Officer talking on her phone at time of fatal crash – “In the time of the first interview, I just panicked and said what I said, which I know is not the truth.”
A Police Special Constable has escaped being prosecuted for causing death by dangerous or careless driving after she hit and killed a biker while talking on her mobile phone. The Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge Special Constable Collette Carpenter, 23, for the death of David Bartholomew, 54, in March 2012 because it could not be proved that Carpenter was in fact holding the phone when the crash occurred.
The officer initially denied being on the phone when the crash took place, but later changed her story – stating instead that the phone was set to loudspeaker so that she could answer an incoming call while it was in her lap. Commenting, Carpenter said “In the time of the first interview, I just panicked and said what I said, which I know is not the truth. I don’t know why I didn’t say about the phone. I was in shock, maybe I didn’t think it was relevant at the time. I was not distracted.”
The use of handheld mobile phones while driving is illegal and police can issue a £60 fine and three licence points if they believe that a driver using a hands-free set is not in adequate control of their vehicle or that they are distracted. PC John Hayward, accident investigator for Dorset Police, told Bournemouth Coroner’s Court that “The use of her mobile phone can only have been a distraction and has very likely contributed to her not seeing the motorcyclist.”