Inquest concludes following death of man following police pursuit in Spennymoor

Published: 29 Sep 2023

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the circumstances of a fatal collision in Spennymoor found no case to answer for the driver of a Durham Constabulary car involved.

Kelvin Bainbridge died after being struck by a marked police car on Hawthorn Road on 18 October 2019.

Our investigation, which concluded in July 2020, found the officer pursued a Nissan Primera, which was being driven by Mr Bainbridge and had failed to stop for police.

The pursuit lasted just under six minutes before Mr Bainbridge exited the car while it was still moving. As he did so he lost his footing and was struck by the police car.

An inquest, which concluded today (29 September) at Crook Coroners’ Court returned a narrative conclusion, stating Mr Bainbridge died as a result of misadventure.

IOPC Regional Director Emily Barry said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and loved ones of Mr Bainbridge, as well as those affected by his death.

“We carried out a thorough investigation, independently of the police, to help understand the tragic events of that day. Evidence gathered by IOPC investigators was shared with the Coroner to inform the inquest.

“As that process has now come to an end, we are now in a position to share the findings of our investigation, which concluded in 2020.”

We began our investigation following a mandatory referral from Durham Constabulary on 18 October 2019.

We reviewed a substantial amount of evidence, including police dash-cam, body-worn video and CCTV footage. We also spoke to a significant number of witnesses, including members of the public and police, and reviewed the relevant police policies, training and guidance.

In November 2019, we informed the driver of the police vehicle that they were under investigation for a potential driving offence, as well as alleged breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour.

The evidence showed that on the day in question an off-duty police officer spotted Mr Bainbridge driving the Nissan. At the time Mr Bainbridge, who had never held a driving license and was disqualified from driving, was wanted by police for burglary and failure to attend court. The police driver located Mr Bainbridge, on Front Street at 2.30pm. The Nissan drove away from the police vehicle and a pursuit was authorised.

A short time later, at 2.34pm, the Nissan was involved in a collision with a Renault Megane being driven by a member of the public at the junction of Edward Street and St Paul’s Street. It again failed to stop and the pursuit continued.

At 2.36pm, the Nissan was travelling along Central Drive and then turned on to Hawthorn Road heading directly towards a brick wall. As the Nissan slowed, the police car, which was travelling closely behind, moved to the Nissan’s offside.

In their statements, the police driver told IOPC investigators this was to prevent the Nissan being used to “reverse ram” the police car and to cut off a potential escape route for the driver. They added they had not expected Mr Bainbridge to exit the car while it was still moving.

While both cars were still in motion, Mr Bainbridge got out of the Nissan using the driver’s door and ran across the path of the police car. As he did so he appeared to stumble and was struck by the front of the police car.

He suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

On conclusion of the investigation, we determined there was sufficient evidence to indicate the police officer may have committed a criminal offence and, as required by law, made a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

At that time, we informed Durham Constabulary and Mr Bainbridge’s family of our provisional opinion that a panel could conclude that the driver’s actions amounted to gross misconduct.

In December 2020, we received a detailed response from Durham Constabulary challenging this view. Following a careful review of the evidence, including additional external information requested following the conclusion of the investigation, in April 2021 we informed the relevant parties of our decision that the officer had no case to answer in respect of their conduct.

In October 2021, the CPS informed us that it would not be authorising charges against the officer. A Victim’s Right to Review of the CPS decision not to charge, requested by the family, was not upheld and we were notified of this decision in March 2022.

Ms Barry added: “Nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one, particularly in such tragic circumstances. However, our independent investigation and the inquest have ensured that the events leading up to the death of Mr Bainbridge have been carefully scrutinised.

“We found national pursuit training did not cover situations where a driver attempts to escape on foot. While the use of the police car to block a potential escape route was not an expressly authorised tactic, there was no guidance or training preventing a police driver from doing so where they believed it was proportionate and necessary.

“Now the inquest has concluded we will consider whether to issue any organisational or national recommendations in respect of this issue, or any other matter identified during the investigation.” 

  • Durham Constabulary
  • Road traffic incidents