Wife of motorbike rider who died in police chase crash wins new inquest 20 years after his death
Legal battle for crash that killed Tony Power to be re-examined was crowdfunded
07 December, 2017
THE wife of a motorcyclist who died in a crash while being pursued by police more than 20 years ago has won a legal battle to have a new coroner’s inquest opened.
The High Court ruled yesterday (Wednesday) that an original “open verdict” into the death of painter and decorator Onese Power should be quashed. It follows his wife Ann’s two-decade campaign in which she has argued that the circumstances of the collision in Camden Road, Camden Town, were never fully investigated. The successful legal case at the Royal Courts of Justice followed a crowdfunding appeal.
Mr Power – known as Tony – died on August 17, 1997, after hitting a bollard and coming off his bike near St Pancras Way. Police officers claimed he was being pursued for speeding, but this has been disputed.
Mrs Power has argued that damage to a police vehicle “could have been caused by contact with the motorcycle”. The court also heard that witness statements were not released to her before the first inquest, in which she represented herself, and that she did not have the chance to question officers involved, who had given identical accounts of the pursuit. A key eyewitness, meanwhile, was not able to attend the inquest due to ill health.
Mrs Power said: “During the course of the inquest it became clear that the internal police investigation failed to carry out crucial forensic examination of the unreported damage to the offside of the police car and the end of Onese’s left motorcycle handlebar. This failing and many other controversial aspects of the investigation left our family with more questions than answers.”
She added: “Getting a new inquest will not only help to bring about truth, peace and closure for myself and my sons but will also help to bring into public awareness the need for transparency from the outset of such investigations and not put families through years of fighting for truth and justice just to find out what is their right – the right to know how their loved ones died.”
Dame Nicola Davies, sitting with Lord Justice Lindblom, said in a judgment: “It will be open to a new jury to return a narrative verdict which, it is to be hoped, would bring a measure of closure for the claimant, who for 20 years has fought tenaciously on behalf of her husband.”
The Met Police said it would assist the new inquest.
Legal firm Hickman and Rose, which has advised Mrs Power, said yesterday: “It is a travesty that Ann Power faced institutional defensiveness and obstruction when she was at her most vulnerable. Unrepresented, she faced an experienced barrister acting for the police at the public expense. The process was disempowering and traumatising.”