Driver gets nine years for killing policeman

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The Independent Online

A disqualified driver who hit a police officer, dragging the fatally injured man nearly 50 metres, was given a nine-year prison sentence yesterday.

Wayne Rule, aged 25, who showed a "total disregard for human life", was also banned from driving for 15 years by Maidstone Crown Court in Kent after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

PC Jon Odell, who was doing roadside speed checks, was hit head-on when he pointed a radar gun at a Vauxhall Astra driven by Rule in Margate in December last year. He suffered head injuries and broken legs and arms, and died in hospital four hours later from internal bleeding.

Judge Andrew Patience said he accepted the remorse shown by Rule, but added: "You had a total disregard for human life or suffering. You collided with the officer, killing him as he was carrying out his duty."

Rule had pleaded not guilty to murder in March, three months after turning himself in to the police. But he surprised the court yesterday by pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

On the night of the accident PC Odell, aged 30, was wearing a white cap and a fluorescent yellow jacket that was ripped to pieces during the accident, the court was told.

Rule, who had two passengers in the car, saw the officer and said: "Shall I go for it?" Both passengers screamed at him to stop. He drove on, fearing that he would be sent to prison over Christmas because he had been disqualified from driving for a drinking offence.

Wendy Joseph QC, for the prosecution, told the court that PC Odell's colleagues had heard the officer say as the car approached: "This one's definitely getting a ticket", before stepping out into the road and holding his hand out for the driver to pull over. Rule twice attempted to swerve past PC Odell, who moved in the same direction to try to stop the car, which was travelling at 52mph despite the 30mph speed limit.

Ms Joseph said: "PC Odell ran towards the south side of the road but it seemed his shoes may have slipped on the road."

He was thrown on to the bonnet against the windscreen, before landing on the roof where he was carried along before falling off the back of the car. He hit the windscreen with such force that a piece of his jacket was found inside the damaged vehicle.

The judge said: "PC Odell was more than 220 metres away when you saw him. You could have stopped. You were a disqualified driver and you thought only of yourself. You ignored the screams of your companions to stop."

PC Odell lived with his partner, Cathy Kidd, and her son. She said yesterday: "Jon was a police officer because he believed he was doing something to help others. To have his life taken away by someone who had no regard for others is beyond contempt. It has been a very difficult six months, not only for me, but also for Jon's family, friends and colleagues.

Detective Chief Inspector Bob Nelson, who led the investigation, said the case against Rule had brought into focus the risks officers on duty sometimes faced.