England

Joshua Brown inquest: Soldier hit by speeding police car

Joshua Bell Image copyright Presser
Image caption Joshua Brown was hit by the marked police car as he walked back to his barracks after a night out

A police officer was driving at an "inappropriate speed" when he hit and killed an off-duty soldier in Surrey, an inquest has decided.

Joshua Brown, 21, was hit by a marked police car on an emergency call as he walked in fog early on 1 December 2012.

The police car was being driven by PC Adam Springett at 81mph at the Hog's Back, when it hit Mr Brown, the inquest at Woking Coroner's Court heard.

Mr Brown, from Retford, Nottinghamshire died from head and neck injuries.

The soldier was a craftsman with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, based at barracks in Bordon, Hampshire.

He had been on a night-out in nearby Guildford with a friend on 30 November when he became separated from him after leaving Dusk nightclub.

'Under the influence'

The incident happened at about 03:35 GMT in Puttenham, as Mr Brown walked back to his barracks. He was killed instantly.

During the hearing, PC Springett said: "I wasn't aware there were any pedestrians on the road and I didn't expect any.

"I have never seen pedestrians there before. There's no facility for them to walk on that road."

The inquest jury ruled the police car "was being driven in an inappropriate manner prior to joining the A31, which was an unlit dual carriageway.

"As the vehicle was beginning to encounter patchy fog, the driver moved into lane two of the carriageway, in accordance with his driver training," the jury said.

'Refused to accept responsibility'

The inquest decided Mr Brown was under the influence of alcohol and dressed in dark non-reflective clothing.

"He was walking in lane two with his back to any potential traffic.

"This, along with the vehicle's speed and weather conditions, were contributory factors," the jury concluded.

In a statement, the family said four driving experts had told the hearing the actions of the police driver "fell below the acceptable standard".

PC Springett "said he would not have changed the way he drove that night", the family said.

They said: "We are disappointed that Surrey Police and the driver of the police vehicle have refused to accept responsibility for his actions."

Paying tribute to him, Mr Brown's family said: "Josh's death has left a huge gap in our lives. His life was filled with such promise - he had achieved so much and had so much more to give."

Surrey Police said it would be taking no action against PC Springett.

A force spokesman said: "The force immediately referred this matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and has co-operated fully with both their investigation and the subsequent coronial process.

"The Crown Prosecution Service has considered this matter and advised that no criminal action would be taken in relation to the officer who was driving at the time."

Image copyright David Howard
Image caption The police car was being driven at 81mph in fog on the A31 when it hit Mr Brown

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