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Man killed as he drove at high speed to visit stabbed brother in hospital

Birmingham | News | Published:

A man was driving at high speed along a road in Smethwick to check on his brother in hospital when he crashed and suffered fatal injuries, a jury has concluded.

Kevin Burris, 29, was behind the wheel of a silver Ford Focus heading from Soho Way, Smethwick, towards City Hospital when the smash occurred at around 5am on March 26, 2010.

Smethwick Coroners Court heard Mr Burris' brother, Karl, was in the hospital's intensive care unit at the time after being stabbed.

Karl survived but Kevin, of Woodland Street, Smethwick, died when the car collided with a camera stanchion yards from the hospital.

Following a three-day inquest at Birmingham Coroners Court, the jury concluded Mr Burris had died as the result of an accident.

They said he had reacted for another car crossing the junction with Winson Green Road causing the loss of control.

The inquest was told there had been four people inside the car besides Kevin, including his other brother Kelvin, who all suffered injuries at the time but lived.

The jury also heard police in an unmarked BMW police car had started following the vehicle after seeing it travelling in the opposite direction to them less than a minute before the crash took place.

Officers didn't use blue lights while trying to catch up with Mr Burris' car, which police said was going 'around 80mph'.

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Mr Hossein Zaahir, representing Kevin's mother Imogen Brown, suggested blue lights should have been illuminated, for the safety of other road users and to alert Kevin to slow down.

He said West Midlands Police's policy on pursuits, which was in place at the time, said blue lights should be on.

But Pc Ian Smith, one of the officers in the police car, said it had not constituted a pursuit as guidelines stated one only begins if a driver does not comply with a direction from the police to stop.

This was confirmed by expert Detective Inspector Craig Baker, of Counties CID based in Leicestershire, who was asked to give his view on what happened four years ago.

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He told the inquest West Midlands Police was one of the first in the country to bring in a 'restrictive policy' on pursuits which had been in place at the time.

And DI Baker said further guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2009 were also in effect.

These state a pursuit is when a 'driver indicates by their actions or continuance of their manner of driving that they have no intention of stopping for police and the police driver believes the driver of the subject vehicle is aware of the requirement to stop.'

DI Baker said: "In evidence Pc Ian Adams, who was driving the police car, said he believed those in the Ford Focus were not even aware of their presence.

"Pc Smith said they may have known and but he did not know.

"If we accept their account it would not fall into the definition of a pursuit under the Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines.

"Under West Midlands Police guidelines at the time officers would not have considered they were in pursuit and my view has not changed in the evidence I have heard.

"I do not consider this to be a pursuit under the definition of the two policies."

Mr Burris died of crush injuries.

The conclusion given was Mr Burris had been 'driving very fast in order to check on brother in hospital and reacted for another car crossing the junction with Winson Green Road by steering right'.

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