Police officer who gave mum brain bleed in 81mph crash keeps licence

Police officer who left a mother with a brain bleed after crashing into a family car while driving at 81mph as he responded to a 999 call is allowed to keep his licence

  • PC Harry Chaplin was responding to a 999 call when he hit the family car
  • Claire Mulqueen’s Honda Civic was knocked onto its side in the collision

A police officer who ploughed into the side of a family car and seriously injured a mum of two while driving at more than twice the speed limit has been told he can keep his licence – because he was responding to a 999 call.

PC Harry Chaplin, of Dorset Police, was on an emergency ‘blue light run’ and driving at between 73mph and 81mph when he slammed into the driver’s side of a Honda Civic occupied by a couple and their children.

The force of the impact, which happened as Chaplin was rushing to the scene of another road crash, was such that the family hatchback was knocked onto its side and one of its occupants, Claire Mulqueen, was left with a bleed on her brain.

Winchester Crown Court heard that the car was being driven by Claire’s husband and also had their two young children in the car, and had been overtaken moments before by another police car being driven by PC Derek Alexander.

The court was shown dashcam footage of the crash, on Littlemoor Road in Weymouth, Dorset, on July 9 2022, as Chaplin’s car – with its sirens and lights ablaze – ploughed into the Honda as it indicated and began to turn right.

PC Harry Chaplin, who has been allowed to keep his driving licence after smashing into a family car containing two children while responding to an emergency call

Nicholas Cotter, prosecuting, said that Chaplin had been driving at between 73mph and 81mph in the 30mph zone – which he said was ‘excessive’ for the residential area even when responding to an accident.

Mr Cotter said that the Honda was being driven by Patrick Mulqueen with his wife Claire and their two young children passengers in the car.

He said that Mrs Mulqueen was knocked unconscious in the crash and suffered a brain bleed.

Mr Mulqueen suffered bruising and cuts and the two children also had bruising from their seat harnesses.

Mr Cotter said: ‘Mr Mulqueen remembers coming to and realises he was covered in glass.

‘His wife Claire was unconscious, he tried to help her, panic set in and he tried to scream at her to rouse her.’

He said that police officers were soon at the scene and the family were taken to hospital.

In a victim statement read to the court, Mrs Mulqueen said that the crash happened after they had recently moved to the area.

She said: ‘We were excited to start this new chapter together and spend the summer at the sea side.

‘The actions of the police officer overshadowed what should have been a happy time for our family.’

She explained that her brain injury had left her exhausted, suffering anxiety and ‘not like herself’.

She added: ‘I remember feeling guilty I couldn’t give my children the summer they deserved as I was so easily tired and overwhelmed.’

Littlemoor Road in Weymouth, Dorset, at its junction with Chalbury Close, where the crash happened on July 9 2022

Chaplin, 27, of Weymouth, was originally charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving, but the prosecution accepted a guilty plea to the lesser charge of careless driving.

Sentencing Chaplin, Judge Angela Morris said: ‘The speed you travelled was a serious error of judgment by you.’

She fined the defendant £307, ordered him to pay a £123 surcharge and £500 compensation to the family.

She said: ‘This will hopefully go some way to compensate them for their loss and also mark for your genuine desire to make restoration to them.’

The judge said that she would not disqualify Chaplin from driving because he was ‘driving towards a serious RTA and not simply exceeding the speed limit’.

She instead imposed eight penalty points on his driving licence.

Ailsa Williamson, defending, said that Chaplin, who was a ‘highly regarded’ officer, had offered to meet the victims to discuss how the accident happened as a form of restorative justice.

She said: ‘He is a young man devoted to public service who is deeply upset he has caused pain to the Mulqueen family by this accident.’

Ms Williamson explained that analysis showed he should have been travelling at 11mph slower in order to have been able to stop in time.

She added: ‘He was responding to an emergency road traffic accident and it’s a case where he has made an error of judgment as to the speed he was travelling but doing so while fulfilling his policing duties to the best of his ability.’

Pc Alexander was also initially charged in connection with the accident but the charges were later dropped by the CPS.

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