Wed, 22 Jan 2020
A JURY has cleared a woman of causing the death of a Thatcham police officer.
Thirty-five-year-old Agne Jasulaitiene had been on trial at Reading Crown Court charged with causing the death of Pc James Dixon and also of her passenger, 91-year-old Gladys Goodwin, by careless driving.
Jurors heard how Pc Dixon, who lived in Thatcham with his wife Samantha and was based at Loddon Valley Police Station, died at the scene on the A4 in Hare Hatch, near Twyford, on December 5, 2017.
His motorcycle had been travelling at nearly twice the 50mph speed limit, taking part in a covert surveillance exercise, when Ms Jasulaitiene’s Toyota Aygo pulled out in front of him.
Both Pc Dixon, known for his appearances on Sky TV’s Road Wars series, and Ms Goodwin died at the scene.
Ms Jasulaitiene told jurors she had taken every care at the junction and checked her mirrors plus the road ahead before making the fatal turn.
She said: “I slowed down, indicating. I positioned my car...I looked forward; I looked forward again. It was clear - there was nobody there.”
Pc Dixon’s motorbike, which could have been travelling at up to 97mph in the 50mph limit with no headlight on, then struck the Aygo with a sound “like a bomb going off,” according to witnesses.
Ms Jasulaitiene added: “I remember the car rolling; I just remembered blood and glass, pain.”
Ian Bridge, defending, told jurors: “...coming in the other direction on a surveillance motorbike designed not to be seen, was a police officer travelling at more than twice the (50mph) speed limit on that road.
“We say there’s no evidence... that her driving, on this occasion, was anything other than ordinary, competent and careful driving.”
It took the jury just one hour to clear Ms Jasulaitiene, of Talavera Close, Crowthorne, of both counts on Tuesday.
Afterwards Pc Dixon’s widow Samantha said in a statement: “Whilst we are disappointed with the verdict, regardless of the outcome it would never have changed the most important fact about this tragic case, and that is myself and the rest of James’ family have lost a husband, father, son and brother. He was also a friend to so many. Thames Valley Police have lost a committed and highly professional officer and respected colleague. He will be forever missed and never forgotten.”
She added: “My heart and thoughts also extend to the family of Gladys Goodwin, in particular Sandie, David, Beth and Joe. They also lost a key member of their family in this collision.
“We now need to process all the distressing things we’ve seen and heard over the last seven days of the trial and then attempt to move forward as best we can.”
Assistant chief constable Tim De Meyer said: “This tragic case has affected many people and their families, friends and colleagues.
“PC Dixon’s widow Samantha Dixon, an officer with us at Thames Valley Police, known to her colleagues as Sam Allen, is of course very much in our thoughts, along with the family of Gladys Goodwin.
“Sam has been supported by specially trained Family Liaison Officers throughout this difficult period.
“The welfare of officers and staff affected by this incident is also being carefully managed.
“Police colleagues have supported each other in mourning a wonderful officer, who was affectionately known as Dixie. It is in times of such adversity that the police family demonstrates its extraordinary strength and unity.
“The force has received thousands of messages of support and touching tributes to Dixie, for which we are extremely grateful.
“The experts in the trial could not be sure of the exact speed at which PC Dixon was travelling. Furthermore, we cannot speculate on PC Dixon’s reason for travelling at a particular speed.
“However, all officers are aware that if they break the speed limit, it must be justifiable.
“Surveillance officers attend an Advanced Driver Course as well as a College of Policing surveillance course. Refresher training is mandatory for Advanced Drivers and Riders and in order to maintain their accreditation, officers must deploy as per Authorised Professional Practice. PC Dixon had completed his mandatory training prior to the incident in December 2017.
“All learning from this case will be carefully considered and acted upon where appropriate.
“Quite properly, since a Thames Valley Police officer was killed, the case was subject to two independent investigations, by Sussex Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) respectively.
“Sussex Police brought the case to court, where a jury, having listened to all the evidence, has found Agne Jasulaitiene not guilty of two counts of causing death by careless driving.
“The IOPC carried out an independent investigation into the planning and preparation of the training exercise including risk assessments and the manner of PC Dixon’s driving. They will decide in due course as to whether this report will be published.
“I hope that these independent investigations will at least provide some answers to the families of Mrs Goodwin and PC Dixon. But we understand that they cannot compensate for the dreadful loss of their loved ones.
“Thames Valley Police will continue to support all those affected by this incident however we can.”