Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boy in 999 Crash Loses [Pound]1m Payout

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boy in 999 Crash Loses [Pound]1m Payout

Article excerpt


A SCHOOLBOY severely injured when he was hit by a rapid response police car was today denied more than [pound]1 million damages.

Robert Scutts will not get a penny of compensation after the Appeal Court ruled the driver was blameless. Critics of the "compensation culture" will see the ruling as a sign that courts, even in such a tragic case, are taking a stricter line on big payouts. One of the reasons given for today's decision was that Robert was wearing his RAF cadet uniform and camouflage jacket at the time of accident, making it difficult for the driver to see him.

Robert was a 17-year-old pupil at Dulwich College when he was hit by the car as he tried to hail a bus on 1 March 1995. The police car had its blue light flashing and siren wailing.

As well as physical injuries, his short-term memory was damaged so badly that he has to make notes and be reminded of what he is doing from minute to minute. His dreams of becoming an RAF pilot were ruined.

Last June a High Court judge ruled that the driver of the police car, Pc David Keyse, was 75 per cent responsible for the accident.

That opened the way for Robert to seek more than [pound]1 million damages.

However the decision was overturned today by three Appeal Court judges who ruled Pc Keyse entirely blameless.

Lord Justice Judge told the court: "We cannot of course decide this case on the basis of sympathy for a young man who has suffered injuries of great magnitude, as Robert did, or his parents and family who have witnessed the dissipation of much promise.

"But it would be wrong not to acknowledge that for them all the consequences of this particular road traffic accident were catastrophic and that whoever was to blame, and in whatever proportions, the accident has been the source of much anguish."

Pc Keyse was responding to an "immediate" call for assistance from officers who were pursuing burglary suspects on foot three miles away in Peckham.

Robert was coming home from a meeting of the Combined Cadet Force at Dulwich College.

In exonerating Pc Keyse, Lord Justice Judge said: "It would not have been realistic to expect him to anticipate that a pedestrian in dark clothing would hurry across the road, directly into his path, at an angle away from him, without a second glance, when the traffic lights were showing green to the vehicle on its well advertised emergency journey, and to have driven at a speed at which he could have avoided this unanticipated risk. …

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