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Delays to Lewis Johnson chase death probe under fire

‘It’s wholly unsatisfactory,’ says coroner after police watchdog warns it cannot meet deadline

03 March, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Holloway teenager Lewis Johnson died in a scooter crash in February last year after a police pursuit

A POLICE watchdog has again come under fire from a coroner over the length of time it is taking to complete its investigation into the road chase death of Holloway teenager Lewis Johnson.

Lewis, 18, was on a Vespa scooter when he crashed into a van at Clapton Common after a two-mile pursuit by two police cars in February last year.

Another man, aged 20, who was on the back of the scooter, was injured in the crash. Lewis, a talented footballer, died at the scene.

At a preliminary hearing of the inquest into Lewis’s death on Wednesday, coroner Mary Hassell reacted angrily when the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the crash, said it will not publish its final report until April – two months past the deadline given by the coroner.

“It’s wholly unsatisfactory,” she said.

Her criticism comes after she told another barrister for the watchdog at a hearing last August that she was “horrified” that the report would not be finished until February.

Speaking after Wed­nes­day’s hearing, Andre Clovis, solicitor for Lewis’s family, said: “The family are very disappointed by this further delay. They have, however, been kept updated by the IPCC and hope there will be no further delays. They are very keen to see this report and underlying documents.”

The inquest heard that one of the officers involved in the chase is considering applying for witness anonymity in the proceedings.

The coroner ordered the Met to make any application for anonymity by March 14.

Louis Kyriacou, 20, who was travelling on the moped with Lewis, was sentenced to 10 months in a young offenders’ institute for his part in a 45-minute series of phone snatches.

Two officers involved in the pursuit have been served with gross misconduct notices by the IPCC and advised they are under criminal investigation, though this does not mean charges will necessarily follow.

Three other officers have been served with gross misconduct notices. These do not imply guilt.

An IPCC spokeswoman said: “We had anticipated that the final investigation report would be completed by early March.

“Having received an independent review of the collision investigation report and re-interviewed officers, the IPCC’s final report is now more likely to be completed around mid-April. Efforts are being made to ensure the investigation and final report are concluded as swiftly as possible.”

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