Teenager's death after police pursuit ruled as misadventure
The death of a wanted teenager who was hit by a police vehicle after he got out of his moving car at the end of a pursuit was due to misadventure, an inquest has ruled.
Disqualified driver Kelvin Bainbridge, 19, was one of County Durham’s most wanted criminals when he was spotted behind the wheel of a Nissan Primera in October 2019, with four passengers including his mother and his pregnant partner.
He died after a six-minute pursuit through Spennymoor when he tried to exit the car while it was still moving, and suffered blunt head injury when he was struck by the front valance panel of a marked police BMW driven by Pc Paul Jackson.
The jury sitting at Crook, County Durham, accepted that the decision to pursue him and to continue the operation was correct, and was motivated to protect the public.
The jury concluded: “It is therefore determined that the death was caused by the misadventure of the deceased due to exiting a moving vehicle.”
Senior assistant coroner Crispin Oliver said “I wish you well in the future” to the Bainbridge family and the police officers involved in the case.
It can now be reported that Pc Jackson, described by a colleague at the inquest as a hard-working and “proactive” officer who looked to catch criminals at large, was part of the Police Interceptors documentary series on Channel 5.
During the two-week inquest, the jury heard that Pc Jackson had brought his vehicle to the side of the Primera, aiming to block off an alleyway.
Mr Bainbridge stumbled as he got out of the Primera and went under Pc Jackson’s car.
The officer was asked by Jamie Burton KC, for the family, if the decision to mount the kerb alongside the Primera was “highly dangerous”, as it was “all but inevitable” that his vehicle would hit Mr Bainbridge if he tried to flee.
Pc Jackson addressed Mr Bainbridge’s parents, Troy and Suzanne, and tearfully said: “I had no idea he would jump out of a moving car.
“In my mind’s eye, I had closed off the most likely escape route.
“I wanted Kelvin Bainbridge to get out of the car and think ‘shit, that way is closed’ and slow him down.
“I’m sorry Suzanne, Troy, I never went out of my way to hurt him, I just wanted to arrest him.”
Pc Jackson was a qualified police driver and armed response officer who had carried out hundreds of pursuits, and no-one had previously been injured, the inquest was told.
He said: “It’s a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach, all you want them to do is stop.
“You are constantly thinking, ‘do I stop, do I keep going’?”
He said, having watched footage of the pursuit again, his decision-making was correct, although “it went awfully wrong”.
Since the incident four years ago, he has not been involved in any more pursuits and no longer has a public-facing role and now trains recruits.
Mr Bainbridge had that morning taken his partner for her 20-week scan at hospital and they were “ecstatic” to find out they were due to have a boy, the inquest was told.
His mother said she screamed at him to stop during the police pursuit, which happened as they were heading back to Spennymoor, explaining to the jury she told him: “You will end up killing all of us in the car.”
Mrs Bainbridge said her son did not want to go back to prison, and she told jurors: “This was the last words he said to me, ‘I’m going to go to jail for this’.”
Durham Police had designated him as a “sector target”, meaning he was a known criminal in the area, and a person of interest to them.
He was wanted for burglary offences, had been before the courts 16 times, was convicted of 45 offences and had served six months in jail for grievous bodily harm.
Collision investigator Robin Turner told the inquest he had studied police in-car video footage as well as detailed technical data recordings of the vehicle’s movements.
He said Mr Bainbridge appeared to begin exiting the Nissan 1.2 seconds before the collision, and he was fully out around 0.92 seconds before.
Mr Turner told the inquest: “(Pc Jackson) did not have enough time to react to stop this happening.”