IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Mother demands ‘thorough investigation’ into death of son killed in police chase crash

Former Crystal Palace youth team player Lewis Johnson, 18, known as 'Lighty' died in a moped collision

06 February, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Lewis Johnson, and right, in his Crystal Palace kit

THE mother of a Holloway teenager killed in a road crash while he was being chased by police has spoken publicly for the first time of the “huge loss” which has devastated her family.

Lewis Johnson, 18, died when the moped he was travelling on collided with a van in Clapton Common on February 9 last year following a two-mile pursuit by police. Another man, who was sitting on the back of the scooter, was injured in the crash.

Speaking publicly for the first time since her son’s death a year ago, Lewis’s mother Ann, 46, told the Tribune: “Words can’t express how much we miss him.

“Lewis was the youngest [of three]. He was the man of the house in a way, looking out for his sisters and his mum, and so popular. Our whole outlook on life has changed.”

An inquest into Lewis’s death has been set for September, leaving his family facing an agonising wait for answers to questions about the full circumstances surrounding his death.

Ms Johnson’s legal team are concerned that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating the incident, has not yet been able to trace all witnesses.

“Everything is rested on that [the inquest],” Ms Johnson said. “All I know is that Lewis went out one morning and I feel like I was robbed of the chance to say goodbye properly.

“I want it investigated thoroughly.”

The police watchdog is particularly keen to speak to a motorcycle courier who is believe to have witnessed the crash and possibly filmed some footage on a mobile phone.

Lewis, whose nickname was “Lighty”, was a former student at St Aloysius’ College, in Archway, and a promising footballer who had played for Premier League side Crystal Palace’s youth team.

“He just loved his football,” Ms Johnson said. “There was a time when he had a match on Sunday morning and would not watch Match of the Day with me because he deemed it too late and had to be up [early] for his match. He took it very seriously.”

Losing Lewis, with whom she was very close, has been “devastating” for her family, she said. She praised “my girls”, Lewis’s sisters Demi and Jessica, and Morgan, his girlfriend of three years, for sticking together. “We all help each other. The ‘Four Musketeers’ we call ourselves, the ones that are really hurting.”

Ms Johnson said Lewis’s friends have also been a great source of comfort to her. They took part in a football tournament in his memory last year to raise money for a memorial bench. It will be placed in Paradise Park, near where Lewis lived and often played football for hours on end.

“They’re only teen­agers and still to this day they’ll pass by and knock,” Ms Johnson said. “I’ve got a little shrine in the front garden and they’ll sit out there. They’ve just been so good to us. It amazes me. This is how we’re getting through this.”

Scotland Yard said that police were called to reports that the moped Lewis was riding had made off after a suspected snatch theft of a mobile phone in Dalston. Officers spotted a moped nearby fitting the description given. Scotland Yard has said officers gave chase after the moped failed to stop for police and that the police helicopter was also called.

Following a two-mile chase the moped crashed. Lewis died at the scene.

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 through Hackney and Islington.

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.

Ms Johnson is urging witnesses of the crash to contact the IPCC on 0800 096 9070 or castlerti@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk. Alternatively, contact can be made with Ms Johnson’s solicitor, Andre Clovis, at Tuckers Solicitors on 020 7388 8333.

“It’s most important to find out exactly why my son lost his life that day,” she added.

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