Monday, May 12, 2014

Widow's fury at British police who said her husband's cycling death was an accident just 15 MINUTES into their investigation

The widow of a cyclist who was killed in a country lane two years ago is still battling police - accusing them of making a catalogue of errors when they investigated his death.

Richard Jordan was 67 when he was involved in the incident near Ashford, Kent, but police were not told about the crash for 30 hours, by which time he had died and the scene had been cleared.

When they finally did investigate Mr Jordan's case, they said there was 'no third party involvement' - after just 15 minutes.

That was before they knew a couple who dialled 999 were heard arguing during the call about whether their car had hit him.

Now Mr Jordan's widow Sue, 66, claims that she will never know how her husband died and is calling for the investigation to be reopened.

She is fighting her case at the Independent Police Complaints Commission after an internal report - seen by MailOnline - confirmed a clutch of 'administrative' failings by officers.

Retired BT engineer Mr Jordan suffered a 7ins fracture to his skull when he crashed on November 24, 2011 near his home in Old Wives Lees, Kent.

He was taken to hospital where he was ruled unfit for surgery and died later the same day.

But paramedics did not tell police and they only found out 30 hours after the crash, by which time the scene had long since been cleared.

Fifteen minutes after being told and before they interviewed any witnesses or visited the scene, police said no third party had been involved - a decision the force now admits was wrong.

It took them another four days to take a statement from the driver of the car who dialled 999, who was one of the two main witnesses.

Mr Jordan's family, who insisted his injuries were so severe that he must have been hit, lodged an internal complaint with Kent Police.

But they had to wait until an inquest recorded his death as an accident before receiving a reply.

Other findings of the 11-page report include:

Forensic evidence was lost when a bag containing Mr Jordan's clothes was left open.

Officers seized Mr Jordan's bicycle but not the car whose occupants dialled 999, which had a dent on the front.

The officer who made this decision was not a fully qualified forensic collision investigator at the time.

The car was declared a write-off six months after the bike crash, and police only found out because Mr Jordan's family checked its status online.

Mr Jordan's children Neil, 46, Emma, 43, and Paul, 40, claim that they have repeatedly been denied answers by police over the last two years.

His widow said: 'We feel angry and helpless and I will not stop until we get some form of justice.

'Every day I relive that day and I just can't get it out of my head. Because we have no answers and we can't piece together what happened. I can't let it go. It's taken over my life.

'They gave us the tape of the 999 call 10 minutes before the inquest started. Our barrister didn't really have a chance to look at it. The whole result seemed cut and dried before we walked in.'

His son, Neil, added: 'The report has shown them up for what a shoddy investigation they carried out.

'We've complained to the Kent police commissioner and our local MP. All through the two and a half years I've been completely at a loss as to why so many people have treated us so badly.

'The police just haven't listened to us. In my mind all the facts point to him being hit. They completely failed to do some basic policing and it makes you wonder what else could have not been picked up.

'It has been a catastrophe for the family. It's bad enough losing anyone through natural causes but to be denied closure for so long is awful.

'I'm still so angry. It's been the overriding emotion throughout the whole period - we're frustrated at not being listened to.'

Mr Jordan, who was married to Sue for 44 years, took up cycling after his children bought him a bike for his 50th birthday.

The pensioner who was wearing a helmet was cycling a route he took five times a week when he crashed.

Robert Weatherby from nearby Chilham, who was driving his girlfriend Justine Staley to work, told the inquest that he pulled over onto a verge to avoid hitting Mr Jordan on a hill and dialled 999.

The distressing call, played in court and heard by MailOnline, featured the couple arguing over whether they hit the cyclist.

Switching between the operator and his girlfriend, Mr Weatherby said: 'He just completely lost control... No, he didn't touch us at all, we didn't hit him at all.'

Miss Staley is heard saying: 'The back end of the bike hit us', to which he replied: 'No it didn't, we didn't hit him at all. He came off and then we hit the bike, we went over the bike. That was what happened because he just absolutely lost it.'

She told the inquest Mr Jordan was cycling at high speed with a 'fixed' impression on his face, so may have been suffering a medical episode.

Police only listened to the 999 call for the first time more than a month later, and decided not to re-interview the driver or passenger.

The coroner ruled the death was an accident and told the couple, who were never arrested or accused of any offence, that they should not feel in any way responsible for what happened.

In their complaint Mr Jordan's family alleged officers had neglected their duty and had been 'rude and condescending' to them when they raised concerns.

The report also exposed failings in the way records were kept.

While the report was written, an officer came forward to say he had checked the dent on the car and decided it did not match the damage to Mr Jordan's handlebars.

Yet this was not disclosed in the police's original documents, the report said, and only came out when the report was compiled more than a year later.

The force admitted the family felt there had been a 'breakdown of communication' - partly because there was a lack of liasion officers - but said many of their claims were not borne out.

It did, however, admit the officer who said there was no third party involvement 'prejudged the outcome' without testing other theories properly.

'Although hampered by the lack of an effective audit trail... most relevant lines of enquiry have been followed although the recording of the rationale behind a number of decisions and actions has been shown to be unsatisfactory,' the report said.

However, it added: 'There is no evidence to indicate the outcome of the inquest into Richard Jordan's death would have been any different'.

Three officers received 'management action' over the investigation, the report says, but the family have not been told what that was.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service has since changed its policy to tell police immediately whenever a cyclist is hit.

Otherwise, the family claims, no one has been properly held to account for the police failings.

A force spokesman told MailOnline: 'Kent Police is sympathetic to the family of Mr Jordan for their loss.

'A full investigation into the incident in November 2011 was carried out by officers from our Serious Collision Investigation Unit and the findings were submitted to the coroner, who recorded a verdict of accidental death.

'Following a complaint received, Kent Police has carried out a full review of the original investigation, and a copy of this report has been sent to Mr Jordan's family, who have now contacted the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

'The review's conclusion was that the investigation was carried out correctly. However, Kent Police notes that there are administrative areas which can be learned from and added to procedures in our best practice guide.

'We are satisfied that the officer who investigated the family's complaint made contact with the family on a regular basis, over and above that which is required.'

The family have since referred their complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Original report here




(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

No comments: