The findings of a Coronial Inquest into the death of 19 month old baby Skye Sassine on New Years Eve in 2009 have been released.
The inquest involved the conduct of two Police officers Senior Constable Andrew McNeice and Senior Constable Troy Skinner, who were both involved in the chase. As a result of the police pursuit, William Ngati slammed into the back of a family car, killing the baby Skye. He was ultimately sentenced for a minimum of 14 years imprisonment.
Following community outrage regarding the incident, “Skye’s Law” was introduced, that created a separate offence of “Police Pursuit”, carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years.
The Findings of Deputy State Coronor Paul McMahon
Of the many scathing comments made by in it’s findings were:
- “The evidence shows that senior constable Skinner in firstly undertaking urgent duty and subsequently engaging in the pursuit on December 31, 2009 did so in utter disregard for the requirements imposed on him by the SDP (NSW Police Safe Driving Policy),”.
- “Watching the ICV (in car video) record of his actions one is left with the impression that charged with adrenaline he thought he was on a racetrack and determined to be the first past the winning post.”
- “Also of concern was senior constable Skinner’s action of weaving in and out of traffic rather than travelling in the right lane and waiting for the vehicles in front of him to move left to allow him to pass.”
- “The right of a police officer to disregard the road rules is one that is given in limited circumstance and only to be used in the public interest and never for personal excitement,”.
The Coronor made a finding that it was clear that both Police officers (in separate vehicles) behaved in the similar way.
He said Senior Constable Skinner ran a red lights at least 14 times at speeds of up to 118kmh, went through green lights at least six times at speeds of up to 160kmh and drove on the wrong side of the road at speeds of up to 157km/h.
He weaved in and out of traffic at high speed, probably turned off the car’s traction control and did a handbrake turn in front of a car waiting to turn right – these methods not taught or promoted in police driver training.
He also blasted the horn and yelled obscenities at other drivers at an intersection.
It is reported that and internal investigation has taken place both Police officers have since been “reprimanded”. The Coronor said the panel’s decision was “perplexing”, given the inquest heard both drivers would have failed driver training school had they driven in such a manner during a test.
He added that it seemed inconsistent with statements by police management about its commitment to ensuring the safe driving policy is followed.
The Coronor however made a finding that there was no evidence that the Policeman’s actions directly caused the the accident and the death of Skye.
For more information on Skye’s Law, click here.