Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 14:51 UK

Death crash Pc driving 'safely'

Pc John Dougal
Pc John Dougal denies causing death by dangerous driving

A police officer who knocked down and killed a schoolgirl at more than 90mph has told a court he believed his driving was safe.

Pc John Dougal denies causing the death by dangerous driving of Hayley Adamson, 16, in Newcastle's West End last May.

He told Newcastle Crown Court: "I think about Hayley every day. I think my driving was safe."

Pc Dougal was in a patrol car without lights or a siren sounding while chasing a suspect car, the court heard.

The jury has been told that he was reacting to his car's automatic number plate recognition system, which alerted him to a passing Renault Megane - indicating it could potentially be linked to a crime.

He accelerated to catch it up and struck Miss Adamson when she stepped into the road, the hearing heard.

I can't think how her family feel
Pc John Dougal

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Pc Dougal said the road was clear and he did not consider his speed to be unsafe.

Miss Adamson, who was with friends, moved off the pavement into the Denton Road, then started to run across it.

Pc Dougal said: "She ran across and I tried to steer the other way, I couldn't. I could not avoid the collision and stopped immediately.

"I tried to get on the radio, it was busy the first time, when I did start to talk, I couldn't really speak and I got out of the car."

He said a man ran up to him and started shouting. He said: "I tried to put my hands up and said 'we will sort it out'".

Asked by John Elvidge, defending, if he considered his driving dangerous, he replied: "No I do not."

He said he was left "devastated" by the teenagers death. "I can't think what her family feel."

Hayley Adamson
Schoolgirl Hayley Adamson was killed instantly

Andrew Dallas, cross-examining, told the defendant: "You have talked up the degree of lawlessness that this Megane represented in your mind in order to justify the way you drove."

"I don't agree with that," the officer replied.

He was then asked whether there was a trade-off between driving at higher speeds and the need to warn other road-users with lights or sirens.

"If it was necessary to put them on, I would have done. I don't think I made a mistake, I followed my training."

Mr Dallas asked if he would drive in the same manner now.

He said: "I would have to be in a police vehicle and I don't think I could do that now."

The trial continues.



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