Police officer jailed after paralysing boy by smashing into him while speeding

19 May 2023, 16:17 | Updated: 19 May 2023, 16:29

Sarah De Meulemeester
Sarah De Meulemeester. Picture: Handout

By Kit Heren

A police officer has been jailed after leaving a boy with catastrophic injuries by hitting him while speeding on the wrong side of the road.

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PC Sarah De Meulemeester was driving a police car while responding to an emergency call when she ploughed into Khia Whitehead, 15, in Stockport on Boxing Day 2020.

Greater Manchester Police officer De Meulemeester, 26, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after being found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court last month.

Khia, who has been left in a vegetative state, and still needs round-the-clock nursing care.

The tragic incident took place when three officers driving in convoy were racing out to a report of a domestic incident involving a man with a knife.

De Meulemeester's vehicle reached speeds of 61mph ahead of the collision on Garners Lane - more than double the speed limit of 30mph.

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Khia Whitehead
Khia Whitehead. Picture: Handout

As a basic level police driver, De Meulemeester had to stick to the speed limit, unlike drivers who have advanced training.

When the information about the knife came through on the radio, another officer who was allowed to drive above the speed limit overtook De Meulemeester's vehicle and switched on emergency lights.

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De Meulemeester slowed down at first to allow her colleague to overtake, but then increased her speed again.

She initially told investigators she had been travelling at a "normal road speed" and declined to answer further questions in interview about the manner of her driving and her reasons for it.

Khia Whitehead
Khia Whitehead. Picture: Handout

While on Garners Lane in Stockport, De Meulemeester overtook a member of the public's car and, in doing so, went on the wrong side of a traffic island and struck Khia as he was crossing the road.

Khia was left with significant injuries and requires around-the-clock care.

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After De Meulemeester was jailed, Khia's family said in a statement: "We are delighted with the outcome of this case and thank the judge for making his decision.

"We know nothing is ever going to be justice for what she did to our family and destroying our son's life.

"Her jail sentence is not going to bring Khia back but having her held accountable for her actions sets a tone to all the other police officers who continuously break their own laws.

Khia Whitehead
Khia Whitehead. Picture: Handout

"No emergency is so great that it justifies injuring or killing someone, it is better to arrive late than not at all.

"Police officers are not above the law and will be investigated and brought to justice.

"We would like to thank the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) for their thorough investigation and our amazing community for all their continued love and support.

"We really couldn't have got through the past two years without you all. We hope now that this outcome will bring our family some peace and we can let some of this pain go and focus all our love and attention back into helping Khia come back to us. We will never give up on him."

Sarah De Meulemeester (L)
Sarah De Meulemeester (L). Picture: .

IOPC regional director Catherine Bates said: "While today's verdict brings these criminal proceedings to an end, the effects of this collision on the lives of Khia and his family will last a lifetime.

"Our investigation has ensured Pc De Meulemeester was held accountable for her dangerous actions that day, which had devastating consequences for Khia.

"Now criminal matters have concluded, it will be for Greater Manchester Police to arrange misconduct hearings for Pc De Meulemeester and another officer we found has a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to their driving prior to the collision."

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