Police 'contributed' to crash which killed young Wakefield driver, jury inquest concludes

Police were found to have contributed to a high-speed crash on the outskirts of Wakefield in which a young man died, a jury inquest has concluded.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 5:13 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 5:14 pm
Jamie Smith died in the high-speed crash.

Jamie Smith was killed when he lost control of his powerful BMW on the road at Heath Common late evening on April 30, 2018, amid claims he reached speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Traffic officers claimed they had turned around to "follow" the BMW after it passed them on the Normanton bypass at speed, but denied they had been pursuing the car, which allowed them to keep the blue lights switched off.

It was not until moments before Jamie lost control of the car that the lights were switched on.

The crash scene days after the accident.

But following a five-day inquest at Wakefield Coroner's Court, the majority of the jury found that the police car had been in spontaneous pursuit and said that the police involvement had "contributed to Jamie's own actions that contributed to his death."

Allegations were also made by Jamie's father, Paul Smith, earlier in the inquest that cocaine worth more than £2,200 found in Jamie's vehicle had been planted by police.

This was denied by all officers involved.

However, the jury agreed that Jamie had fled police at speed because he knew he had the drugs in the car, and was aware that the police were behind him.

The inquest was told how Jamie, 21, an excavator driver of Cross Road Middlestown, had picked up his best friend Lewis Charlesworth from Normanton Police Station that night and had been heading towards Wakefield.

After spotting the police car, he began to accelerate and reached speeds thought to be well over 100 mph.

Video footage showed from the police dash cam showed that even when the police car was travelling at nearly 118 mph it failed to get close to the powerful BMW.

Jamie lost control of the car on the bend of Black Road, close to the junction with Hell Lane, and rolled the car at least once, smashing into bollards and a large boulder at the side of the road.

Jamie had not been wearing a seat belt and was thrown clear of the vehicle. He died a short time later from a head injury.

His passenger suffered only whiplash.

A forensic investigator who gave evidence during the week-long hearing found from the tyre marks left on the road estimated the car to be travelling at around 86mph just prior to impact. The road's speed limit is 40mph

After the jury recorded a narrative conclusion, Wakefield's Senior Coroner Kevin McLoughlin said: "One of the lessons shines out in this case is the value of wearing seat belts.

"You do see an astonishing split between what happens when people are wearing seat belts and when they are not."