Case Study

Death crash policewoman escapes prosecution for being on mobile phone... because it was on her lap

Incident date: 
Thu, 14 Feb 2013

A policewoman who repeatedly denied that she was talking on her mobile phone when she caused a fatal crash has escaped prosecution.

Despite a police investigator saying that Collette Carpenter ‘very likely contributed’ to the incident that killed motorbike rider David Bartholomew, the Crown Prosecution Service said there was no evidence she had committed an offence because the phone was on her lap and set to loudspeaker.

Miss Carpenter, 23, a special constable who has handed out at least six fixed penalty fines to motorists for using their mobile phones while driving, was talking on the phone when she drove into the path of David Bartholomew’s motorcycle, an inquest heard.

The father of two died hours later of horrific head injuries and multiple fractures.
When interviewed by police, Miss Carpenter repeatedly lied and said she was not on her phone.

She later said she briefly took a call before admitting she had been on the phone for the entire journey, but had had it on the loudspeaker in her lap.

Experienced motorcyclist Mr Bartholomew, 54, of Bere Regis, Dorset, was riding his Honda CBF1000 east along the A31 at 7.20am on March 20 last year when Miss Carpenter – who was off-duty – pulled out of a side road in Ferndown to go west in her Peugeot 206.

PC John Hayward, Dorset Police’s road crash investigator, told Bournemouth Coroner’s Court: ‘The use of her mobile phone can only have been a distraction and has very likely contributed to her not seeing the motorcyclist.’

A CPS spokeswoman said it did not have enough evidence to charge Miss Carpenter with causing death by careless or dangerous driving.
She said: ‘There was no evidence to support that Miss Carpenter was holding her phone at the time of the collision.’

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