Police crash mum slams ‘leniency’ of sentence

Michelle Baker's car after police van crash at Deepdale Road junction, Preston. PC Long admitted driving offences.
Michelle Baker's car after police van crash at Deepdale Road junction, Preston. PC Long admitted driving offences.
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A police officer who ploughed into a family’s car, narrowly avoiding seriously injuring a mum and her children, has walked away from court with a fine.

Michelle Baker today spoke of her frustration after learning of the sentence, saying she was “disappointed” and felt the officer had been dealt with leniently.

She was driving past Preston Prison on July 13 last year when a Lancashire Police riot van with around eight officers inside went through a red light at the junction with Deepdale Road and smashed into her car.

The car overturned, bounced off another vehicle and landed back on its wheels against the wall of the prison.

Mrs Baker suffered injuries to her neck and shoulder, while her two children, Farrah, four, and Inigo, three, received cuts from flying glass. The force said “management action had also been taken against PC Christopher Long”.

PC Long, 30, whose address was not disclosed in court, was originally charged with dangerous driving, but admitted a lesser charge of driving without due care and attention. He was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to a £350 fine, £35 surcharge, £85 costs and six penalty points.

Hospital worker Michelle Baker, who was in a Land Rover with her kids, said: “I’m a little disappointed at the outcome of the case, considering the impact it has had on my family. The accident has left a lasting impression on the children.

“My little boy was only two at the time but when he got home he threw all his toy police cars away, saying they crash into things.

“I still avoid going that way into Preston. My son is nearly four now but still says ‘don’t go that way, that’s where we crashed’ to me. It’s obviously stuck with them.

“The car was a write-off.”

The accident happened as Michelle and her husband Peter were moving house from Preston to Dunsop Bridge in the Ribble Valley.

She is still having trouble with her neck nine months or so after the crash and has had counselling.

A spokesman for the force said: “Contact was maintained with Mrs Baker throughout the investigation at every stage.

“An officer then contacted Mrs Baker in March after PC Long’s conviction to inform her that he had been convicted of driving without due care and attention, and confirm his sentence.

“Soon after the trial, an officer from Lancashire Constabulary’s Professional Standards department also wrote to Mrs Baker to confirm management action had also been taken against PC Long, and that he will have to take further decision-making and police driving training before he is reinstated to police driving duties.

“We apologise for any distress PC Long’s actions have caused Mrs Baker and her family.”