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Family blame man’s death on police failings

Posted in: Public Liability Road Traffic Accidents 

The family of an 83-year-old man who was killed by a police van has blamed his death on “significant failures” by West Yorkshire Police. The accident happened when Donald Bennett was sitting in Pudsey Park in Leeds. A police van had been parked on a slope in the park, but the driver had failed to leave the vehicle in gear. The van began to travel down the hill two minutes after PC Claire Bugler had left the vehicle, causing it to hit Mr Bennett. It was heard that the chest injuries caused by the force led to his subsequent death.

The accident happened in June 2013, with the Wakefield Coroner Court jury finding the death to be accidental. The family’s lawyer, Eleanor Fry, however, said that there were “significant areas that could be improved” following the accident, and drew up a list of recommendations regarding police staff training.

“a tragic accident”

It was heard in court that West Yorkshire Police have in fact implemented a number of the recommended changes since the death of Mr Bennett. These included replacing vehicle parts after every 60,000 miles and carrying out more regular checks of police vehicles.

Mr Bennett’s son-in-law, John O’Leary, said that if only these checks had been put in place earlier, Mr Bennett would not have lost his life.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “This was a tragic incident and our thoughts today are, first and foremost, with Mr Bennett’s family, to whom we sincerely apologise.

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