Tears in court as Peterborough police officer accused of deliberately running over a man twice is cleared

A police officer accused of running over a man twice during a pursuit in Peterborough has been cleared at court.

Friday, 24th May 2019, 10:15 am
PC Lee Rumsey arrives at court. Picture by Terry Harris. THA

PC Lee Rumsey was driving a BMW 330 on routine patrol with colleague Sergeant Declan McDonagh as the front-seat passenger on August 29, 2017 when the incident happened in Morley Way, Woodston. It was alleged PC Rumsey drover deliberately at the man - but yesterday he was found not guilty of dangerous driving.

Following the verdict, Liz Groom, chair of the Cambridgeshire Police Federation tweeted: “Officer & his family been through 21 months of pain. The tears (inc mine) at the verdict say it all! He was just doing his job. Pursuing a fleeing suspect, catching criminals.”

The court heard began to pursue a silver Mercedes coupe which failed to stop when 50-year-old Rumsey activated the vehicle’s blue lights in Peterborough.

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Benedict Peers, prosecuting, had told the court that during the pursuit Rumsey steered the police car into the Mercedes, then twice steered it into the driver after he got out and tried to flee on foot.

Mr Peers said that, after steering the police car into the suspect a second time, Rumsey told Mr McDonagh: “Sorry, mate, I had a senior moment and hit the wrong pedal.”

Rumsey of Werrington denied a single count of dangerous driving.

Mr Peers, opening the prosecution case, said the silver Mercedes coupe came to the attention of the officers after it oversteered on a roundabout and began to increase its speed when they followed it to note its registration plate.

Rumsey then activated the blue lights.

Mr Peers said the Mercedes later “did a complete 180” and Rumsey steered the police car into the driver’s side of the Mercedes, shattering the driver’s window.

The Mercedes drove off but then collided with a lorry.

“The occupants get out of the car and start to run,” Mr Peers said. “He (Mr Rumsey) shouts ‘That’s the driver, that’s the driver’.”

He said dash-cam footage from the police car shows a young man running from the driver’s side of the Mercedes across the path of the police car in Morley Way, Woodston.

Officer McDonagh was ready to jump out of the police vehicle but, quite clearly, on the footage you can see this defendant steering that car directly back towards that man who’s running,” said Mr Peers.

“It then strikes him directly from behind, knocking him off balance and causing him to fall to the ground.”

He said the speed of the police car was estimated at 15mph.

Rumsey said to “go get him” and Mr McDonagh put his left foot out of the vehicle, Mr Peers said.

“But then Mr Rumsey drives forward again, the young man having got back to his feet,” said Mr Peers.

“The Crown say you can see deliberate steering towards that young man.”

He added: “The Crown say this is deliberate driving, calculated to strike the Mercedes on the driver’s side, secondly to strike this man twice while he’s running from the police car.”

The suspect had “a number of injuries”, he said.

Rumsey gave a prepared statement when he was interviewed at a later date, the court heard, saying he deemed it “sufficiently safe” to make contact with the Mercedes to try to end the pursuit.

“He then decided to make contact with the man running away to prevent the public and himself from harm,” said Mr Peers.

“Mr Rumsey said in terms that the nation’s on a high security alert, we’re suffering from high levels of crime and gangs, he didn’t know who the person was or why they were so keen to evade capture.”

He continued: “We simply say there can never be any justification in these circumstances for using the police car as a weapon.

“We say there was no obvious risk from this man. He was running away.

“There’s no suggestion he was armed or that anyone was in immediate danger from this man.”