£425,000 payout for PC’s family
The family of an heroic Bristol policeman who was mown down and killed by a teenage car thief yesterday won £425,000 in compensation at the High Court in London.
PC Steve Jones deployed a “stinger” device on the M4 near the Second Severn Crossing to try to catch 16-year-old Gregor Masters, at the wheel of a stolen car, in May 1999.
Masters, who was later jailed for four years for causing PC Jones’ death by dangerous driving, swerved at the last moment and cut down the 34-year-old, from Bradley Stoke.
The family’s barrister, Stephen Worthington, said Masters, now 19, from Bedford, told officers after the accident: “I love police chases. I can’t get enough of them.”
Tributes paid to father-of-two PC Jones after his death included the laying of a wreath at his grave by Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The policeman’s widow, Heather, 37, was in court yesterday to hear details of the six-figure award.
The couple’s two children, Bronwen and Kieran, were aged just six and four at the time of the tragedy.
Approving the settlement, Lord Carlile QC extended his sympathy to the family and said PC Jones had clearly been a determined, intelligent and resourceful officer, as well as an excellent father.
Mrs Jones said after the hearing: “It was gratifying to hear the judge giving such a glowing testimonial to Steve for his work as a police officer.
“To us he was more than that. He was a wonderful father and husband, and no amount of money can ever bring him back.”
Masters was uninsured and the £425,000 settlement will be paid by the insurers of the stolen car which he was driving.
Earlier the family’s barrister Mr Worthington had described how Masters had stolen the car from Melksham in Wiltshire and was travelling with his girlfriend when the police gave chase.
The teenager had driven away without paying from a petrol station, and during the police pursuit the stolen car reached speeds of up to 115mph.
PC Jones accurately guessed the route Masters would take and set up the “stinger” on the M4 near its junction with the M48 before the car approached at 90-100mph.
PC Jones was hit as he returned to his police vehicle.
The award was only confirmed after the insurers of the stolen car which killed PC Jones withdrew a claim that Avon and Somerset Constabulary should be held partly responsible for his death.
They had claimed that PC Jones had not been adequately trained and supervised in the use of a stinger.
But the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset hotly disputed the claim, arguing that PC Jones was an experienced traffic officer who had been properly trained to use the device and the claim was withdrawn before the court hearing.
Simon Freedland QC, for the chief constable, said Masters’ dangerous driving was the “sole and effective” cause of PC Jones’s death.
“Bristol Evening Post” 6th February 2003