A coroner’s inquest into the death of a Wakefield pedestrian, who was hit by a dangerous driver, has concluded with a verdict of unlawful killing by way of gross negligence manslaughter.
On 9 June 2020, 44-year-old ASLEF member Andrew Kitson was walking to his local shop on Leeds Road, Outwood in Wakefield when a driver, trying to escape a police chase, hit him. The fatal injuries he sustained led to him being pronounced dead at the scene.
The three day inquest [1-3 March 2022] concluded that Mr Kitson was unlawfully killed.
The driver of the vehicle, Adam Badkin, had been spotted to be illegally using a phone while driving and not wearing a seatbelt when the police pursuit began, and at the time of hitting Mr Kitson, he was travelling at approximately 90mph on the wrong side of the road. At the time of the pursuit, Mr Badkin, who is now serving a six year sentence, was also banned from driving.
The jury heard evidence of how the police pursued 22-year-old Mr Badkin for around two and a half miles before he crashed and tried to flee the vehicle. He was detained a short distance away.
The police officers stated that, as they walked back to the vehicles, they were approached by a member of the public who informed them there was an injured person on a driveway.
Mr Kitson’s wife, Jessica Kitson, said: “Andrew was the most loving, loyal and thoughtful man – an exemplary husband. Our lives together have been so unfairly cut short.
“He should have been safe walking along a 30mph road, yet, an already convicted dangerous driver, who failed to stop for the police, took my husband away from me forever.
“I very much hope the police force remember the impact this has had on my family, and in future, carefully consider whether a pursuit warrants the risk of a dangerous driver killing another innocent person, like Andrew.”
An independent investigation launched by The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) found that the traffic officers pursuing Mr Badkin acted in accordance with the relevant policies and that their pursuit was appropriate. The evidence presented to them suggested that the police actions contributed to the accident but it was Mr Badkin’s decision not to stop when requested, and to drive recklessly, that ultimately resulted in Mr Kitson’s death.
Phil Kyte, who is representing Mrs Kitson, said: “On behalf of Andrew’s family and Jessica, I would like to thank the coroner and jury for taking the time to listen to all of the evidence that has been placed before them and considering it carefully before reaching their decision.
“Jess, her family and Andrew’s, are devastated at their loss. Although nothing can bring Andrew back, the family are grateful that the coroner has sent a report to the Mayor of West Yorkshire as well as the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police. We sincerely hope that they will take on board the concerns that have been raised and revisit how they conduct road pursuits to ensure that lessons are learnt and other families are spared the heartache my client has had to go through.”