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Pc accused over crash walks free

A police officer accused of killing a woman when he allegedly drove too fast in his van while responding to a 999 call has walked free from court because of a mistake by accident investigators.

Pc John Hannan, 32, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, which he denied, after his van crashed into the woman's car on June 28 2008 in Eccles, near Salford.

Angela Purcell, 38, from Swinton, who was sitting in the back of the car, died from multiple injuries.

Her brother, Peter Purcell, who was driving, and his young daughter Darla, were left with minor injuries.

During Pc Hannan's trial, Bolton Crown Court was told that officers are instructed not to exceed 20mph more than the road's speed limit when responding to emergency calls. The fatal crash happened in a 30mph zone.

Sion Ap Mihangel, prosecuting, told the jury that a reconstruction showed Pc Hannan was driving at 58mph and had slowed to 48mph when it hit Ms Purcell's car, which was inching forward into Green Lane from Cromwell Road.

But the prosecution collapsed on Thursday when it emerged crash investigators reconstructed the crash using the wrong vehicles. Rather than using a similar van, a car was used to determine the accused officer's speed.

Judge Timothy Clayson ruled that was unfair and said a not-guilty verdict should be recorded.

Greater Manchester Police, who referred the crash to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said: "Pc Hannan is not suspended from active duty but currently suspended from driving. That will now be reviewed."

A host of witnesses told investigators that Pc Hannan was driving too fast. One witness, Donna Clarke, said the van was going so quickly round a bend it "nearly turned over", while off-duty Pc Trevor Gibson noted the defendant's "aggressive" driving and made a mental note of the registration before speaking to his sergeant about it.


From Belfast Telegraph