Henry Hicks inquest: Barnsbury teen ‘didn’t know he was being followed’ before he crashed moped
- Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson
Officers giving evidence at the inquest into the death of Henry Hicks today denied playing a part in the 18-year-old’s death, stating they believed he was never aware he was being followed by police.
The driver of the first pursuit vehicle, referred to as officer A for anonymity reasons, told the coroner Henry “gave no indication that he was aware of my presence”.
“At the time it was a clear case of ‘I don’t believe this fella’s seen me’,” he told the court.
This is despite the fact two unmarked police cars were following Henry up Caledonian Road on the evening of December 19 with both sirens and lights turned on.
On an emotional first day of police evidence, officer A went on to say he was never obliged to seek permission to follow Henry – as is usually the case in a police chase – due to the fact the teen was not aware he was being followed and had not refused to pull over.
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Police protocol states permission to carry out a vehicle pursuit is only necessary when the person in question has refused to stop.
Officer A also admitted his initial account of events was inaccurate, something he put down to the stress of the situation.
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He had said to a traffic officer at the scene that he had “signalled for the moped to pull over, and as soon as I put my blue lights on it rode off” – but he now denies activating his blue lights could have caused Henry to speed away.
“It was the most traumatic experience of my life,” he told coroner Mary Hassell at the Royal Courts of Justice.
“All this information was in my mind, and when I spoke to that traffic officer it came out wrong. I was in shock.”
Officer A fought back tears when describing the scene of Henry’s crash when he first arrived, sparking upset among Henry’s family, who had to listen to the officer give evidence from behind a curtain for safety reasons.
QC Nicholas Rhodes asked the officer: “Why don’t you save yourself the heartache and just admit you were pursuing that moped?”
But officer B, who acted as officer A’s operator on the day, also gave evidence in front of the jury, indicating he too felt Henry was not aware of the police presence following him.
“He hadn’t turned round or looked in his mirrors,” he told the court.
“That’s usually a distinctive movement for someone being followed.”
Both officers told how they were not aware the person on the moped they were following was Henry, and that they had continued to follow him as they believed he may have been dealing drugs. Seven bags of skunk cannabis were recovered from Henry’s body following his death, though he had no previous criminal record.
Today was the first day the inquest had heard evidence from any of the officers involved in the death of the teenager, killed in a collision in Wheelwright Street.
Coroner Mary Hassell has granted anonymity to the four police officers giving evidence, with the more testimony from officer B and from officers C and D testimony due to take place over the next two days.