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Speeding officer admits to killing grandmother

PUBLISHED: 18:32 23 September 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 12 August 2010

GUILTY: Policeman Malcolm Searles.

GUILTY: Policeman Malcolm Searles.

AN INSPECTOR who granted permission for a policeman to deliver a birthday card to his sister resulting in the death of a 61-year-old grandmother is still working for the Met. Former Bromley constable Malcolm Searles, 24, from Swanley, topped speeds of 1

AN INSPECTOR who granted permission for a policeman to deliver a birthday card to his sister resulting in the death of a 61-year-old grandmother is still working for the Met.

Former Bromley constable Malcolm Searles, 24, from Swanley, topped speeds of 100mph and had his patrol car blue lights flashing for no reason moments before knocking down and killing receptionist Sandra Simpson just yards from her home in Homesdale Road, Bromley, on August 23 last year.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday and could face a maximum of 14 years in jail.

But the Inspector who allowed him to make the non-duty related trip to a housing estate in Swanley is still working for Bromley police after being "dealt with in accordance with Met internal misconduct procedures."

Mother-of-three Mrs Simpson was strolling with her childhood sweetheart husband Pete, to whom she had been married for 43 years, when Searles' car hit her at a speed of 56mph in a 30mph zone.

Prosecuting Michael Mulkerrius told the court a black-box recorder showed he had been exceeding the limit around the Swanley and Bromley areas for about one hour and 15 minutes before the crash.

He added that eyewitness accounts from people on the Northview housing estate in Swanley, where he was driving in the hour leading up to the incident, supported this.

Mr Mulkerrius said: "The defendant was speeding at the time at precisely 56mph. He had been driving for about an hour and a quarter beforehand when he drove in the streets of Bromley which are 30mph zones and grossly exceeded it."

Searles was suspended from Bromley police on full pay for eight months before being dismissed in April.

Bromley Borough Commander Charles Griggs said: "I would like to express my deep regret to Sandra Simpson's family and friends and offer my sympathies to them.

"It was immediately recognised that this was a serious act of misconduct by an individual officer who was not responding to an emergency call, or driving for a police purpose.

"I am sure I speak on behalf of all police drivers who respond daily to emergency calls and drive to the highest standards in line with police driver training when I say that I sincerely hope that the actions of a single maverick officer does not influence the views of the people we serve".

Searles appeared in the dock wearing a grey suit with a light blue shirt and a dark blue tie. His family, including his parents and brothers and sisters, and his partner, were in the public gallery. Some of them were crying as he entered his pleas.

After the hearing, his solicitor issued a statement on his behalf.

Shula de Jersey of Russell Jones and Walker said: "The death of Sandra Simpson was a tragedy for which Malcolm Searles accepts full responsibility and apologises unreservedly to her family and friends for his actions that night. He does not expect their forgiveness but he does want them to know he is truly sorry.

"Malcolm Searles also wishes to apologise to the Metropolitan Police Service if the consequence of his behaviour has damaged public confidence in the Service in which he was so proud to have served."

Searles also admitted to three counts of speeding but two further charges of dangerous driving were left on file. He is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on October 26.

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