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Policeman found guilty of driving without due care and attention

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 25, 2013

COLLISION SCENE: Lansdown Road after the crash on March 22 last year.

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A POLICEMAN drove carelessly when he went through a red light and knocked over a motorcyclist in Cheltenham, causing life-changing injuries, a court ruled.

PC Ruaidhri Stewart was found guilty of driving without due care and attention at North Avon Magistrates' Court following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into a collision on March 22 last year.

Nicholas Austin, who was riding a motorbike along Lansdown Road, suffered life-changing injuries when he was struck by a marked police car driven by Stewart, who went through a red light as he travelled from Talbot Road.

Mr Austin, 53, at the time, from Gloucester, was said yesterday to have been permanently affected by the injuries.

PC Stewart, 33, was fined £2,771 and received a six-month driving ban after being found at fault for his part in the crash.

Gloucestershire constabulary yesterday said he might also be subject to internal disciplinary action.

IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: "Our investigation found sufficient evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against PC Stewart.

"The court found PC Stewart guilty and he was fined £2,771 and six penalty points.

"This means that he has been disqualified from driving for six months."

A statement from Gloucestershire police said the force respected the court's decision.

It said: "Our thoughts are with the man seriously injured in the incident. As a result of the court's finding we will now consider whether internal disciplinary action is required.

"The officer concerned will remain suspended from driving and will be required to undergo assessment by the driver training unit before returning to normal duties."

The incident took place at around 7pm on the busy Cheltenham road. The route was closed off for around four hours as forensic teams carried out their investigations.

An eye-witness, who drove past moments after the collision, recalled seeing Mr Austin lying on the road, with paramedics treating him.

He said yesterday: "It was fairly clear at the time what had happened as it was right outside the police station – the squad car had obviously pulled out without due care. I'm very sorry to hear the man's injuries are permanent."

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  • ftpan4  |  January 27 2013, 12:18AM

    So a person who drove past the scene AFTER the incident was able to conclude that the officer "obviously pulled out without due care"?! This is truly terrible journalism. Getting a quote damning the officer from someone who wasnt even there at the time of the incident. Did TiG try to get a quote from someone that did witness the accident, or is that a bit too much like journalism?

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  • jeno2011  |  January 26 2013, 11:02AM

    I know the injured man and he will be confied to a wheelchair for life, due to the actions of this police officer, so a fine of £2771 and a six month ban is a small price to pay for ruining someone's life. This officer is supposed to be a highly trained driver but now he must be confined to a desk job.

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  • raidermanuk  |  January 25 2013, 1:52PM

    stopthebull From the IPCC "Because he was a witness in the trial the IPCC has not yet been able to share its report with Mr Austin but once we have done that we will publish it on our website"

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  • stopthebull  |  January 25 2013, 12:20PM

    There does not seem to be enough information regarding this... Was he on an emergency call? Were his lights and sirens going? Why was the fine so high? Having a look at the fines given to other people it seem disproportionately high. People will make judgements regarding this case, but there is not enough information to make this judgement. I hope the motorcyclist is recovering well, and I hope the police officer has learnt from the experience, it seems it could all stem from one momentary misjudgement. Has anyone approached the officer, or the defence for a statement? This story could be so much better!

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