Belfast Telegraph

Police cleared over chase that led to death of Derry teenager

By Claire Cromie

A jury at an inquest in England has ruled that continuing a police car chase that led to the death of a Londonderry teenager "was acceptable".

Ryan Boyle (19) died on February 21, 2013 when his car flipped onto its roof on a road between West Sussex and Surrey.

Mr Boyle was followed by police for some distance and did not stop when the pursuing vehicle sounded its siren, instead accelerating away at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour as he approached the village of Lingfield in Surrey.

He was being pursued after it was found his car flagged up as not taxed or insured.

Mr Boyle, a pipe and cable layer who worked mostly in England, also overtook three vehicles, breaking a solid white line on the road to do so.

While the driving of the officer involved in the pursuit was not criticised, questions were asked as to why police control did not stand the chase down as it approached the village, and why a supervisor in the control room was not alerted to the situation.

Witness Robert Shore, who is an expert in the handling of emergency calls, told the inquest: "If I had known that a chase was moving towards a village at high speed I would have stood it down."

Five other people in three vehicles were injured at the scene, as Mr Boyle's car hit three others as it crashed.

One of these was hit head-on while Mr Boyle's car was upside down.

Two police officers in an unmarked police car started following Mr Boyle at about 7.25pm as he had made unnatural and prolonged eye contact with them as they sat in their car by the side of the road.

Coroner Simon Wickens told the inquest jury: "It appeared the driver looked at the officer over his shoulder for a long period of time."

While the police were following him they carried out a check on the car's registration, which revealed that Mr Boyle's Lexus wasn't taxed or insured.

The jury heard that Mr Boyle increased his speed to up to 50mph, at which point the unmarked BMW police car put on its flashing lights and sirens, before speeds increased to up to 90mph.

The pursuit lasted just over three minutes before he crashed.

The foreman of the jury said: "The risk of assessment made by the officers was adequate."

He added, however, that the handling of the incident by the Force Control Room was "insufficient", but said: "On the balance of probability, we find that it was acceptable for the pursuit to continue."

Mr Boyle was described as a "fit young man, who rarely saw his doctor" and was "mainly keen on cars".

At the time of the fatal pursuit he was on his way to collect his girlfriend Sophie Barrett from the gym before heading to the cinema.

She described him as "quiet, generous, affectionate, hard working, funny and respectful".

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