Police criticised after wrong-way M1 crash inquest verdict

BBC News
Family handout Michael Luciw died when the van he was travelling in was hit by 87-year-old Albert Newman who was driving the wrong way down the M1

The family of a man who died in a crash when an 87-year-old drove the wrong way on the M1 have accused police of a series of "failings".

Michael Luciw, 27, was killed when Albert Newman drove 30 miles along the wrong carriageways of the M42, A42 and M1, without being stopped.

The family said Mr Newman, who had dementia, should have had his car taken away after his licence was revoked.

The forces involved said no failings by the police had been identified.

Mr Newman, from Nottingham, died after his Mazda Premacy, which was travelling at 60-70mph, collided head-on with a Ford Transit van near Kegworth, in Leicestershire, on 12 October 2015.

Mr Luciw, a father-of-one from Sutton-in-Ashfield who was a passenger in the van, was killed and driver Andy Harrington was injured.

Simon Luciw, Michael's brother, said: "It's scary how many failings there were leading up to [the crash] and even on the day."

Michael's mother, Andrea Shelton, said his daughter had "never known her daddy" because so many people failed to take action.

Their comments come following the conclusion of the inquest last week into Mr Luciw's death, which ruled he died from chest injuries sustained in a road traffic collision.

Vicky Richardson, who is representing the family, said legal cases may yet be brought against all three forces involved for their "failings" prior to and on the night of the crash.

Mr Newman's licence had been revoked two years earlier and Nottinghamshire PC Jonathan Mortimer was dismissed after failing to make adequate inquiries into his driving after bank staff reported concerns.

On the day of the crash, Warwickshire Police incorrectly recorded the direction Mr Newman was heading on the M42 and seven calls were made to Leicestershire Police about the vehicle on the wrong side of the M1.

However, the messages relayed to the Highways Agency were wrong and led to warnings being displayed on the opposite side of the M1.

There was also a 15-minute delay deploying a trained driver.

The family, through their solicitor, accused Leicestershire Police and Warwickshire Police for having no set policy to deal with a vehicle travelling on the wrong side of the motorway.

Leicestershire Police said there was no "national policy addressing this scenario" and there were "limited tactical options to deal with contraflow driving".

It added that no failures had been identified at the inquest.

Assistant Chief Constable Julia Debenham said an internal investigation "determined that an inspector, who was overseeing the initial response... should be the subject of management action and was required to undergo additional training".

Warwickshire Police admitted wrongly recording the direction of Mr Newman's travel but said the Leicestershire force was taking a call at the same time.

It said a Professional Standards Department review found there was no link between the error in recording and the collision.

Det Supt Leona Scurr, from Nottinghamshire Police, said since the crash it had "amended its policy when dealing with the procedure for seizing unlicensed and uninsured vehicles".

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.