are so determined to do something that they can’t think rationally – that is what we say happened here.

“Drivers experiencing red mist tend to ignore risk factors – the risk factor here being the high probability that taking the manoeuvre would cause a collision.”

The panel is due to give its verdict tomorrow afternoon.

 

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