Teenage car thief guilty of killing Pc Dave Phillips with stolen truck
A teenage car thief has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a policeman by mowing him down in a stolen pick-up truck while being chased by other officers.
Clayton Williams, 19, killed Pc Dave Phillips just three weeks after coming out of jail on licence for crashing another stolen car in a police pursuit.
He drove at the 34-year-old officer at around 50mph in the three-ton Mitsubishi L200 truck in what the prosecution alleged was a "cowardly and merciless act".
But jurors at Manchester Crown Court cleared him of murder and convicted him of the alternative count of manslaughter, after finding that he did not intend to kill or seriously injure the officer.
Pc Phillips, a father of two, was thrown into the air and died almost instantly from "catastrophic" injuries in the incident in Wallasey Dock Link Road, Merseyside, in the early hours of October 5 last year.
Cannabis-addict Williams, who said he had been using the drug since the age of six, admitted his dangerous driving caused Pc Phillips' death, but maintained he did not intend to injure anyone and only wanted to evade capture and not go back to jail.
The officer had been crouched on the kerbside deploying a tyre-puncturing stinger device to end the 80mph chase when Williams mounted the central reservation and drove at him.
Williams told the jury of nine women and three men that he was trying to drive around the stinger spikes and did not see Pc Phillips until the second before impact. He narrowly missed Pc Phillips' colleague, Pc Thomas Birkett, 23, and was earlier cleared by the jury of a charge of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent against that officer.
Pursuing police cars radioed "Officer down! Officer down!" and stopped the chase to tend to their colleague who lay dying in the road as Williams vanished into the night.
He dumped the car, showered, burnt his clothes and gave his phone away before he was arrested the next day.
Pc Phillips' widow, Jen, 29, and the couple's daughters, Abigail, seven, and Sophie, three, described him as a loving, caring "super daddy" in moving floral tributes laid at the scene of his death.
Today, Mrs Phillips, his sisters Hannah Whieldon and Kate, and mother and father, Robin and Carol, watched from the public gallery as the jury delivered its verdict.
During the two-week trial they had relived the final moments of his life as a video recording of the incident was played frame by frame, over and over again in court as Williams denied murder.
Mrs Phillips wiped tears from her eyes as the verdict was delivered, but there was no reaction from Williams in the dock.
He is due to be sentenced shortly.
Helen Graves, senior crown prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "Williams drove a stolen vehicle at dangerously high speeds through residential areas and then collided with a police officer who was simply doing his duty.
"His actions on that night have devastated the family of Pc Phillips and robbed the police force of an upstanding and valuable member of the team. This has been a complex and difficult case and the CPS would like to thank Merseyside Police for their help in bringing this case to court.
"The family of Pc Phillips have behaved with tremendous dignity and courage throughout this trial, despite having to face the details of the last moments of their beloved husband, father, son and brother. Our thoughts remain with them at this very difficult time."