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Family of teenager killed in police chase asking for review of decision not to prosecute officers

Holloway teenager Lewis Johnson died after colliding with a van during two-mile scooter pursuit

23 February, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Lewis Johnson died in collision with a van in 2016

THE family of a teenager killed in a police chase are launching a legal bid for a review of a decision not to prosecute the officers involved.

Lewis Johnson, 18, from Holloway, died when the white Vespa scooter he was riding collided with a van in Clapton in February, 2016, following a two-mile chase by Hackney police.

The case has echoes of the death of Henry Hicks, an 18-year-old who was killed in a collision with a parked taxi in Islington while riding a moped in 2014. His relatives contest the results of a gross misconduct hearing which cleared four officers who were tailing Henry.

Mr Johnson’s family learned last month that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – the independent body which decides whether cases should be prosecuted – would not be taking further action against two officers involved in the chase in Hackney. The Tribune can reveal they are now seeking a review of this decision, a process which can take months.

The family said they were frustrated at the CPS releasing details of its decision to the press before telling them that they would.

The teenager’s mother, Ann, said: “We had under­stood the CPS decision not to prosecute to be a confidential communication and had not been alerted by the CPS that they intended to comment publicly.”

She added: “It is also disappointing that the CPS did not feel able to treat us with dignity and respect when we met with them.

“We do not seek compensation, but we need to know the truth surrounding the circumstances in which Lewis died, and we will not allow the CPS to stand in our way.”

Mr Johnson, a former student at St Aloysius’ College in Archway and a talented footballer who played for Crystal Palace youth team, died at the scene.

His pillion passenger, Louis Kyriacou, 21, from Angel, was injured and taken to hospital. The Met says officers were called to reports that the moped Mr Johnson was riding had made off after a suspected snatch theft in Dalston. They started chasing when he failed to stop.

Mr Kyriacou was sentenced to 10 months in a young offenders’ institute for his part in phone snatches two years ago.

Andre Clovis, from Tucker Solicitors, who are representing Lewis’s family, said: “The family are seeking a review of the CPS decision not to prosecute, because the CPS has failed to address the facts known, or to apply existing law to those facts.”

He added: “Everyone should be equal before the law and, if Lewis were alive, society would demand that he be held accountable for his unlawful actions. A different standard should not apply to police officers, and the family are of the view that the officers should also be asked to account for their acts.”

Five officers, including the drivers of two police cars chasing Mr Johnson, have been served with a gross misconduct notice by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, formerly known as the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The notices from the police watchdog do not imply guilt.

A date for Mr Johnson’s inquest has yet to be set, more than two years after his death.

Mr Clovis added: “There appears to be no appetite to prosecute these sorts of cases. This is unacceptable. Too many families have been let down by the CPS adopting what appears to be a blanket approach whenever police are involved in a fatality.”

A CPS spokeswoman said: “Following the death of Lewis Johnson on 9 February 2016, the Independent Police Complaints Commission referred two officers from the Metropolitan Police to the CPS for a charging decision. After reviewing the case, we decided we would not be taking further action. The officers involved and the family of Mr Johnson have been informed.”

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