Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Child JP (Name Subject to Suppression Order)

Inquest into the Death of Child JP (Name Subject to Suppression Order)

Delivered on :21 December 2021

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Urquhart

Recommendations :Yes

Recommendation No. 1

That the WA Police Force give priority to seeking funding to implement the installation of ‘dashcam’ technology in all police vehicles that undertake emergency driving, along with the associated infrastructure and personnel to manage and review footage.  The technology should, where possible, provide for real-time, live feed footage to the Police Operations Centre, so that this information can be used by the Duty Inspector as part of his or her decision making when running an evade police incident.

Recommendation No. 2

That for IAU investigations involving a fatality that may be the subject of a mandatory inquest under section 22(1)(b) of the Coroners Act 1996 (WA), the IAU always obtains a report or opinion from a relevant policy expert, unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.

Recommendation No. 3

That for IAU investigations involving a fatality that may be the subject of a mandatory inquest under section 22(1)(b) of the Coroners Act 1996 (WA, all subject officers are to be compulsorily interviewed (whether or not they have already provided statements to another section of the WA Police Force), unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.

Recommendation No. 4

That the WAPF investigate the feasibility of enabling a Duty Inspector, who has decided to terminate an evade police incident, to directly communicate that decision to police officers in vehicles that are involved in the evade police incident.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Yes

  1. Suppression of the deceased’s name from publication and any evidence likely to lead to the child’s identification. The deceased is to be referred to as Child JP.
  2. That there be no reporting or publication of the details of any of the versions of the WA Police Emergency Driving Policy and Guidelines, including, but not limited to, any cap on the speed at which police officers are authorised to drive.
  3. That there be no reporting or publication of the details of the WA Police document titled TR-07.16 Automated Vehicle Locator systems (AVLS).

Summary: Child JP, who was 16 years old at the time of his death, was attempting to evade a police intercept by the Western Australia Police Force and lost control of the car he was driving when performing an extremely dangerous overtaking manoeuvre of another car at excessive speed.  Child JP had been involved in three evade-police incidents prior to the crash that ended his life.

On 8 February 2018 Child JP was driving a red Nissan Pulsar. He did not hold a valid WA driver’s licence.  He had two teenage passengers in the vehicle with him.  At 5.30 pm, the Nissan which Child JP was driving was observed to be travelling at an excessive speed by police officers who were driving a marked police vehicle.  Police attempted to stop the Nissan but Child JP did not do so. The attempted intercept that followed was voluntarily terminated by the police officers when Child JP drove the Nissan onto the wrong side of the road to avoid a traffic queue.

The second evade-police incident occurred at 5.42 pm when the vehicle Child JP was driving was observed by another marked police vehicle. Again, Child JP did not stop the Nissan. The police officers followed the Nissan and stopped beside it as it was waiting to proceed through an intersection. One of the police officers alighted from the police vehicle and attempted to remove the keys from the ignition of the Nissan. Child JP then accelerated the Nissan away and struck another vehicle causing some minor damage to that vehicle. Due to that crash, the police officers aborted their attempted evade-police incident.

At 5.45 pm, the Nissan was observed at the intersection of Toodyay Road and Roe Highway by two detectives in an unmarked police vehicle. They followed behind the Nissan and then activated their emergency lights and siren. Child JP failed to stop. The detectives pursued the Nissan along Roe Highway, and followed it when it turned left on to Great Eastern Highway in Midvale. The Nissan then turned left into a Caltex Service Station and drove at an unsafe speed through the forecourt of the service station. It then turned right onto the incorrect side of Farrall Road, before turning left into the intersection with Great Eastern Highway, disobeying a red traffic control signal.  Notwithstanding this manner of driving, the two detectives continued their pursuit and also drove onto the incorrect side of Farrall Road and through the red traffic control light.

The Nissan then continued along Great Eastern Highway and was recorded travelling through a mobile speed camera which took two images with speeds of 128 and 127 kilometres an hour for the two vehicles, in an 80 kilometre an hour speed zone.  As the vehicles approached Bailey Road, other police officers attempted to stop the Nissan with a stinger tyre deflation device, however, the Nissan vehicle managed to avoid the stinger by driving at an estimated speed of 70-80 kilometres per hour through the gravel verge. In doing so it narrowly missed a police vehicle parked on the verge. Despite there being no other resolution strategy in place, the detectives did not abort their pursuit after the Nissan had evaded the stinger tyre deflation device

Near the intersection of Brooking Street, Hovea, the Nissan, in a final overtaking manoeuvre by Child JP, drove the vehicle onto the gravel median strip on the right hand side of the highway. In doing so, it travelled well in excess of the speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour. To avoid a post on the gravel verge, Child JP pulled back onto the highway. In doing so, he lost control of the Nissan vehicle which slid back across the dual lanes of the highway, before it struck one tree and then collied with a larger tree. Although Child JP was wearing a seatbelt, he died at the scene. The two passengers sustained serious injuries.

The detectives had pursued the Nissan for about 14 kilometres over a period of some seven minutes. Child JP had never given any indication he had any intention of stopping for the police in either this evade police incident or the two before it. 

The Coroner made comments and observations on the investigation conducted by the WA Police Internal Affairs Unit regarding the final evade police incident, which the Coroner found was lacking in a number of significant areas. In doing so, the Coroner found that the detectives had been wrongly exonerated by the IAU investigation.

The Coroner found that with respect to the final evade police incident, the two detectives did not comply with the Emergency Driving Policy by not aborting their pursuit before the final overtaking manoeuvre by the Nissan. The Coroner found that their failure to do so contributed to Child JP’s death.

The Coroner made four recommendations aimed at addressing the issues which were identified during the inquest hearing.

Catch Words : Evade Police Incident : Compulsory Interviews for Police involved in a fatality : DashCam Technology : Emergency Driving Policy and Guidelines : Accident

Last updated: 22-Mar-2022

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