Death crash Pc tells jurors of his ‘childhood dream’ to help others

A Met officer accused over the deaths of a 10-year-old boy and his aunt following a police chase has told jurors that joining the force was his childhood “dream”.

Pc Edward Welch, 34, was in pursuit of a stolen Ford Focus car when it mounted the pavement and hit child actor Makayah McDermott and Rozanne Cooper, 34, in Penge, south-east London on August 31, 2016.

A second child, who was aged 10 at the time, was also seriously injured, the Old Bailey heard.

The court heard how during the six-minute chase through residential and one-way streets, Welch’s police BMW car reached speeds of more than 60mph.

The officer, from Chatham, Kent, has denied two charges of causing death by dangerous driving, one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and an alternative charge of dangerous driving.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Welch described joining the Metropolitan Police at the age of 20, having been brought up near Rochester, Kent.

He told jurors: “I have always wanted to be a police officer. It was my dream as a child. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

“I just wanted to help people. That is what police do – stop bad coming into the world, helping people.”

Welch, a married father-of-two, said he did his initial training in Hendon and had been based in the Bromley Borough throughout his career.

He described his training in advanced driving and said he had been in five pursuits of up to an hour in length before the fatal incident.

On August 31, 2016, Welch said he was notified that a lost or stolen Ford Focus had activated an ANPR camera on Penge High Street.

He responded with blue lights and sirens as he searched the local area including “crime hotspots” but did not locate the vehicle.

At about 2pm, he spotted it while he and his colleague were responding to a road traffic collision.

He told jurors: “There was traffic in front of us in Avenue Road, so I activated my blue lights and sirens to safely facilitate myself through the traffic towards the subject vehicle.

“I can categorically say he was driving at excess speed on Mackenzie Road.”

Asked what the aim of having lights and sirens on were, he said: “Alerting members of the public, pedestrians, and other road users of what’s going on.

“It’s a clear audible sign you have got a marked police vehicle behind and to stop.”

Welch told jurors he would speak out loud to focus his mind and his concentration was “through the roof”.

The defendant said he had been made aware the vehicle was involved in the theft of fuel but not about an earlier pursuit five days before in Kent.

The jury heard how Welch had assessed the risk at one point during the pursuit as “low”.

However, the prosecution alleged that on “any sensible analysis, the risk posed by the pursuit, taking account of the driving of both vehicles, was at a higher level of risk”.

When asked to explain his assessment at the time, Welch said his “visibility was good” and the road he was on was straight.

Joshua Dobby court case
Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Joshua Dobby (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Previously, the court has heard the vehicle that was being chased was driven by a 19-year-old man called Joshua Dobby.

He lost control of the car on Lennard Road, crashing into a bollard and crushing the three victims.

Dobby was later convicted of two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The trial continues.