Sussex police officer given final written warning following gross misconduct hearing

20 Jul 2020 01:43 PM

A Sussex police officer who was driving a police vehicle which struck and killed a pedestrian in Brighton has been given a final written warning for misconduct, following a police disciplinary hearing.

Police Constable Richard Harris, based at John Street Police Station in Brighton, faced allegations of five breaches of police standards of professional behaviour relating to duties and responsibilities, all relating to his speed and manner of driving on the night in question.

David Ormesher, 79, from Poole in Dorset, died on 25 August 2017 when he was hit by the police car driven by PC Harris, who was responding to an emergency call. It was alleged that PC Harris’s speed as he drove through Brighton was, at all times, not necessary, reasonable or proportionate in the circumstances, and that he narrowly avoided collisions with two other vehicles before colliding with Mr Ormesher.

Our investigation concluded in August 2018 and we made a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider criminal charges against PC Harris.

The CPS decided not to bring charges in September 2019 and in November Mr Ormesher’s family exercised their victims’ right to review that decision. In April 2020 the CPS advised them the decision remained to take no further action.

We shared a copy of our report and its findings with Mr Ormesher’s family and Sussex Police and the force agreed that PC Harris had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

Sussex Police arranged for a disciplinary panel to hear the evidence against PC Harris and on Thursday 16 July it decided the case was proven, at misconduct level only, on three of the five allegations and PC Harris was given a final written warning.

IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green recently said:

“Our sympathies remain with Mr Ormesher’s family and friends and all those affected by his death.

“We completed a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Ormesher’s death and the actions of PC Harris and Sussex Police agreed a gross misconduct panel should hear all of the evidence in the case. The threshold for bringing disciplinary proceedings is lower than those of criminal charges.

"Now a police disciplinary panel, independently chaired, has made its decision that three out of the five allegations were proven, amounting to misconduct and PC Harris has received a final written warning.”