Family’s world destroyed by joyriding cop who killed gran

PUBLISHED: 17:06 28 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:50 16 August 2010

POLICE have refused to comment on the future of an inspector who granted permission for a joyriding cop to use a marked car for a personal errand after he was jailed for killing a grandmother while driving at speed with his blue lights on. Divorced fa

POLICE have refused to comment on the future of an inspector who granted permission for a 'joyriding' cop to use a marked car for a personal errand after he was jailed for killing a grandmother while driving at speed with his blue lights on.

Divorced father-of-one Malcolm Searles, 24, was jailed for six-and-a-half years on Monday after admitting to killing Sandy Simpson, 61, as she crossed Homesdale Road, Bromley, near her home.

But the Bromley inspector, who gave permission to the young constable to use the force's car to deliver a card to his sister at a party at their parents' house in Swanley, is still working for the force.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police force refused to give details of an internal Bromley police investigation into his actions.

Bromley police said he "has been dealt with in accordance with Met internal misconduct procedures", but at the time of going to press would not disclose what the outcome was.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission spokesperson told the Times they have not been asked to investigate his action.

They said: "As far as the IPCC is concerned we looked into PC Searles in relation to the collision with Sandy Simpson.

"For any other matters you need to speak to the Metropolitan Police Service."

The newly-qualified response driver was travelling at 56mph in a 30mph residential zone and had his blue lights and siren on when he hit the brakes.

His Vauxhall Astra was moving at 30mph as it hit the receptionist.

On Monday Southwark Crown Court heard how the victim's husband of 43 years contemplated suicide after her death and is now receiving counselling.

In his impact statement Peter Simpson, who had been sobbing throughout the proceedings, wrote: "Sandy was my whole world. In short, I have lost everything. If it wasn't for my children and grandchildren I wouldn't be here.

"She cared about people. She had many, many friends around the world.

"She and I were born on the same day. We were married when we were 18. She gave me four beautiful children. When I look at my two grandchildren, it upsets me so much that she is not here to see them. They are missing out on so much by her not being here."

It said they were "great-hand-holders" and even now he reaches out for her hand only to remember she is not there.

He added: "If I had known Searles was rushing to save someone that night, that would have been some consolation.

"But it was an accident waiting to happen from the moment he drove off."

On the night of the fatal crash, Mr Simpson heard a loud thud as he was walking in nearby Mornington Avenue and knew immediately it was an accident.

He said he did not hear any skidding and when he arrived at the scene he saw his son leaning over his mother's body.

The family and friends of Searles, who was on bail and had found another job after being kicked out of the Metropolitan Police Service, wept as the sentence was read out.

Luke Brooks, Mrs Simpson son-in-law, linked hands with other grieving family members and read a statement from the court steps.

He said the family's lives were devastated, adding: "Less than 24 hours after the accident took place our world fell apart when we were told some of the details around the circumstances that led up to the accident, such as how fast the police officer was travelling, that although he was a newly-qualified standard response driver, he was alone in the car, using lights and sirens and that he was not assigned to an emergency call.

"As a family we are angry that Sandy was robbed of her golden years. She was in the prime of her life, a fit healthy and young 61.

"As a family we are appalled that the pointless death of someone we loved so much was caused by Searles' immaturity, recklessness and behaviour that can only be described as a boy racer on an adrenaline rush. This is someone who is supposed to be in a position of responsibility as an on-duty police officer.

"Whatever the sentence passed here today, we do not feel it would be adequate in comparison to our loss.

"We hope that today's conviction and sentencing will cause other police officers to question their behaviour while driving and the potential consequence to them and the general public."

Police apologise for recklessness

The charges levelled against Searles were decided by the Crown Prosecution Service following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Following disciplinary proceedings Searles was dismissed from the Metropolitan Police in April, prior to the criminal proceedings.

After his sentence was announced IPCC Commissioner, Mike Franklin, said: "Our investigation found that Searles undertook a high speed 'joyride' in a police vehicle on residential streets for nothing more than personal errands. In doing so, he grossly abused the high levels of trust and responsibility placed in any police officer. His entirely reckless actions have tragically cost an innocent bystander her life and devastated a loving family, to whom I again send my deepest sympathies. The safety of the public, a paramount concern for all police officers, appears not to have entered the head of Searles on that fateful day.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bromley Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Bromley Times