A POLICE car which knocked down and killed a man in South Tyneside was being driven by an officer responding to a call from a man threatening to take his own life, an inquest has heard.
Vincent Gibson, of Shaw Avenue, Biddick Hall, South Shields, was hit by the car in Whiteleas Way, South Shields, on January 7, 2012.
The 50-year-old died from multiple injuries, and an inquest, led by South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney, is being held at Moot Hall, Newcastle.
Mr Gibson, a father-of-two, was pronounced dead at South Tyneside District Hospital, and the tragedy was subject to an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation.
Yesterday, the jury heard how one potential tragedy led to another.
Northumbria Police call handler Jill Maddison-Taylor said she was working in the South Shields control room and took the call at 10.13pm.
She said: “A call came in over the 999 system from a distressed male. He was threatening to harm himself.”
Mrs Maddison-Taylor said her main goal was to establish where the man was and get him some help.
She said that, four minutes after the call was received, a log had been created, categorising the incident as Grade One – which is given to any call which involves a threat to someone’s life.
The caller’s number was traced to an address in South Shields and police were dispatched, but the man later said he was “in a field looking at the moon”, but refused to disclose his location. The jury members chose to listen to a recording of the 999 call, but only up until the moment the log was created.
The man sounded clearly distressed and cried as he told Mrs Maddison-Taylor that he wanted to end his life.
The inquest heard that two patrol cars responded to a call from the control room to visit the caller’s home address.
It was on the way that the first car hit Mr Gibson at 10.24pm.
Mrs Maddison-Taylor said she spoke to the caller, in total, for about 45 minutes, and was unaware of the collision that had killed Mr Gibson.
The caller was later tracked down by police and taken to South Tyneside District Hospital.
He was later arrested for being drunk and disorderly and taken to the hospital’s Bede Wing, where his care was handed over to nurses from the crisis team.
The inquest continues today.