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Undercover Hampshire police officer Steve Rawson's death crash 'an accident' after motorbike crash on Thomas Lewis Way
AN UNDERCOVER police officer died as a result of a road traffic accident, a jury inquest has ruled.
After six days of evidence into the death of PC Steve Rawson, the jury of six women and five men have given their verdict of accidental death this afternoon.
The 40-year-old dad-of-two was killed during a high speed crash involving a silver BMW that was turning right out of a petrol station.
PC Rawson was riding at around 90mph while on an undercover surveillance operation when the crash happened.
The inquest heard how Michal Pliszczynski, from Southampton, had turned into the petrol station to refuel but found that the forecourt was closed and decided to turn right out of the garage to find somewhere else to get fuel.
The verdict from the jury read: "Steve Rawson died on April 3 2013 at Southampton General Hospital of multiple injuries sustained in a road traffic accident on the A335 Thomas Lewis Way.
"The accident occurred as a result of a combination of various acts and omissions.
The foreman added that the conclusion of the jury was accidental death.
PC Rawson, from Bishopstoke, was playing what has been described as a "unique role" for Hampshire Constabulary and was trained to the highest level for what is one of the force's most at risk jobs.
He leaves behind a widow, Kerry, and two young children.
After the verdict Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead from Hampshire Police said: “Today has seen the conclusion of the inquest into the death of PC Steve Rawson. The verdict of the jury was accidental death.
“This was a complete tragedy for his wife Kerry, Steve's family and all of his colleagues. Steve was an outstanding police officer, and his loss has been deeply felt throughout the force.
“Our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends.”
When asked if any changes within the force had been made as a result of PC Rawson's death a spokesperson added: "By the very definition officers involved in covert operations are trying not to be seen.
"However, were need to balance that against the vitally important issue of safety. As a result we have started an internal review to ensure we are doing everything we can to maximise the safety of those officers who are performing a covert role."
Speaking on behalf of PC Rawson's widow Kerry, John Apter, chair of the Hampshire Police Federation, said: "We are neither pleased nor disappointed because whatever the verdict it wouldn't have brought Steve back.
"It was a thorough inquest with all aspects of the incident scrutinised and examined so Kerry is grateful to the coroner and jury for that."
He added that he would now work with the constabulary to make sure any lessons are learned or improvements made to make the job safer for police officers.
He added: "Steve was a highly trained, professional, dedicated police officer. He loved the job he did and he was doing what was expected of him and what he was trained for.
"Whilst people may look at the speeds involved, you need to understand this is a unique role where officers are following dangerous individuals so that can keep the public safe and that will involved driving or riding at high speeds, which they are trained to do.
"On that day a number of events conspired against Steve and caused this tragedy to take place."
He added that the family are taking advice on what action to take next, considering all options open to them.