Met officers proven to have committed ‘gross misconduct’ in high-speed pursuit

Two Metropolitan Police officers have been proven as having committed “gross misconduct” during and after a pursuit which led to two pedestrians being killed, the police watchdog has said.

Officers Pc Edward Welch and former Pc Jack Keher were chasing a stolen Ford Focus when the driver lost control and mounted the pavement, striking a group of pedestrians.

Child actor Makayah McDermott, 10, and his aunt Rozanne Cooper, 34 were killed in the collision in Penge, south east London, on August 31 2016.

A disciplinary panel concluding a hearing on Friday found both officers had breached the standards of professional behaviour amounting to misconduct, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.

Joshua Dobby court case
(left to right) Omar McDermott and Danielle Cooper, parents to Makayah McDermott, and grandparents Suzanne and Malcolm Smith with other family members outside The Old Bailey in London, after Joshua Dobby, 23, was jailed for 12 years (Yui Mok/PA)

The panel also found the officers breached standards for failing to check if anyone was injured and failing to prioritise first aid at the scene, which amounted to gross misconduct.

Pc Welch was given a final written warning following the hearing, while no sanction was given to former Pc Keher after the panel decided he would not have been dismissed if still serving.

The hearing found, using dashcam footage, that Pc Welch had at one stage of the pursuit reached 63mph while driving the wrong way along a one-way street with a 20mph speed limit.

The panel previously heard the officers failed to accurately assess the level of risk that the pursuit posed and did not report this risk back to the control room via radio, meaning the chase was not categorised as high risk at any point.

Pc Welch had claimed he attempted to tell Met Command and Control (MetCC) that the pursuit was high risk but the airways were blocked.

It was also heard that after the Ford Focus, driven by Joshua Dobby, then 19, had collided with the pedestrians, both officers chased him on foot and failed in their duty to protect lives by not checking for any injuries or prioritising first aid.

The IOPC had decided that the officers should face a gross misconduct hearing following an investigation in August 2017.

Pc Welch was found not guilty of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving and dangerous driving following a trial at the Old Bailey in December 2022.

Joshua Dobby court case
Joshua Dobby (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Dobby was jailed for 12 years at the same court in March 2017.

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: “Our thoughts remain with the families of Makayah and Rozanne who sadly lost their lives and to everyone affected by this incident.

“Officers must assess the risks before engaging in a pursuit and continually reassess this throughout.

“Any pursuit must be proportionate and factor in the surrounding circumstances, including the public safety risk.

“We found that the officers’ actions in pursuing a stolen car at up to three times the speed limit in an area busy with traffic and pedestrians during the school holidays, was not proportionate or justified given the apparent safety risk to the public.

“The officers also failed in their duty of care to protect lives following the collision by chasing the offender rather than immediately going to the aid of the victims.”