Police ‘failed to stop’ drug driver’s hit-and-run

Police in Forfar were warned twice about the man's behaviour. Picture: Johnston Press
Police in Forfar were warned twice about the man's behaviour. Picture: Johnston Press
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A DRUG driver crashed into a female pedestrian, knocking her over a wall and leaving her with serious brain injuries and a fractured skull, after basic police errors failed to stop him.

Officers were twice warned about Shawn Kenny, 40, a known drug addict who had got behind the wheel after taking heroin, cannabis and methadone.

He mounted the pavement, knocking Elaine Thomson, 30, over a wall as she walked home with her aunt Jennifer Choudry following an evening out on 1 June.

Ms Thomson almost died following the collision. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, three fractured ribs, a skull fracture and other bone fractures, and was placed in a medically induced coma.

Kenny fled the scene and drove home, but was later arrested and pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drink or drugs and, having caused the collision, failing to stop and give details.

He was jailed for five years last month.

He also admitted to producing cannabis at addresses on Lordburn Place and Restenneth Drive, in Forfar, between 1 and 3 June. Police found 31 cannabis plants worth between £5,920 and £17,760.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard Kenny’s mother contacted police twice the previous day to warn them about his drug driving.

Jean Kenny visited Forfar Police Station on 31 May and told officers her son was driving while under the influence of drugs, which was also affecting his diabetes.

At 5pm the same day, she contacted them again and said he had left the house and was driving to Kirriemuir in her Y-reg blue Vauxhall Astra to buy drugs.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner PIRC found that Police Scotland’s Tayside division were provided with “credible information” that could have helped them identify the driver and his vehicle hours before the collision.

Professor John McNeill, commissioner, ruled that officers did not obtain enough information and did not circulate it properly.

They did not carry out checks on the police’s own Scottish Intelligence Database that may have helped them stop and arrest the driver before the collision.

In fact, PIRC found police were accessing an old intelligence system that included out-of-date information.

Prof McNeill said: “My investigation has revealed a number of areas of concern in relation to how Police Scotland handled this incident.

“There are clearly lessons to be learned by individual officers but there are wider issues that should be addressed specifically in relation to the use of out-of-date intelligence systems by Tayside division.”

Critics said the police action was “unacceptable”.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Clearly this man was a ticking timebomb, and police had been alerted to this.

“It’s completely unacceptable that so much time was allowed to pass between the force being told of his condition, and the incident which provoked this investigation.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Following our referral to the Pirc to investigate the circumstances of the incident we can confirm that we are now in receipt of their report.

“We will consider the findings carefully and make sure any concerns are addressed.”