Fatal crash PC cleared

By a County Press reporter

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A POLICEMAN from the Isle of Wight, who ran over a grandfather as he raced to a 999 call, has been cleared of causing the pensioner’s death.

PC John Wright, who lives in Colwell Road, Freshwater, but works in Surrey, slammed his foot on the brakes of his patrol car but hit 75-year-old Archibald McIlveen while driving at more than double the speed limit.

A jury of six women and six men took less than three hours on Wednesday to return a verdict of not guilty to the charges of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving.

The court heard from PC Wright's solicitor, Robin Sellers, that three police driving instructors had done test runs and agreed they would not have been able to avoid Mr McIlveen.

PC Wright wept and almost collapsed in the dock as the foreman of the jury read out the verdicts. He later embraced his family members, who had supported him in the public gallery.

Speaking after the verdict, PC Wright’s solicitor, Susan Freeburn said: "PC Wright would like to publicly pass on his condolences to the family of Mr McIlveen. He would also like to thank the jury for their hard work and his friends, family and colleagues for their support through this difficult time."

Mr McIlveen’s distraught relatives rushed out of court immediately the 'not guilty’ verdicts were announced.

Addressing PC Wright’s defence barrister, Judge Gordon Risius said: "I hope your client will be able to put this terrible tragedy behind him, difficult, of course, as that will be."

Mr McIlveen had been on his way home from babysitting his two grandchildren when he was struck by PC Wright’s police car, which was speeding to an emergency break-in call in Claygate, Surrey on November 4, 2008.

The 40-year-old officer was found by the side of the road in tears when police colleagues arrived at the scene.

He told them: "I have killed someone. He just walked out right in front of me. There was nothing I could do."

PC Wright is a decorated officer who had been singled out for special praise for his handling of the death of an eight-year-old girl.

He lives on the Isle of Wight with his partner and eight-year-old son.

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