Policeman abandoned unconscious man to die by side of road... and then lied to hide his actions
5th October 2010
A policeman who left an unconscious man to die by the side of a road before inventing a story to cover his tracks has been found guilty of misconduct.
Former traffic officer Pc David Driver, 36, wrote false witness statements in his notebook after he found out 26-year-old Steven Hathaway had died.
He told bosses he had spoken to Mr Hathaway and his friend who were outside a house in the picturesque Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.
But in fact Mr Hathaway had been comatose from drink and drugs and his friend barely able to stand when Driver left them in the middle of a freezing night on Valentine's Day last year.
Less than an hour later Mr Hathaway died at the scene.
On Tuesday Driver admitted misconduct in a public office on the first day of his trial at Worcester Crown Court.
The court heard Mr Hathaway might have survived if Driver had called an ambulance.
David Jackson, prosecuting, said an inquest had yet to be held but added: 'There is evidence that the cold had been a contributory factor, which Driver should have been aware of and acted upon.
'That doesn't make him legally responsible for the death, but it is a relevant factor.'
Driver was an officer for Gloucestershire Police when he spotted Mr Hathaway and another man lying on a pavement outside a house in Moore Road, Bourton-on-the-Water at 1.30am on Valentine's Day last year.
He spoke to Mr Hathaway's friend who was also drunk before leaving them.
Ten minutes later a passing motorist saw the men and dialled 999 and two different police officers attended the scene.
They called an ambulance but paramedics could not detect a pulse for Mr Hathaway and he was pronounced dead at 2.35am.
Judge Alistair McGreath said Driver 'panicked' after learning of Mr Hathaway's death and concocted a false report to cover his back.
He said: 'He [Driver] said they were both capable and, critically, that neither of them were unconscious and incapably lying on the ground.'
Following Mr Hathaway's death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (PICC) launched an investigation and Driver resigned from Gloucestershire Police.
In February he pleaded guilty to neglecting his duty as a police officer and perverting the course of justice.
On Tuesday Judge McGreath adjourned the case and bailed Driver before sentencing on November 12.
He told him: 'It is important that you understand I will pass on you the sentence that is appropriate on the information that I have.
'Being out on bail says nothing at all about what that sentence will be.'
Driver refused to comment when he left court.