Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 18:44 UK

Death crash Pc's 'serious error'

Pc John Dougal
Dougal also worked as an electrician, his trial heard

Pc John Dougal made a "serious error" when he accelerated to 94mph without activating his siren or blue lights.

The 41-year-old's actions have been condemned by both Northumbria Police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The watchdog said the highly-trained police driver had fallen well below the standards expected of officers.

And his employers say they take full responsibility for the "terrible loss of a young life".

He was earlier convicted of causing the death of 16-year-old Hayley Adamson in Newcastle by dangerous driving.

Pc Dougal joined Northumbria Police 12 years ago and trained as an advanced driver.

But it was this training which was unsuccessful, according to police driving standards expert Gordon Robertson.

Being a highly trained police driver should never be used as licence to take unnecessary risks on public roads.
Gary Garland, IPCC

He told the officer's trial: "Once a driver allows a vehicle to travel at a speed at which it's physically impossible for that car to stop in the distance he can see to be clear is the point at which their training has failed.

"The training is there to make sure you never get into that situation."

However, the crash on 19 May was not the first time that Pc Dougal had made headlines.

Six weeks earlier, the officer was on duty when he was bitten by a man who claimed to be HIV positive.

Zimbabwean refugee Mlungisi Moyo had been arrested in Bensham, Gateshead for suspected drink driving.

He was handcuffed and put into Pc Dougal's car where he leaned forward and bit the officer's head.

Dougal needed blood tests - the results of which were never made public.

Pc Dougal's patrol car
Pc Dougal's driving fell 'well below standards', said the IPCC

Moyo was sentenced to two months in prison after admitting assault.

It has also emerged that Pc Dougal worked as an electrician alongside his police job.

The 41-year-old and a fellow officer were doing "little bits of electrical work" the morning before he started his late shift on the night of the crash.

But Dougal told the trial he was not tired when he began his police work that night.

Since the crash, he said he thought about Hayley Adamson every day and that he was devastated.

"I can't think what her family feel," he said.

But ever since the crash, he has maintained that his driving was not dangerous.

'Terrible consequences'

Northumbria Police's temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jim Campbell said: "The public place their trust in police officers to make judgements and act in a way that does not put them at risk and on this occasion we failed.

"Police officers undertake a difficult job that requires them to make decisions in often difficult circumstances.

"I acknowledge that the actions of Pc Dougal, who was driving the police car, were not intentional, but they were a serious error of judgement which have now been properly dealt with by the court."

Gary Garland from the IPCC, which carried out an investigation into the crash, added: "Being a highly trained police driver should never be used as licence to take unnecessary risks on public roads.

"The actions of Pc Dougal fell well below the standards we should expect of police officers. His driving was highly dangerous - and had terrible consequences that he must live with for the rest of his life."

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