Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just a slap on the wrist for callous British cop

A police officer who refused to help a pensioner when she collapsed – and subsequently died – from a heart attack has escaped serious punishment.

Off-duty PC Paul Raines ignored 62-year-old Christine Roche’s need for urgent assistance after he became involved in a road-rage row with her husband, Patrick.

Yesterday Mrs Roche’s son Matthew said he was disgusted the 45-year-old officer had been handed nothing more than a ‘slap on the wrist’.

The incident happened as the pensioners were driving home in foggy conditions and the wing mirror of their car clipped PC Raines’s Ford Focus. After challenging the couple, the officer grabbed Mr Roche, 72, leaving him ‘scared witless’.

As the pair argued, Mrs Roche suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of the couple’s car.

But rather than go to her aid, PC Raines, who would have received basic training in first aid, left without even calling an ambulance. He was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

Yet despite a criminal inquiry, inquest and an internal disciplinary hearing, PC Raines has been told he will not be punished or stripped of his job as a firearms licensing officer.

Instead, senior officers have ruled he was guilty of ‘discreditable conduct’, earning him only a final written warning.

Matthew Roche, 29, called the decision an ‘utter disgrace’. Mr Roche added: ‘This is not an appropriate consequence for his actions. ‘I have lost my mother and he has not even lost his job. ‘We were originally looking for a manslaughter charge and now to be told he will carry on working has left us inconsolable. ‘To think that this is the end of the road and he will just get to move on with his life with just a warning beggars belief.’

Mrs Roche, who worked on the switchboard at Great Ormond Street Hospital for more than 30 years, died at the wheel of her Peugeot 106 in November 2010. She was only yards from home in Hillingdon, West London, when her wing mirror clipped PC Raines’s car.

The officer left his children in the back seat to get out and remonstrate with the pensioners. One witness said: ‘He caused quite a scene and someone said we should call the police but he answered, “I am the police”.’ The officer then produced his warrant card before grabbing Mr Roche, who uses a walking stick, and pushing his hand behind his back.

As the heated exchange continued the men realised Mrs Roche had collapsed. Paramedics were unable to save the pensioner, who had undergone heart surgery the previous week.

An inquest found she died of natural causes. The couple’s son said the tragedy and lengthy legal proceedings caused his father’s health to decline.

And he said the family had little say at the disciplinary hearing – where PC Raines was represented by two lawyers – because they could not afford legal representation. ‘It has been a nightmare,’ he said. ‘We don’t have a big family and now it is just the two of us. My mother was our rock and she has been taken away. ‘We don’t feel that anyone has stepped forward and helped us. He had every advantage and we had every disadvantage.’

Deborah Glass, of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said although the officer did not cause Mrs Roche’s death he had ‘failed to perform his basic duty of care’.

Lorna Heger, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said there was insufficient evidence to show PC Raines’s actions caused Mrs Roche’s death.

The Met said the officer, who was based at Paddington, West London, was on restricted duties.

Original report here

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