AN undercover police motorcyclist had “no escape” from the crash that killed him during a surveillance operation, an inquest heard.
Undercover colleagues of PC Steve Rawson told the inquest into his death that they were following orders to follow a suspect car that appeared to be leaving the city at the time of the fatal collision on Thomas Lewis Way, Southampton.
To protect the identities of PC Rawson’s colleagues, who all work undercover for Hampshire Constabulary, they were shielded by a screen as they gave their evidence to Southampton and New Forest Coroner Grahame Short, and were known only as DC6, DC7 and DS1.
DC6 was driving a red Seat, which was travelling along Thomas Lewis Way at the time of the collision, by the Shell garage, on April 3 last year. They were part of a team, which included 40-year-old PC Rawson, deployed to “make headway towards” a suspect car just before 2pm.
DC6 recalled how he was ahead of PC Rawson’s motorcycle initially, but as they reached the Mayfield Road junction that he sped past at between 80 to 100mph.
Seconds later he told the inquest that he saw a silver BMW “appear” from the exit of the garage.
He said: “I believe at that time Steve was boxed between the central island to his right, the pavement on his left and the BMW ahead. There was no escape.”
DC7 told the inquest he regarded PC Rawson as a friend as well as a colleague and that he believed PC Rawson to be “an exceptional rider”, who was trained at the highest level.
He was a passenger in the Seat and described how the silver BMW made a “sharp, deliberate movement out from the exit”, adding that the crash was “almost immediate” and that “it would have been very difficult for the driver to see the bike”.
DC7 ran to the aid of his friend, who was lying on his back in the middle of the road.
He said: “I could then see that the visor on his crash helmet had shattered and there were pieces of plastic on his chest and neck.
“I then knelt down alongside him and tried to get a reaction from him but I couldn’t get a reaction at all.”
The inquest also heard from DS1, who was the operation commander and gave the orders for his team to “switch” from what they were doing and follow the suspect car, which he had in his sights.
He said that this was a “routine occurrence” and added that PC Rawson’s role was “very unique” within the police service.
The inquest continues.