‘Angry dad’s mood a factor’ in 999 tragedy

TRAGIC DEATH ... Vincent Gibson was killed in Whiteleas Way in January 2012.
TRAGIC DEATH ... Vincent Gibson was killed in Whiteleas Way in January 2012.

A SOUTH Tyneside dad killed after being hit by a police car may have misjudged his own safety because he was in an angry mood, an inquest heard.

Vincent Gibson, of Shaw Avenue, Biddick Hall, South Shields, was hit by a police car, which was responding to an emergency, in the town’s Whiteleas Way on January 7, 2012.

The 50-year-old’s death was the subject of an investigation by Durham Constabulary, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

An inquest had earlier heard that the dad-of-two had been out to see Newcastle United play Blackburn Rovers in a FA Cup tie, at St James’s Park.

His widow Sandra said she received a phone call from her husband at 8.15pm that night asking to be picked up from Bede Metro station.

However, they had a disagreement about whether to go out for lunch the next day, and at 8.30pm Mr Gibson left their home, saying he was going back out.

Professor Jonathan Chick, a consultant psychiatrist brought in by the Durham force to provide a report, said the level of alcohol in Mr Gibson’s blood and the fact he had an earlier disagreement with his wife, could have affected his behaviour.

He said that there was no suggestion of a suicidal intent, but that Mr Gibson’s perception of the fast-moving vehicle coming towards him and his safety in stepping out into the road, may have been “computed wrongly or slowly”.

Professor Chick: “I believe there was a possible contribution to this awful incident both from the mood he was in and the level of alcohol that was in his body.

“He might have been behaving in a compulsive way because he was angry.

Collision investigator Graham Greatrix was also called in to help with the investigation and presented his hearings at the inquest.

He had been asked to say how visible Mr Gibson would have been to the driver, Pc Lisa Lumley, and whether she could have done anything different.

Mr Greatrix explained how Mr Gibson would have appeared as a “darkish object against a darkish background” and that contrast would have been poor.

He also said parked cars in the vicinity would have hidden Mr Gibson from the view of the driver and that the footpath was “masked” by the vehicles.

He said Pc Lumley reacted very quickly to seeing something and carried out a full, harsh brake, or an emergency stop.

He added that if Pc Lumley had have been driving at 44 to 45mph – rather than the recorded 66mph – and had reacted at the same time, she would have stopped before she got to Mr Gibson.

However, he said: “Understandably, with Grade One calls, the idea is to get there as quickly and as safely as possible.

“The road appeared to be clear, so why would she go any slower?”

He said there were no pedestrians to see until “the last possible moment”.

The hearing, at Newcastle’s Moot Hall, was continuing today.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki