A TEACHING assistant has been cleared of causing the death of an off-duty police officer who was breaking the speed limit.
PC Pat Casey of North Yorkshire Police may have been doing more than 117mph on his powerful Suzuki motorbike, York Crown Court heard.
He crashed into a Ford Fiesta driven by teaching assistant Charlotte Hannah Crawford, 27, as she turned right across his path at Biggin crossroads on the B1222 south of York.
The speed limit on the road where the collision occurred is 60mph.
PC Casey, who had recently joined the police after serving in the Army, was declared dead at the scene.
Ms Crawford, of Abbey Walk, Selby, denied a charge of causing his death by careless driving and was acquitted by a jury.
“It would not have happened if the speed limit had been obeyed,” the Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris, told the jurors about the collision after they returned their verdicts.
He said the speed limits were there to protect road users, including “the person on the road who doesn’t know what is coming the other way".
Ms Crawford gave evidence that she had checked the road was clear before starting the turn and didn’t see PC Casey until after the collision.
The jury heard PC Casey had passed a warning sign that there was a crossroads ahead, the word SLOW written on the carriageway and three series of slow down lines across the carriageway.
Police collision expert Nigel Varney estimated from marks on the road at the crash scene after the motorbiker started emergency braking before the collision, he was doing between 85mph and 117mph.
He was unable to say exactly what speed PC Casey was doing. He agreed with Ms Crawford’s barrister Mark Ford KC that PC Casey was riding a powerful motorbike capable of speeds up to 160mph.
Defence collision expert Peter Davey calculated that if PC Casey had been doing less than 96mph the collision would not have occurred and in his opinion, the only cause of the collision was the motorbiker’s speed.
PC Casey was on his way to meet family and friends at Squire’s Café at Sherburn-in-Elmet when he died at Biggin crossroads on the B1222 shortly after noon on July 18, 2021, the jury heard. The jurors were not told he was a police officer.
Ms Crawford was returning home with her brother after shopping in Leeds, the jury heard. She wept as the jury returned the not guilty verdict. She had never been in trouble with the police before.
She told the jury she needed counselling because of the collision but couldn’t start it or intensive therapy until after the trial.
The jury of four men and eight women were out for nearly two hours at the end of the four-day trial before reaching their unanimous verdict.