Jury inquest into death of Hastings pedestrian finds police emergency response ‘justified’

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A police officer’s response to an emergency call which resulted in the death of a Hastings pedestrian was ‘appropriate and justified’, a jury has concluded.

Mr Sutton, 46, of Silchester Road, Hastings, died on the evening of March 12, 2014, after he collided with a police car being driven by PC Matt Morris on the A259 at White Rock.

PC Morris was pursuing a suspected disqualified driver on a grade one emergency call at the time of the collision.

Inspector Steve Grace, Surrey and Sussex Road Policing Unit, said: “This is a very distressing time for Mr Sutton’s family and our thoughts are with them, his friends and all those involved.”

Inspector Grace said a full investigation was carried out by the IPCC which advised there was ‘no case to answer’ on the part of the driver of the car and said there would be no further action.

He added: “Hopefully the conclusion of the inquest can help to bring some form of closure to the family and to all those involved.

A majority conclusion from the jury found the police officer’s decision to use emergency response was ‘appropriate and justified’.

The jury said Mr Sutton died of multiple injuries caused by a road traffic collision and added that the presence of ‘cannabinoids and ethanol’ in his system contributed to his death.

Helga Akitt, Mr Sutton’s sister, said James experienced ‘traumatic’ events in his life, which could have contributed to his alcoholism and depression.

She said Mr Sutton was ‘passionate’ about his job and said things had been ‘looking up for him’.

Ms Akitt said it was ‘obvious’ he loved his daughter Chloe ‘very much’, and wanted to be a good father to her.

In a statement read to the court, Ms Akitt said: “I was very proud of the man James had become. He was kind and caring and very emotionally intelligent. We would have dinner together and laugh and share silly jokes.

“The last year has been a complete blur and not a day goes by when I don’t think about my beautiful brother. James will always live in our hearts.”

Alan Craze, senior coroner for East Sussex said: “This has been a difficult and serious inquest and of course, for a number of people a tragic inquest.”

He described Mr Sutton’s death as ‘wholly unexpected’ and ‘untimely’ and gave his condolences to his family.