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Henry Hicks not aware of pursuit, police expert tells misconduct hearing

First day of misconduct hearing into future of officers involved in Henry Hicks death

18 October, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Henry Hicks died after his moped crashed into the back of a taxi in December, 2014 

A senior police officer has told a misconduct hearing that a popular Angel teenager was not aware he was being followed by two unmarked cars before he crashed and died – contradicting an inquest jury who ruled last year he knew he was being pursued.

Four officers, who have been granted anonymity, are alleged to have broken Met police policy by failing to ask permission to pursue 18-year-old Henry Hicks, who died after his Vespa moped collided with the back of a taxi in Wheelwright Street, next to Pentonville Prison, on December 19, 2014.

The modified 300cc moped flipped and hit Henry on the head causing catastrophic head injuries even with a helmet.

The two unmarked police cars, a Hyundai and a Ford, had been following Henry since spotting him outside the Star of Kings pub in York Way, just before 8pm after one of the officers suspected him of dealing drugs.

The hearing was told how the two “operators” in the cars – police officers sat in the front passenger seat who are responsible for operating the radio – did not seek permission to pursue the 18-year-old from the Met’s central command. Instead, they co-ordinated with each other and both cars had their blue lights and sirens on.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Rickett, Commander of Roads and Transport Policing for the Met, told a misconduct hearing at Empress State Building yesterday (Tuesday) that the four police officers following Henry “were not in the pursuit phase and didn’t ever reach it.”

The superintendent who helps write pursuit policy said he came to the decision by watching CCTV footage of the chase, hearing evidence from the police officers at a previous inquest into Henry’s death, and the style of Henry’s driving. The inquest held last year ruled Henry did know he was being pursued.

“I do not believe the officers made a formal requirement for Henry to stop. From that we won’t know what was the perception of the rider. They did not formally make a requirement for Henry to stop, so were not in the pursuit phase and didn’t ever reach it,” he said.

Elaine Herlihy, charing the hearing, asked the superintendent who is three weeks away from retirement, if Henry’s high speed showed he knew he was being followed.

“Not in my experience. Riding 20mph is the least of their concerns. That style of riding is typical of men riding stolen mopeds around London’s streets,” he said.

At the core of the misconduct hearing into the futures of the police officers named only as A,B,C,D is whether the two unmarked police cars were in “pursuit” of Henry and if he was aware of being followed.

Metropolitan police policy states permission to pursue a vehicle must be radioed in and granted through central command who carry out a risk assessment which examines various conditions including whether the rider is wearing a helmet and if there is another passenger present.

Earlier in the hearing, the chair heard how one hour after the crash Officer A had provided a statement – not under caution- that he had signalled Henry to stop.

The statement from Officer A read out by Jeremy Johnson, the lawyer representing the Met, said: “I was behind a moped on Caledonian road which I signalled for it to stop. As soon as I put on the blue light, the moped drove off.”

Mr Johnson read radio transcripts between the two cars from just before and after Henry’s collision where Officer A said: “He failed to stop, this is going to be very serious.”

The chair was shown CCTV footage with Henry driving at 46mph down Caledonian Road shortly before his crash.

In the footage, a Hyundai car driven by officer A and operated by officer B, is seen driving at 42mph around ten seconds after Henry’s scooter.

An accelerating Ford car driven by officer C and operated by officer D driven at 52mph follows shortly after.

The hearing was told that operators in both cars had struggled to communicate with central command after “locking” their radios when they started following Henry.

The hearing continues and is expected to conclude on Thursday.

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