Liverpool news Police officer who agreed crash was her fault now says it wasn't PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - She denies responsibility for hitting a tree when a colleague suffered a broken kneecap
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! A police officer who had accepted a crash that left a colleague with a broken kneecap was her fault now says it wasn't. Rebecca Latham denies causing serious injury by dangerous driving in a police Ford Transit van on a roundabout on Formby Bypass. Prosecutors say the 27-year-old, of Ilford Avenue, Crosby, was going "super fast" when she hit a Toyota Landcruiser and a tree. Her passenger, Constable Kamal Toumi, also suffered a torn patellar tendon and 17 months later hasn't been able to return to work. Latham was interviewed in March 2020 about the crash, which happened at a junction with Liverpool Road, at around 7pm, on December 4, 2019. Liverpool Crown Court has heard she then accepted responsibility for losing control and that she thought her speed was the cause of this. Latham also accepted her driving "fell below the standard of a competent and careful driver" - the legal test for the offence of careless driving. The legal test for dangerous driving is "far below". Before Latham gave evidence, Judge Andrew Menary, QC, told the jury he had directed a charge of careless driving be added to the indictment. He said the Merseyside Police officer also denied this offence. Latham told jurors she was given a "quite limited" disclosure of information ahead of her interview. The officer said she was informed she was doing 50mph when she entered the roundabout and that there were no defects with the van, but not given any data about braking. Richard Orme, defending, asked why she had accepted responsibility. The scene of a collision between a police van and a Toyota 4X4 on the Formby Bypass. (Image: LIVERPOOL ECHO) She replied: "Because I assumed that it must have been that I had braked too late because I agreed that 50mph was too fast going through that roundabout." Mr Orme said prosecution and defence experts both agreed in their evidence that she did not brake too late and asked what her stance was now. Latham said: "Had I known the full circumstances, in that there is potential brake fade, there is the potential of contaminants on the road... I think I did myself a disservice in being perhaps too hasty in making a full admission, because it was my assumption that it must have been my fault." In a prepared statement at her interview she said: "I accept my driving fell below the standard of a competent and careful driver and I very much regret this." Mr Orme asked: "Knowing what you now know, do you still accept that your driving fell below the standard of a competent and careful driver?" "No," Latham replied. Asked why, she said: "Because it had been my assumption that the reason the speed was too high was because I did not brake in time, and I now know I did." Latham earlier explained "it was always my hope to join the police", which she did aged 22 in September 2016. Based at Crosby station, in her service prior to the crash, she received a commendation for work supporting a bereaved family. Rebecca Latham has previously received a commendation for her work for Merseyside Police (Image: Liverpool Echo) Latham said she got her driving licence in 2017, then twice failed a basic police driving course - allowing officers to drive police vehicles, but not activate emergency sirens. She passed the basic course in 2018, then failed a response driver course, but passed it in January 2019, allowing her to attend emergency calls. The officer said all of these courses only involved around 30 minutes of driving a van. She said in the 10 months or so before the crash she was involved in more than 100 emergency runs, but only drove vans around five times and an automatic van once previously. Get our free Echo Court Files newsletter Liverpool's courts are some of the busiest in the UK, with a huge variety of cases being heard each week. To get a behind the scenes look at how they work and the moments that don't make our stories, subscribe to our free weekly Echo Court Files newsletter, written by court reporters Neil Docking and Lauren Wise. How do I sign up? It's free, easy and takes no time at all. First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre. Once you're there, put your email address where it says at the top, then click on the Echo Court Files button.
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Mr Orme asked if she was a "prudent" and a "safe" driver, to which Latham replied: "Yes, I would say so." The court heard she and Constable Toumi had responded to an emergency incident in Bootle that day. They then received a "Grade 1" call to Southport and were the "sole" responder - despite it being 16 miles away - as no other patrols were available. Latham said: "It was a domestic incident, I believe that a female had rung the police requesting assistance, there was some sort of altercation with perhaps an ex-partner. It was potentially violent." Prosecutors allege Latham's driving was "aggressive" when a car wouldn't move out of her way on Dunnings Bridge Road and she drove close to its rear, when she could have over or undertaken it. Latham said she couldn't overtake as they were both in the outside lane and undertaking risked being "side swiped" if the car ahead moved left, so she relied on her sirens until it moved and remained "calm", maintaining a safe distance.
She accepted on the bypass saying "70, 70, come on 80" to Constable Toumi because she was more used to driving cars and the van felt "sluggish", but couldn't recall "rocking" in her seat and wasn't "aggressive". Latham said she was doing around 89mph on the bypass, which was appropriate, before she reached the roundabout, which she had encountered more than 50 times previously on emergency calls, but not in a van. Mr Orme said experts now agreed Latham didn't brake too late and she "could have stopped".
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Latham confirmed with Judge Menary that her view was 50mph was "too fast" to enter the roundabout. Mr Orme said: "Yes, the issue is whether it's your fault the vehicle was going 50mph when it entered the roundabout, or whether it was the vehicle's fault." Andrew Ford, prosecuting, interjected and said "I'm sorry, that's not the issue in this case" and Mr Orme replied: "It is." Latham said she wanted to come to almost a stop to assess whether it was safe to proceed so "I pressed that brake hard". She agreed the van slowed but "didn't decelerate enough" and it was a "heart in mouth moment".
Rebecca Latham denies responsibility for a crash that left a colleague with a broken kneecap
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
Prosecutors previously said Constable Toumi saw a car on the roundabout and tried to warn Latham, who turned the wheel sharply to avoid a collision. Latham said the roundabout was clear, but she was "fully aware that I was going too fast". She said things became a bit "blurry" for her, in that she knew she steered to the right and hit the Toyota, "but I personally can't recall it". The officer said she remembered hitting the tree and thinking there was smoke in the cab - which was their airbags deploying - radioing for help and shouting "Kamel are you okay?", then seeing blood on his airbag. Latham described checking on her colleague and requesting an ambulance, but said she didn't know whether he was wearing a seat belt.
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Mr Orme asked why in her interview Latham said she didn't think he was wearing one, which is contrary to Constable Toumi's evidence. Latham said: "From the pictures I was provided with, there was a stark contrast between the way that my seat belt looked and the way his looked. "On the pictures mine was locked out and slack, and his was tight against the seat. From that I thought he might not have worn his." Can you help us keep Merseyside covered? After the crash, the van was found to be in fifth gear, which prosecutors say supports the allegation it was driven at "excessive speed". Latham said she couldn't recall what gear she was in, but her training was to go down to a more responsive gear such as second or third and she wouldn't want to enter a roundabout in fifth. She said this is why she offered the explanation "possibly it had been knocked by either myself or post-collision." (Proceeding)
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