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Inquest into the Death of Sean BRUCE

Inquest into the Death of Sean BRUCE

Delivered on :16 September 2015

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Linton

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Yes

No publication of any discussion in relation to the Police Emergency Driving Policy & Guidelines, or operations.

Summary : The deceased was riding a motorcycle along Warton Road, Huntingdale at approximately 8:20pm on 17 May 2012.  He failed to negotiate a roundabout and collided with a handrail and safety barrier.  He sustained life-threatening injuries in the collision and died the following day at Royal Perth Hospital.  Prior to the crash the deceased had been observed by two police officers who were riding police motorcycles in the opposite direction.  The police officers turned around and activated their emergency lights, with the intention of intercepting the deceased.  However, they were still some distance behind the deceased’s motorcycle when the motorcycle crashed.

The issues which were explored at the inquest hearing were whether the actions of the two police officers could be said to have caused or contributed to the deceased’s driving and what could be discerned from the evidence as to the deceased’s state of mind at the time he accelerated his motorcycle and subsequently lost control.

Evidence was provided to the Coroner from an expert witness on clinical pharmacology and toxicology about levels at which particular illicit drugs can impair the ability to drive.  The Coroner accepted the evidence of the expert witness as to how the deceased’s methylamphetamine and cannabis use were likely to have affected his ability to drive his motorcycle.  The results of the toxicology reports, would indicate that the deceased did have an impaired ability to drive and make good decisions at the time when he was seen to accelerate.  The Coroner concluded that if the deceased had seen the two police officers following him the effects of the drugs would have made him more likely to decide to engage in a high speed pursuit to try to evade them.  The Coroner also concluded that had the deceased not seen the two police officers, the effects of the drugs still made him more likely to take unnecessary risks, such as driving the motorcycle at an excessively high speed just for fun.

The Coroner found that the deceased had developed a serious drug addiction that was affecting his judgment and ability to make good decisions in his life generally.  On the evening of the crash, the deceased was intoxicated with a combination of methylamphetamine and cannabis when he chose, either because of the police presence or not, to accelerate heavily and drive at approximately twice the speed limit on a residential road.

The Coroner found that the deceased died on 18 May 2012 at Royal Perth Hospital as a result of multiple injuries and death arose by way of Accident.

The Coroner found there was no evidence that the conduct of the two police officers directly caused or contributed to the death of the deceased.

Catch Words : Police Pursuits : Methylamphetamine and Cannabis affecting judgment and ability to make good decisions : Motorcycle : Accident

Last updated: 25-Sep-2015

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