Peterborough cop cleared of dangerous driving after ‘21 months of sheer hell’ feels ‘betrayed’ by police as he quits to become truck driver

A Peterborough traffic officer who was cleared of dangerous driving after accidentally knocking over a suspect with his patrol car says he feels “betrayed” by Cambridgeshire police.

Monday, 30th September 2019, 2:21 pm
Lee Rumsey

PC Lee Rumsey was found unanimously not guilty by a jury after a four day trial at Cambridge Crown Court but now has to face a gross misconduct hearing, prompting him to hand in his badge and become a truck driver.

The 51-year-old served the public for 19 years but claims the “21 months of sheer hell” he went through before his acquittal in May forced him onto antidepressants and took a terrible toll on his family.

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He told the Peterborough Telegraph his mum’s dying wish was for him to quit the force for the way he had been treated and that he felt “tremendously let down” with no charges being brought against the Mercedes driver who had been arrested for failing to stop, driving a suspected stolen vehicle, possession of cannabis, driving with no insurance, theft of petrol and possession of a knife.

PC Rumsey had been charged after chasing down the suspect in Morley Way, Woodston - who he claims was doing 81mph in a 30mph zone - only for him to “accidentally” press the accelerator of his police car, resulting in him knocking over the suspect.

Reflecting on his ordeal, he said: “I’m a lot better now. I had 21 months leading up to it of sheer hell, not just for myself but my family also.

“Now I have resigned, as sad as it is I feel relieved.

“Mentally and physically I can’t go through a gross misconduct hearing.

“The court case was horrendous. I went into a very dark place I never want to go into again. I will not let them put me and my family through a three day trial for something I have been found unanimously not guilty of in court.

“The judge at the trial said I was completely exonerated and thanked me for my exemplary 19 years of public service.

“I’m on sleeping tablets and antidepressants when before I was always full of life and a joker. I’m a shadow of the person I was and I have the police to thank for that.

“They spent more than £100,000 (prosecuting) a good cop trying to do his job. I’m a human who has made a mistake which I have been honest and upfront about, but I still had to go through four days in a criminal court while the suspect was released.

“It’s not as if there was no evidence - it was all captured on the car video. Criminal papers were never sent to the Crown Prosecution Service to see if prosecutions should be brought. Where’s the justice?”

PC Rumsey said on the day of the incident he was working overtime due to a shortage of staff when himself and a sergeant saw a car lose control on a roundabout before travelling along Morley Way in Woodston.

“The vehicle was not going to stop,” he said. “It reached 81mph in a 30mph area. It was on Morley Way nearly losing control around a bend.”

PC Rumsey said after tracking down the Mercedes the three occupants tried to flee.

He said he “gently” used the front of the police car to trip the driver’s back legs, causing him to fall down, before he brought his vehicle to a halt.

His mistake then came when he tried to get out of the car.

“I have taken my foot off the break to get out the door and I can see the car moving. I went to press the break and accidentally pressed the accelerator and hit the suspect.”

PC Rumsey said he believes he hit the driver at a speed of around 11mph. “I was honest and said to the sergeant I’d had a senior moment and hit the wrong pedal. It was an accident.”

Aside from being charged he is also angry at the 21 month process to put him before a court. He said if it had taken him 21 months to take a dangerous driving suspect to trial he would be getting his “a*** kicked”.

What made matters worse for the Peterborough copper was the ill health of his mother.

“My mum was taken into hospital the week before the trial. After the trial it was four days of sheer elation before she passed away,” he said.

“My mum’s dying wish was I should quit the police.”

After being confronted with the fact he would now face a gross misconduct trial he decided “enough was enough”.

“I have given all I can to this job,” he added.

He said he felt let down by the lack of contact from senior management during his 21 month ordeal during which time he claims his driving permit was frozen and he worked a desk job, as he was too afraid to be out on the streets while legal proceedings were active.

“I feel betrayed. I have given 19 years of my life to serve the public and enjoyed every moment of it. I still have the deepest of respect for officers out there doing the job. But I feel with the police service you’re guilty until proven otherwise.

“I’m not the first cop to go through this and I certainly won’t be the last one and they will continue losing good officers.

“I hope someone in the force reads this and thinks ‘what are we doing?’

“I’m very bitter and feel tremendously let down.”

A police spokesperson said: “The criminal court process and police internal misconduct disciplinary processes are two separate procedures, which serve different purposes. An acquittal at court does not automatically prevent or cease an internal disciplinary proceeding under the Police Regulations.

“PC Rumsey attended Cambridge Crown Court for a criminal allegation of dangerous driving. The disciplinary matter relates to his potential breaches of the standards of professional behaviour as per Schedule 2 of The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012.

“As this matter remains subject to ongoing internal disciplinary proceedings it would be inappropriate for the force to make any further comment about the case until the misconduct proceedings have concluded.

“To increase openness and transparency in the police service, members of the public are informed of the hearing five working days prior to the hearing. Members of the media are also welcome to attend.

“A fair and transparent process is taking place with regards to this matter which is being overseen by our Deputy Chief Constable.”