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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Soldier admits killing policeman
Pc Joe Carroll

A Sandhurst staff sergeant has admitted killing a police officer who was escorting him in a patrol car.

West Yorkshire-born Pc Joe Carroll, 46, died following a crash on the A69 near Hexham, Northumberland, on 13 April.

His colleague, Insp Brian English, was also injured as they were travelling to a Newcastle police station.

Steven Graham, 39, a communications instructor at the Royal Military College, admitted manslaughter at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday.

Graham, who is a Gulf War and Kosovo conflict veteran, denied another charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against Insp English.

Crown prosecutors said Graham's pleas were acceptable and the defendant was remanded in custody for the preparation of pre-sentence reports.

The police officer was killed as he transported Graham in his patrol car at 70mph.

Graham, who had been arrested on suspicion of causing a breach of the peace, made a grab for the handbrake in a drunken attempt to escape.

The car skidded out of control off the road, and Pc Carroll suffered fatal injuries when the car overturned.

Pc Carroll's widow, Caroline, 46, said after the brief hearing that her husband had been killed because of a "selfish act."

She said: "Steven Graham was thoughtless and foolish, and didn't think of the consequences of his actions."

She said her husband was vibrant and fun-loving, and her hopes, dreams and plans for the future had died with him.

Pc Carroll, who had been a community officer for 13 years and a police officer for almost 25 years, was originally from Dewsbury, West Yorks.

Crashed police car
The car left the A69 near Hexham in Northumberland

The officer was described as "a real old-fashioned copper" by the chief constable of Northumbria, Mike Craik.

He was a familiar and much-respected face on his rural beat in the village of Bellingham, Northumberland.

Pc Carroll and his wife, who worked as a teacher, lived in Gosforth, Newcastle, and had no children.

He was born in West Yorkshire, the county where his mother Hilda and sisters Trish and Mary still live.

He joined North Yorkshire Police where he served for two years before moving to the Northumbria force in 1984.

Graham's barrister, Richard Bloomfield, asked for psychiatric reports to be carried out before sentencing, explaining his client had suffered trauma during his Army career.

Graphic of crash site

Mr Bloomfield said: "During the course of his career he was in the frontline artillery in the first Gulf war.

"He served in Bosnia and Kosovo and served two terms in Northern Ireland when hostilities were live there."

His then-girlfriend told police on the night Graham was arrested for breach of the peace that she was concerned the Army was not providing enough assistance for the trauma he had suffered, Mr Bloomfield added.

Kingsley Hyland, prosecuting, said Graham had entered a guilty plea at the earliest possible point, and should be given credit. Judge David Hodson adjourned the case for sentencing in the week beginning 31 July.

He told Graham: "The question will be what should be the appropriate length of that sentence."

The Crown said the charge of actual bodily harm against Insp English, which Graham denied, should lie on file.


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