Former Sussex Police officer cleared of misconduct after collision left pedestrian seriously hurt

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A former Sussex Police officer has appeared in front of a misconduct panel after a pedestrian was seriously hurt by his vehicle, whilst responding to an incident.

Sussex Police said PC Louie Wellfare, 30, ‘seriously injured a pedestrian’ while driving to an emergency incident in Brighton – but has been ‘cleared of any misconduct by a panel’.

"Following an investigation led by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), the IOPC directed that former PC Louie Wellfare, had a case to answer for Gross Misconduct,” a police spokesperson said.

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"Mr Wellfare appeared before a three-day misconduct hearing held at Horsham Police Station from Monday (July 8) in front of a panel led by an Independent Legally Qualified Chair (LQC).”

Sussex Police (Stock image / National World)Sussex Police (Stock image / National World)
Sussex Police (Stock image / National World)

LQCs are selected from a list of independent, legally-qualified persons to conduct police misconduct hearings, and are governed by Police Conduct Regulations, police said.

LQCs work with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and others to ‘instil and embed transparency and proportionality’ into misconduct hearings.

The police spokesperson added: “The panel was told that on July 17, 2019, the former police officer was responding to an emergency call in a marked police car and as he went to overtake a taxi which was turning right, he swerved and hit a pedestrian on the pavement. The man suffered serious leg injuries and was taken to hospital.

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“After considering all evidence, the panel found that Mr Wellfare’s conduct did not breach the police standards of professional behaviour, and the matter was dismissed.

“The IOPC began an investigation following a mandatory referral from Sussex Police shortly after the incident in 2019. It concluded that the officer should face a gross misconduct hearing for potential breaches of the standards of professional behaviour relating to his manner of driving.”

Police said the IOPC also referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, which in March 2021, decided to charge the officer with causing serious injury by dangerous driving. A year later, former PC Wellfare was acquitted of the charge following a trial at Brighton Crown Court, police said.

Following the outcome of the misconduct hearing, Detective Superintendent Andy Wolstenholme, deputy head of the force’s professional standards, said: “Sussex Police takes all matters of conduct seriously and always provide all support to any IOPC investigation.

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“Officers are expected to drive to the highest standards at all times, and receive specialist training to be able to meet the additional skill required to respond with blue lights and sirens.

"In this case, the panel, led by an LQC, made their decision based on all the evidence and were clear that former PC Wellfare’s conduct did not breach the standards of professional behaviour. Regardless of fault or blame, we are sorry that a member of the public was injured in this incident.

“Emergency response driving always comes with risk, but this is weighed against our need to get to incidents quickly in order to protect the public and catch criminals.”