High-speed crash West Mercia Police officer cleared of dangerous driving
A police officer who crashed his BMW patrol car as he drove through a Shropshire village at almost 100 mph has been cleared of dangerous driving.
Constable Mark Milton, 46, was found not guilty by a jury at Worcester Crown Court today following a six-day trial.
The West Mercia officer, a qualified advanced driver, of Pendrel Close, Market Drayton, had denied that he was driving dangerously in October, 2011.
During the trial the court heard that the officer had been on duty when his marked BMW 5 Series patrol car reached a top speed of 108mph driving north on the A442 at Cold Hatton.
The car had struck a 'splitter' traffic island in the centre of the road before mounting a grass verge, shredding a tyre and damaging the car's suspension. No other vehicles were involved and the car's airbag was inflated, but the defendant was not injured.
The court heard that there had been earlier 'radio traffic' mentioning a possible stolen Audi and PC Milton had later told officers he believed he had seen the vehicle ahead on the A442 in Telford and tried to catch it to check the registration.
He admitted driving at 'some speed' and at Cold Hatton had pulled out to pass a parked car on the left, but saw the splitter island too late and collided with it and then the verge.
PC Milton denied his speed had caused the crash and said a dazzling light to his right had temporarily distracted his eyes from the road.
He accepted being 'in a hurry' as he headed back towards Whitchurch, but was always in control of the car.
He told the jury he had been a police officer for 21 years and an advanced driver since 1995 and was experienced at driving at high speed.
The prosecution had conceded that the reflective blue and yellow sign on the splitter island was not visible at the time.
Analysis of the BMW's data recorder showed the car's maximum speed in the village was 108mph and was 92mph at the time of the crash and the average speed was 98mph.
Mr Pat Sullivan, prosecuting, had alleged that at the time of the 10.30pm incident that PC Milton's driving had been 'grossly excessive' on a section of road controlled by a 40mph speed limit.
This was the second time that PC Milton had faced trial accused of dangerous driving while on duty in a West Mercia police vehicle.
In an incident 10 years ago the speed of a Vauxhall Vectra driven by PC Milton was recorded by an onboard video and showed a top speed of 159mph on the M54 motorway and 120mph on the A5 near Telford.
Following a trial at Ludlow magistrates court in May, 2005, the officer was cleared of dangerous driving and speeding by District Judge Bruce Morgan.
At the time PC Milton said he had been 'testing' the car's capabilities and 'honing' his skills during the 3am incident on December 5, 2003.
An appeal by the Crown Prosecution Service lead to a second hearing in August, 2006, when District Judge Peter Wallis decided PC Milton was guilty of the offences, but imposed no driving ban or penalty points and gave him an absolute discharge.
In October, 2006, PC Milton appealed against the conviction and in April, 2007, the High Court ruled that the case needed "reconsideration".
District Judge Wallis reviewed his decision in July, 2007, and after watching the video recording again, ruled that his original decision to convict PC Milton of dangerous driving was correct.
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