PC Dave Phillips hit by truck 'used as murder weapon'

PC David Phillips Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption PC Dave Phillips, a married father-of-two, died from internal injuries

A teenager driving a stolen truck used it as a "weapon to murder" a police officer in a "cowardly and merciless act", Manchester Crown Court has heard.

PC Dave Phillips died in October when the vehicle mounted a central reservation in Wallasey, Merseyside.

Clayton Williams, 19, gave PC Phillips "no chance", hitting the officer as he tried to stop the truck with a tyre-puncturing device, the court was told.

Mr Williams claims he did not intend to injure the officer and denies murder.

Read live updates on this story and more from across Merseyside.

The 34-year-old officer, a father of two, was deploying a stinger device to end a high-speed police pursuit.

He was responding with a colleague to reports of a burglary in Woodchurch Road, Birkenhead, in the early hours of 5 October.

Fellow officers tried to save PC Phillips' life but he died shortly after arriving at hospital.

'Determined and ruthless'

Ian Unsworth QC, for the prosecution, said Mr Williams, then 18, of Wallasey, and another man, 30-year-old Philip Stuart, of Prenton, Wirral, had burgled a shop in Birkenhead, stealing the keys to the Mitsubishi.

The truck was spotted by an unmarked police vehicle and the officers gave chase, joined shortly afterwards by another patrol car which recorded the pursuit.

Mr Williams drove at "vastly excessive speeds", Mr Unsworth said, along narrow residential roads, through red lights and on the wrong side of the road.

He struck a parked car during the chase in a "determined and ruthless attempt to avoid being apprehended".

Mr Unsworth said PC Phillips was "simply trying to bring the stolen vehicle to a controlled stop".

He said the officer ought not to have positioned himself on the central reservation, and should have been wearing high visibility clothing, but "whatever the rights and wrongs" of that, he was "clearly visible".

Instead of driving over the device, Mr Williams drove off the road at his victim, the jury heard.

The prosecution claimed Mr Williams "used the truck as a weapon to murder PC Phillips".

He could have stopped, driven over the stinger, he could have done a U-turn, but chose not to, Mr Unsworth said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption PC Phillips' widow Jen and his parents and family attended the court

The jury was shown a series of CCTV images and video taken from the dashboard camera of the police Volvo recording the chase and police radio commentary as Mr Williams reached speeds of up to 80mph.

Mr Unsworth said: "[Clayton Williams] chose to drive towards PC Phillips, a person he could clearly see. He chose to turn sharply to the left. He chose to drive directly at PC Birkett. He chose to flee the scene and he chose to evade arrest."

In contrast the barrister said PC Phillips had "little choice".

He could have leapt into the carriageway and risked being struck by two police vehicles or remained where he was or moved backwards and risked being killed, he said.

"It wasn't much of a choice and he stood not much of a chance.

"It was, you may think, a cowardly and merciless act."

After hitting PC Phillips, Mr Williams drove back on to the road in the direction of a second officer, PC Thomas Birkett, who had to leap out of the way, the court heard.

The prosecution said to drive a large truck at speed towards any human being and then turn into them was "powerful evidence" of someone acting with intention to "at very least cause really serious injury, if not to kill".

Mr Williams denies murder.

He also denies a second count of attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to PC Birkett.

He has admitted the burglary in which the car was stolen and aggravated vehicle taking.

The trial continues.

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