Policeman convicted over schoolgirl's crash death

A traffic officer who drove his patrol car at 94mph without blue lights or sirens moments before knocking down and killing a schoolgirl was convicted today of causing death by dangerous driving.

Hayley Adamson, 16, was sent flying through the air and died instantly when she was hit by Pc John Dougal's powerful Volvo estate car on a 30mph stretch of road in a residential area of Newcastle's West End last May.

The 41-year-old officer was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving following a five-day trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Dougal, a qualified advanced driver, was travelling so fast he had effectively become a passenger in his own car, and had surrendered "to physics", an expert witness told the jury.

Retired police inspector and police driving standards expert Gordon Robertson said he "could not imagine" a situation where Dougal should have accelerated to more than 90mph, without activating his blue lights or siren, as he was about to enter a built-up residential area.

Hayley, dressed in a white tracksuit, was walking with a group of friends at around 11.20pm when she stepped out into Denton Road.

The court was shown footage from Dougal's in-car video camera, including the moment the teenager was hit by the car and flung out of shot.

Dougal said he saw the girl and tried to brake and steer away from her, but could not.

He stopped immediately after and was confronted by the girl's friends.

Dougal was on night shift when his patrol car's registration number recognition system alerted him to a suspect Renault Megane which had just passed him in the opposite direction.

He turned his 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 around 70mph when it hit the teenager.

She had been drinking alcohol that night, which may have affected her decision-making, but the court heard it was notoriously difficult to judge traffic speed, especially at night.

The Megane was wrongly indicated to be suspicious and was being lawfully driven by a Czech national, Kalaman Galambos.

Dougal said he did not want to alert the Megane driver that he was being pursued, by putting on his sirens or blue lights.

Andrew Dallas, prosecuting, had told the court: "This on any view was dangerous driving, whether undertaken by a civilian, a police officer or anyone else.

"To do so without use of warning lights severely compounds the danger he represented and the dangerousness of his driving."



Dougal was told prison was inevitable, and he was remanded in custody to be sentenced on May 1.

He did not react when the foreman announced the guilty verdict, but members of the Adamson family cried "yes".

Judge David Hodson said: "You will be remanded in custody and you must appreciate that the inevitable outcome of a conviction of an offence of this nature is an immediate sentence of custody."

He added: "I am sure everybody who has sat through this case will be acutely conscious of the grief there has been to the Adamson family.

"I think it is right the court should express the court's condolences to the family."

The jury of eight women and four men took an hour and a half to deliberate before reaching their unanimous verdict.

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice