24 November 2023

Policeman who crashed on way to terrorist attack cleared of dangerous driving

24 November 2023

An armed policeman who crashed while racing to the scene of the Streatham terrorist attack has been cleared of dangerous driving.

Pc Paul Fisher, 46, made a “split-second error” when he lost control of his unmarked BMW X5 and ran in to the back of a taxi driver’s Toyota before hitting a Ford Fiesta and a wall.

The former Royal Marine, who reached speeds of more than 80mph, admitted he “let people down” but denied dangerous driving.

The police car which Fisher was driving did not have its blue lights on at the time because they had accidentally been switched off by one of the occupants, his trial at Southwark Crown Court heard.

I failed that day. I let people down and I can only apologise for that

The vehicle, which did have its siren on, had been switched to “arrival mode” and only had flashing rear red lights displayed, the court was told.

Fisher was responding along with two other armed officers in his vehicle to the stabbing spree carried out by terrorist Sudesh Amman in February 2020.

The 20-year-old grabbed a large kitchen knife from a hardware store on Streatham High Road in south London and stabbed two members of the public at random.

Little over a minute later, he was shot dead after pivoting to charge at two undercover police officers.

Fisher was on a surveillance operation at the time of the crash, monitoring Amman after his release from jail 10 days earlier.

Defending Fisher, Kevin Baumber said: “The last thing (he) intended was any kind of harm at all.

“Not all collisions are crimes.”

The drivers of the two vehicles which Fisher’s car collided with – a man and a woman – were left with minor injuries.

The female officer travelling in the back of the police car suffered a cut head and Fisher was bleeding from the ear after the crash.

The officer described the moment he found out the terrorist had begun stabbing people as “pandemonium”.

In a statement given to police, Fisher, who joined the force in 2010, said he believed Amman might be wearing a suicide vest and wanted to get to the scene quickly.

He continued: “The radio operator said ‘he’s stabbing people’.

“I had to use my driving skills to the maximum of my ability to literally save lives. I believed he would continue to stab people… seconds can make a difference.”

At no point did my colleagues turn around and say ‘Paul you’re driving too fast’

Fisher raced to the scene from Gipsy Hill Police Station, reaching speeds of more than 80mph, before his vehicle crashed on a bend, the court heard.

He said: “I remember braking for the bend but the vehicle seemed to drift.

“I started emergency braking and steering to the right in an attempt to avoid the vehicle.

“The next thing I remember there was dust everywhere which had come from the airbags. The vehicle was still moving and there was a second impact.

“I was, and still am, annoyed with myself. I failed due to split-second error.”

Giving evidence, Fisher said: “At no point did my colleagues turn around and say ‘Paul you’re driving too fast’.

“If my colleagues had said ‘you’re driving too fast’ I would have stopped.

“It was my mistake, I failed that day. I let people down and I can only apologise for that.”

Asked by prosecutor Ben Lloyd if he wanted to get to the scene of the stabbing at “whatever cost”, Fisher replied: “I do not accept that.”

He added: “The whole way through the drive I had images of someone attacking people on Streatham High Road.”

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