Monday, 9th December, 2013
Any home is a potential target for burglars; some are more appealing than others and some offer themselves up with a bow that begs to be opened.
Yesterday’s inquest verdicts in to the deaths of Marek Wojciechowski and Oisin Twomey in Torquay mark the end of the Independent Police Complaint Commission’s (IPCC) investigation in to Devon and Cornwall Constabulary’s response to a high risk missing person on the 6th July 2012.
Both deaths were the result of a fatal car collision that happened on the same afternoon (6th July 2012) after police had been alerted to the fact that Mr Wojciechowski had gone missing and was considered to be high risk. The IPCC has concluded that the force dealt with this incident both seriously and appropriately and that there is nothing to suggest that, had the incident been dealt with differently, the tragic circumstances could have been avoided.
The IPCC's investigation covered calls in to and out of the control room and the actions of the police officer who subsequently spotted the car on the A380, outside Torquay. The events which then unfolded, devastating to all those involved, could not have been foreseen and the IPCC has found that officers, in particular PC Bickford who responded to the call trying to locate Mr Wojciechowski, responded quickly and effectively.
At 2.12pm on the 6 July 2012 police were alerted to reports that Marek Wojciechowski had gone missing and that he was 'going to end it'. He was therefore graded by the control room as a high risk missing person. Just over half an hour later Marek Wojciechowski deliberately drove his Vauxhall Vectra in to oncoming traffic on the busy A380 near Torquay.
It was this deliberate action that resulted in the deaths of Mr Con Twomey, aged 39 and his 16 month old son Oisin. Mr Twomey's wife, Elber, who was pregnant at the time, was also travelling in the Volkswagon Golf. She was seriously injured and lost their unborn baby. Mr Wojciechowski swerved across the carriageway in to the oncoming traffic, colliding with the Twomey's car immediately. He died in hospital later the same day (6th July 2012). Oisin Twomey died on impact and his father, Con Twomey died from his injuries 10 months later. A separate inquest will be heard in Ireland in relation to Mr Twomey's death.
The inquest has today returned a verdict of a 'deliberate act with the intention of committing suicide' for Marek Wojciechowski and that it was this deliberate act that resulted in the death of 16 month old Oisin Twomey.
The IPCC received a referral from the force on the 9th July 2012 and an independent investigation was declared the same day. The IPCC's investigation looked at the circumstances surrounding police interaction with Mr Wojciechowski leading up to and including the collision as well as the response and actions of the police officer who spotted Mr Wojciechowski and whether these actions were appropriate and proportionate in the circumstances.
In conducting this investigation the IPCC also looked at the management and authorisation of the incident by the force control room and compliance with road traffic law, ACPO guidance and force policies and procedures including Devon and Cornwall's Constabulary pursuit policy.
IPCC Associate Commissioner Tom Milsom said: "The actions of Marek Wojciechowski have had a devastating effect on all those involved and left a mother grieving for her entire family. This can only be described as a tragedy.
"The IPCC has investigated all of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary's actions and involvement with Mr Wojciechowski in the short time between the call to say that he was suicidal and the fateful moment when he deliberately swerved his car in to the Twomey's family car. The police acted quickly to the initial call and their response was both speedy and within the set guidelines. There is no evidence to suggest that the force's response was in any way deficient and PC Bickford did everything he was able to on the 6th July 2012. There is nothing to suggest that, had the incident been dealt with differently, this horrific outcome could have been avoided.
I am acutely aware that none of this changes the loss that all those involved have suffered."
The Terms of Reference of the IPCC's investigation were as follows;
• The circumstances surrounding the police interaction with Mr Wojciechowski leading up to and including the collision of the car which Mr Wojciechowski was driving.
• The response and actions of PC Bickford and whether these were appropriate and proportionate in the circumstances.
• The management and authorisation of the incident by the force control room.
• To consider the compliance with road traffic law, ACPO guidance and force policies and procedures including Devon and Cornwall's Constabulary pursuit policy.
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