United Kingdom

Met Police officer, 32, denies causing death by dangerous over child actor, 10, and his aunt

A police officer accused of causing death by dangerous driving after a child actor and his aunt were killed by a motorist fleeing him has denied any wrongdoing.

Met PC Edward Welch, 32, faces four charges, including two counts of causing death by dangerous driving after Makayah McDermott and Rozanne Cooper were killed in a police chase nearly five years ago.

Joshua Dobby - the estranged son of a millionaire - ploughed into talented 10-year-old Makayah and his aunt Ms Cooper, 34, after losing control of the stolen Ford Focus in August 2016.

He drove four times over the speed limit of 20mph, the wrong way down a one way street and was still travelling at 50mph as he mounted the kerb.

Ms Cooper had been walking down the busy road in Penge, south east London, with her daughter Eva, Makayah and his older twin sisters Niyah and Yahla, 13, when the car ploughed into them.

The three girls were taken to hospital for their injuries, but survived the crash.

Makayah McDermott (left), ten, and Rosie Cooper (right), 34, were killed by the stolen car

Joshua Dobby, then 23, was sentenced to two years for two counts of manslaughter in court

Dobby stole the car after finding the keys in the street and was on his way to sell it to buy drugs, the Old Bailey heard when he was jailed for 12 years in February 2017.

Police abandoned their chase as he drove at 80mph through red lights and through a 30mph zone at 70mph in Penge, the court was told.

Eight months after Dobby was jailed, the police watchdog, the IPCC now called the IOPC, announced an investigation was being launched and that the two officers involved in the chase could face criminal charges.

Welch was the driver of a marked police car that pursued the vehicle driven by Dobby which crashed into Makayah and Ms Cooper.

Today Welch appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court where he indicated not guilty pleas to charges of causing death by dangerous driving over the deaths of Makayah and Ms Cooper.

When asked if Welch would be indicating a plea, his lawyer, Ailsa Williamson, said: “Not guilty”.

People laid flowers on Lennard Road in Penge, south-east London, where the car struck

A forensic police officer examining the scene in Lennard Road in south-east London at the time

Dobby's black car on the pavement following the crash that killed Makayah McDermott and his aunt Rozanne Cooper

She added: “There will be issues as to whether he caused the collision as he was driving the police vehicle pursuing Mr Dobby who collided with the pedestrians.”

District Judge Tan Ikram added: “The issue is recorded as the driving wasn’t dangerous.”

Welch, of Chatham, Kent, will stand trial on four charges, including two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, one count of causing injury by dangerous driving and one count of dangerous driving.

Ben Southam, prosecuting, said: “These allegations arise from a police pursuit on August 31, 2016 involving another vehicle driven by Joshua Dobby who lost control of the vehicle and collided with pedestrians on the pavement.

“He was driving the vehicle pursuing Joshua Dobby.”

He was released on unconditional bail and is next due to appear at The Old Bailey on July 12.

A second PC who was with PC Welch has not been charged as the CPS concluded there was no legal basis for prosecution.

Makayah had been given leading roles in productions at his south London theatre school and just weeks before his death auditioned for a part in a major new television series.

His 13-year-old twin sisters also appeared in a string of national advertising campaigns.

The three siblings all attended the Pop School and Stage Academy (PSSA) in Beckenham, south east London, and Makayah starred in a production of Wizard of Oz spin-off The Wiz not long before he died, in which his two sisters also appeared.

The young star had also performed at nearby Catford’s Broadway Theatre.

After the accident, around 20 passers-by were said to have rushed to lift the car in order for the twins to crawl free.

After pleading guilty, Dobby was jailed for 12 years concurrently after admitting two counts of manslaughter as well as three years and four months in prison for causing serious injury by dangerous driving on August 31, 2016, and 16 months for dangerous driving five days earlier.

He was also banned from driving for 15 years and will have to retake a driving test.

The charges follow a year-long investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which finished in August 2017.

In August 2017 the IOPC handed a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service. The file related to both PC Welch and the other officer involved for their actions during and following the pursuit.

Then in June 2019 an inquest ruled Makayah and Ms Cooper were unlawfully killed by Dobby.

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