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Inquest told police vehicle ‘was not fit for high performance use’

PC’s widow says force and vehicle manufacturer are not taking responsibility for ‘litany of faults’

The widow of a police officer killed in a road accident said she feels betrayed by the failure of Cumbria Police and BMW to take responsibility for the ‘litany of faults’ in the police vehicle he was driving.

Kathryn Dumphreys spoke today (16 September) after an inquest into her husband PC Nick Dumphreys’ death.

The five-day inquest heard that according to experts the car’s engine was "not fit and safe for high performance use by the Police" on the day PC Dumphreys’ accident happened.

Kathryn has said that in her view all police forces in the UK should stop their officers from using these vehicles to ensure that no other family endures the pain and suffering that she has gone through.

She said: “The past two-and-a-half years have been exhausting – and quite insulting. Nick’s dead. You can’t change that. What happened, happened. The car was faulty. There were failures on both sides. But it’s how you deal with it afterwards.

“All I want to do is ensure that no one else is killed. To ensure that someone takes responsibility and accountability for the faults that led to his death. And yet we’ve faced nearly three years of BMW and Cumbria Police passing the blame back to each other, while we sit in the middle quietly. I feel betrayed.”

Kathryn, 41, who is bringing up the couple’s two young children, added: “It shouldn’t have happened. It was easily preventable. Nick should still be here today. But the scary thing is that this could happen again.”

PC Dumphreys, 47 suffered fatal injuries when his car – a BMW 330 - veered across the motorway and crashed near Carlisle on the afternoon of 26 January 2020. The inquest in Carlisle heard that at the time of the tragedy, the officer was responding to an emergency call for back-up and that he did nothing to contribute to the accident.

The inquest – which still awaits a verdict from the Coroner - heard that the BMW patrol car was returned to the Constabulary's vehicle management unit four times in the month before the accident. Reasons for these visits included an oil change, a power failure at 70mph and warning lights appearing on the dashboard.

Following the fatal crash, a forensic examination of the BMW’s engine revealed that a displaced crankshaft caused an obstruction of the oil-supply line. The result was a loss of oil, which was spread across the engine floor and, with the crankshaft continuing to rotate, this ultimately caused combustible parts of the engine to ignite.

Kathryn, who also works for Cumbria Police, has been unable to return to her PC role since the tragedy.

She added: “The last few years have been soul destroying at times. It’s caused me a lot of suffering, a lot of stress. I worked for Cumbia Police and so did Nick, for about 17 years. So to be treated like that by your own employer, considering what happened, yes it’s a massive betrayal.

“I’m speaking out for me and our family. It’s for Nick. Because we know he didn’t do anything wrong. I need it to never happen again. It’s vital for our colleagues, for our friends, for everyone, so that this doesn’t happen again, so that it doesn’t have fatal consequences again.

“Hearing all the facts in open court has been hard. It is exhausting. But it makes me even more defiant that things have to change. It makes me more determined and I’m very glad that it’s out there.

“We’ve been in this horrible limbo. There was a life before, with Nick, and everything that happened. And then there’s been how we’ve been treated and how it’s been dealt with for the last nearly three years. I want to be able to say, hand on heart, that that information is out in the public, that evidence is out in the public domain, and that things can change. Then I can take my next step into the new life that I’ve got now, because that’s what I’ve been forced into.”

Speaking about her husband, Kathryn added: “Nick was just everything. He was just a brilliant human. He was a brilliant guy. He loved life. He loved his family. His family was his life. But he loved everything that he did.

“Being loved by Nick was without doubt the best thing that ever happened to me. Loving him was the easiest and most natural thing in the world. We understood each other completely and I knew we’d be together forever; it just went without saying. Together we could face anything and knowing that he was by my side was all I needed.

“Facing a future without Nick has been terrifying and unbearable at times. But he is always in my head, smiling and encouraging me to keep going. We are so fortunate to have our favourite people around us to help us along the way. These are the people who play a vital role in keeping his memory alive for our young children, who were so young when he died they may not have their own genuine memories.

“Nick was just a really genuinely honest, decent person and he didn’t deserve any of this.”

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