Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Deaths of Glenys Joy FORBES and Kevin Hugh FORBES

Inquest into the Death of Glenys Joy FORBES and Kevin Hugh FORBES

Delivered on : 17 October 2019

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner King

Recommendations : Yes

I recommend that WAPOL consider amending the Emergency Driving Policy and Guidelines to provide clear, concise instructions to police officers with respect to circumstances where commencing pursuits is and is not appropriate and where pursuits, once commenced, should be terminated.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Yes

On the basis that it would be contrary to the public interest, there is to 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.

Summary : At the time of their deaths Mr and Mrs Forbes were in a vehicle which was struck by another vehicle being driven by a 16 year old boy at high speed while being pursued by police officers in a police car.

On the evening of 17 September 2016 Mr and Mrs Forbes were passengers in a car being driven by their son north on Ballantine Road in Warwick. They stopped at the T-intersection with Warwick Drive with the intention to turn right. After checking for oncoming traffic, the deceased son pulled out into the intersection to make the turn. As he so a Ford sedan (the Ford) came over the hill and crashed into the driver’s side of the car. Mrs Forbes died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash. Mr Forbes was taken to Royal Perth Hospital where he died from his injuries shortly after arrival. Their son survived but was left with ongoing disabilities.

Earlier, two police officers in an unmarked police car had stopped at traffic lights on Wanneroo Road. Beside them was the Ford, containing a driver and one passenger. The driver looked young, and a check of the vehicle’s registration number indicated that the vehicle was registered to an older man of no fixed place of abode in Mandurah who was subject to an arrest warrant.

The police officers decided to stop the Ford to check the driver’s identification. They activated the lights and sirens and placed a portable blue flashing light on the roof. The Ford did not stop or slow down in response to the lights and sirens. The officers pursued the Ford at high speeds while they called the Police Operations Centre (POC) to request authorisation to engage in pursuit driving.   Just as the POC attempted to instruct them to abort the pursuit, the crash occurred, which the officers witnessed.

The 18 year old female passenger in the Ford sustained injuries, but they were not life-threatening. The 16 year old driver of the vehicle ran from the scene and evaded one of the officers who chased him on foot; however, he was arrested about 90 minutes after the crash. The driver was charged with two counts of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of Mr and Mrs Forbes, as well as charges of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving causing bodily harm to his female passenger and to the Forbes’ son. He pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced.

The Deputy State Coroner made one recommendation relating to improving the Emergency Driving Policy and Guideline to be as clear and concise as possible.

Catch Words : Police Pursuit : WA Police Emergency Driving Policy and Guidelines : Unlawful Homicide

Last updated: 9-Jul-2020

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