Henry Hicks: Teen showed ‘none of the classic signs’ he was being chased by police
- Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson
Henry Hicks showed none of the “classic signs” that he was being chased by police, a misconduct hearing heard today.
It contradicts what a jury found at Mr Hicks’s inquest in June last year: that he knew he was being pursued by two unmarked police cars.
Mr Hicks, 18, died of head injuries when his moped crashed in Wheelwright Street, next to Pentonville Prison off Caledonian Road, in December 2014.
Two unmarked police cars had been following him, with the officers suspecting him of dealing drugs outside the Star of Kings pub in York Way. After the crash, seven bags of skunk cannabis, three mobile phones and £230 cash were found.
Following the inquest, misconduct charges were brought against the four officers in the two cars over their alleged failure to obtain permisson to pursue him. They have been granted anonymity. The third and final day of evidence at the hearing took place today.
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Neil Saunders, representing the two cops (A and B) in the first car behind Mr Hicks’s moped, said: “The case revolves around whether this was a pursuit. I don’t agree.”
Referring to CCTV footage, Mr Saunders said: “There are none of the classic signs: he doesn’t hunch to look in his mirrors. He doesn’t discard the helmet. He doesn’t discard the drugs. He doesn’t discard the phones. Officers with experience of pursuits know the driver would have headed into the estate.
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“Finally, what does Henry do? He indicates to turn right into Wheelwright Street, just in case the officers didn’t see where he was going.”
He added: “What reason, then, for Henry to drive quickly? Maybe he doesn’t want to linger. He has seven bags of skunk. He’s possibly been dealing drugs. We don’t know where he was going.
“From the CCTV on Pentonville Prison, the closest the car gets to the bike is four seconds. The bike was getting further away from the first car.”
The hearing, at Empress State Building in Earl’s Court, heard that Officer B had “many dealings” with Mr Hicks, who lived in Liverpool Road. There had never been any problems with the teenager, it heard, and Mr Hicks would even stop and chat.
Matthew Butt, representing the two officers (C and D) in the second car, added: “There was a significant distance. Would he hear sirens while travelling on a 300cc moped at 40mph while wearing a helmet? With the benefit of only side mirrors, which he never looked at?
“Henry’s style of driving was unremarkable for a young man [on a moped] in Caledonian Road. Even behind the two police cars was a motorbike travelling at a similar speed to him. It in fact performed a wheelie.”
But Jeremy Johnson, representing the Met, said: “From the journey to Copenhagen Street to York Way to Wharfdale Road to Caledonian Road, I don’t suggest there was any pursuit at that stage. There was no indication to Henry to stop.
“[But] I submit the officers clearly formed an intention to stop the moped when they could. The officers saw the moped again on the junction of Caledonian Road and Copenhagen Street. The critical issue is what happened then. The officers wanted to stop the moped.
“The moped suddenly shot off. It was on the wrong side of the carriageway for a long part of Caledonian Road and there was an element of weaving. There’s a pretty significant difference to the style of driving in York Way. What he’s doing in Caledonian Road is entirely consistent with making away from the police.
“My submission is that on the balance of probability, Henry Hicks was aware of the approach of police officers either because of indication or that they were about to stop him.”
Concluding, he said: “The only issue for the panel is whether it’s satisfied the officers were involved in a pursuit. If they were involved in a pursuit, it follows they were in breach of policy.”
Earlier, Officer D, who had been the passenger seat of the second car, had given evidence. She said she had been involved in “50 or more” pursuits prior to the incident, and of those pursuits she insisted: “I can’t think of any occasion where we were refused authority. I am confident I asked for authority every time I should have asked for authority. I’m aware I needed to seek authority before engaging in a pursuit.”
The second car, driven by Officer C, had copied the first car in turning on its lights near the Cally’s junction with Copenhagen Street. There, they saw Mr Hicks stationary, with his feet on the ground, “engaged with some other young people”.
Mr Johnson asked: “What was it in your mind that prompted C to put his lights on?”
Officer D responded: “I don’t know. I can’t answer for C. If I was driving, I would have activated them to catch up with car one. It had disappeared out of our sight. It wasn’t obvious car one was chasing the moped. I couldn’t say what speed we were travelling at.”
The panel is expected to reach a verdict tomorrow at 1pm.