Tougher sentences were demanded last night after a traffic officer was jailed for three years for running down a schoolgirl moments after speeding at 94mph on a residential road without his sirens or blue lights.
Pc John Dougal knocked down and killed Hayley Adamson (16) on a 30mph road in Newcastle’s West End 12 months ago while trying to catch a suspect car, and was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving at Newcastle Crown Court last month.
Judge David Hodson sentenced the experienced and respected officer after giving him credit for his genuine remorse and years of service, saying he possessed “rare human qualities”.
Dougal (41), who has already suffered abuse in prison, will be eligible for release on licence in 18 months.
A spokesman for the road safety charity Brake said: “We need a justice system which hands down tough penalties for any driver who takes needless risks with terrible consequences, rather than one that awards less than a quarter of the maximum sentence in such cases.”
Gary Garland, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Commissioner for the North East, said Dougal’s actions on May 19 last year “defied belief”.
“Pc Dougal’s driving that night was far removed from the training he had been given,” he said.
“The sentence handed down to Pc Dougal must serve as a reminder to police drivers that their training does not give them a licence to take unnecessary risks.”
Hayley’s family said justice had been done and no sentence could compensate them for their loss. Her aunt Heather Kinlock said: “Hayley was a bubbly, fun-loving 16-year-old girl who was much loved by all who knew her.
“The tragic accident caused by Pc Dougal has had a devastating effect on our family.
“Pc Dougal took the law into his own hands that night and left our lives shattered forever.”
Dougal was on a night shift when his patrol car’s registration number recognition system alerted him to a Renault Megane.
He turned his Northumbria Police patrol car round and sped up to a maximum of 94mph, slowed slightly as he crested a hill, then saw Hayley step into his path.
It was estimated that the Volvo had slowed to 70mph when it hit the teen, who was to sit her English GCSE the next day.
The Megane was wrongly under suspicion and was being lawfully driven.
The judge described the case as “an immense tragedy for everyone”. He said would have given him a four-year sentence were it not for the mitigating features.