Chelmsford: Lorry driver convicted of death by dangerous driving
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Specialist officers from our serious collision investigation unit have secured the conviction of a lorry driver who caused a fatal collision in Chelmsford.
On Thursday 23 September 2021, serving Essex Police officer PC Tris Baker was off duty whilst travelling on the A1060 in Roxwell at about 1.50pm when the car he was driving was struck by a lorry being driven by Robert Harrison.
Tragically, Tris, aged 41, died at the scene. He was a serving Essex Police children and young person officer and was based in Brentwood.
Following a thorough investigation into the collision completed by our serious collision investigation unit, Robert Harrison, 38, of St Clair Close, Clacton, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
At the first court hearing Harrison admitted the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving but, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service, a decision was made to pursue a conviction for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.
As part of the investigation into Harrison’s sleep history it transpired that he was vulnerable to falling asleep in monotonous situations such as driving on a familiar road, sleeping only between five and six hours per night and requiring strong doses of caffeine in order to carry out his day-to-day responsibilities.
The trial was heard at Chelmsford Crown Court over four days and today, 14 June, a jury found Harrison guilty of the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.
He will be sentenced on 20 July.
'This guilty verdict matches the gravity of the situation'
Detective inspector Mark Fraser, who led our investigation, said:
“Harrison’s actions led to Tris, who was deeply loved by his friends and family, losing his life on September 2021. “Although Harrison pleaded guilty to the death by careless driving offence, the evidence indicated that this incident was dangerous driving as opposed to careless driving. We pursued the more serious charge and today the jury have returned a guilty verdict which matches the gravity of the situation. “Those who were close to Tris have handled themselves with the utmost dignity in the 18 months since the tragic incident and the whole investigative team has been humbled. “Tris was well loved at home and in the force and I know nothing can ever change what happened, but I sincerely hope today’s outcome can be of some comfort to everyone close to him.”
Tris’s partner, Temporary Sgt Faye Matthams, also a serving Essex Police officer, expressed her gratitude to Essex Police Serious Collision Unit, especially PC Jenny Pirie, the family liaison officer, for their support and for conducting a thorough and professional investigation.