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Police order changes after damning report into road death probe
12:26pm Wednesday 28th May 2014 in News
A “CATALOGUE of errors” made by police investigating the death of a North-East man on a pedestrian crossing has been revealed for the first time.
To mark the third anniversary of Jake Thompson’s death, his parents John and Janet Thompson have released a number of official documents which heavily criticise the ensuing police inquiry.
The failings detailed include that: no crime scene investigator was appointed; no attempts were made to trace the original 999 caller; CCTV was not captured or explored; the driver’s mobile phone was not scientifically examined; and he was not interviewed until four months later.
Further, details of officers who attended the scene were omitted from a log and details from their notebooks were not captured, leading to an important witness being missed; some witnesses were not contacted and others were not interviewed at the scene; and an officer prematurely advised there was no need for a forensic post-mortem investigation.
Jake Thompson, a 27-year-old teaching assistant, was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing of the A37 in Bristol in May 2011 and evidence suggested Paul Vowles, the driver of the truck that hit him, was travelling at 38mph in a 30mph zone shortly before the crash.
The Crown Prosecution Service initially twice refused to charge Mr Vowles and although a concerted campaign by the family eventually led to a trial for causing death by careless driving, the 45-year-old of Knowle, Bristol, was cleared.
The family say they have released the various documents, which they claim reveal a catalogue of errors, now in the hope of helping others.
John Thompson, of Belmont, Durham, said: “As painful as it is, we wanted to reveal the damage caused to us by their incompetence and shambolic attempts at investigation in the hope that new systems and training will be implemented by the force to protect other families who face the horror of a death on the roads from a similar fate.”
In response, Avon and Somerset Police said it had made improvements to how it works, including giving officers dealing with such cases extra training, recording investigations electronically to improve supervision and providing more detective support.
Chief Inspector Lisa Simpson, from the force’s professional standards department, said: “I’m confident that these and other steps we’ve taken will improve how we respond in the future.”
The Thompson family successfully sued Mr Vowles for damages through the civil courts but the criminal trial, held in Bristol in February, ended after Judge Martin Picton directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict.