A Met Police officer has been dismissed and placed on the barred list after he was found guilty of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving. PC Daniel Francis was sentenced on February 4 to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and 240 hours unpaid work. The gross misconduct summary states: “On November 1, 2019, PC Daniel Francis was driving a marked police vehicle which was fitted with blue lights and warning equipment.
“Whilst on Whitton Road, Hounslow, PC Francis attempted to catch up with another vehicle but did not activate his blue lights or warning equipment. Whilst approaching Hounslow train station at speeds approaching 60mph in a 20 mph limit, PC Francis collided with two pedestrians on a zebra crossing. One pedestrian died of the injuries he sustained, the second was seriously injured.”
Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball found that Francis has committed gross misconduct and he was dismissed without notice, and placed on the barred list. The 33-year-old ex- police officer was speeding at three times the limit when he drove into 23-year-old Andrew Brown. The Old Bailey heard that Francis and two other officers were due to finish their shift at 10pm but volunteered to continue working until 3am.
Just before 12am, the officers saw occupants of a black Nissan throwing a firework and driving away at speed. They followed the car to get its reg number and, despite being in a 20mph zone, reached 61mph within 15 seconds of the pursuit. Their car did not have blue lights or sirens on.
Francis claimed this was to avoid alerting the Nissan car that they were being followed. On the approach to Hounslow railway station, Brown and one other pedestrian stepped onto the zebra crossing. Though Francis used brakes and tried to swerve, a collision was “unavoidable”.
Brown suffered severe injuries after his head came into contact with the police car’s windscreen. Three officers administered CPR, restored a pulse, and the victim was rushed to St George’s Hospital, Tooting but sadly died of his injuries on November 5. A 16-year-old boy also suffered soft tissue injuries and multiple lacerations but has since full recovered.
Brown’s mum, Isabel, read an emotional victim impact statement to the court. She told The Old Bailey that her son had “loved life” and was a “unique combination of kind, clever and artistic”, who planned to travel to South America. He had moved to London for a job in the Ministry of Defence, and he had ambitions in working for disaster relief agencies.
His mum said he had his “entire life ahead of him”. Isabel spoke about how Francis had been on a ventilator with a collapsed lung and broken shoulder. She said: “Andrew was not planning to die on November 5.
“He had plans, he had a future and this was taken from him. He was 23 years old. We will miss him forever and we will be heartbroken forever,” she said.
Officer tried to save man’s life
Francis pled guilty in December 2021 to one count of causing death by careless driving and was released on unconditional bail. His lawyer, Edmund Gritt told the court: “First and perhaps the most important thing of which I have to say is to repeat in public, in the presence of Mr and Mrs Brown and their daughter, that he is so very sorry for causing the death of their son and her brother.
“He does not accept that his apology could make the impact of his actions any easier but he wants to make that apology to them. He also apologises to his family for the trauma he has caused.” He told the court that Francis had been in the Met since 2008 and had first worked as a community police officer before transferring to the emergency response team.
“Immediately after the collision, he tried as best as he could to save Mr Brown’s life by administering chest compressions and he and his colleagues did succeed in restoring a pulse but he had received catastrophic injuries”, Mr Gritt said. The court heard that Francis had taken “full ownership” over Brown’s death and had expressed “genuine remorse”, which led to him being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Prosecutor Michael Shaw said: “He made a decision which the Crown accepts was in the realms of his discretion not to activate the blue lights and sirens.”
Judge Hilliard told the court: “This was not in my judgement a momentary lapse of due care, this was a brief episode, even though the driving was to investigate a thrown firework.” Speaking of Brown, he said: “It was a life of talent and promise in which, I am sure, he would have contributed much to others. We are all the poorer for his passing.
“I shall make it plain that the sentence I must pass is in no way able to equate to the value of the life that has been lost. That life is infinitely precious and cannot be measured in any way.” He added: “This offence is so serious that a community sentence could not be justified. I am satisfied that a sentence of imprisonment is unavoidable.”
Officer avoids jail
Francis was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years alongside 240 hours of unpaid work. The ex-police officer is subject to rehabilitation and a 6pm until 8am curfew. He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months.
Simon Ringrose, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “PC Francis admitted that his driving fell below the standard of a competent and careful driver and that this driving caused the death of Andrew Brown. Although PC Francis has now been sentenced for this offence I am acutely aware that this can never reflect the devastating impact that Andrew’s death has had on his family and friends. I do however hope that the guilty plea and sentence offer some resolution to this aspect of this tragic case.”
Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, of Scotland Yard, said: “This is a very sad case. Our thoughts are with Mr Brown’s family and friends and we offer our sincere condolences for their loss. The IOPC, which is fully independent of the police, launched an investigation into this case and we fully co-operated. Our officers are aware that if their driving falls below the expected standard, they can be prosecuted and brought to account.”