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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Soldier jailed for Pc's car death
Steven Graham
Graham was a Gulf War and Kosovo conflict veteran
A Sandhurst staff sergeant has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for the manslaughter of a police officer.

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

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

Graham, who was not handcuffed, made a grab for the handbrake in an attempt to escape from Pc Carroll's patrol car.

Pc Carroll's colleague, Insp Brian English, was also injured as they were travelling at 70mph to a Newcastle police station.

Graham, who had served in Kosovo and the Gulf, had been arrested on suspicion of causing a breach of the peace after a row with his girlfriend.

Graham was alone in the back of the patrol car, but became agitated when he realised he was being taken 35 miles to Newcastle, and not to nearby Hexham, because there were no overnight cells available.

Pc Carroll - a 13-year veteran - died in Newcastle General Hospital from a serious head injury.

Pc Joe Carroll
Joe Carroll had been a police officer for almost 25 years

The court heard Graham had been banned twice for drink-driving by the military in Germany.

After the sentencing, Graham said Pc Carroll's death could have been avoided if he had been taken to Hexham, and not to Newcastle.

In a statement issued by his solicitor, he said: "I believe that this whole incident could have been avoided had the cells at Hexham police station been able to receive prisoners ... and if I had - as is the policy in other police forces - not been left unrestrained and alone in the rear of the police vehicle when I was drunk."

Northumbria Police chief constable Mike Craik said: "It is impossible to know whether being handcuffed could have prevented Graham from pulling on the handbrake. He had been in custody on previous occasions and not given cause for such concern.

"As a matter of course after an incident of this nature we examine all relevant practices and a 90-day review of custody and custody transport has begun."




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