Claire did not know what to do, to say, to think. What she does remember was that the police officers were kind.
One of them assured her that, whatever else she was facing, she need not worry about the legal process.
‘He said a man had tried to do a U-turn and gone straight into David. It was a clear-cut case of dangerous driving and there were witnesses. Justice would be done.
‘At least that was one thing I did not have to worry about.’
But you were wrong. He might have been kind, but the rest of his farce weren't.
At Cambridge Crown Court, pensioner William Curtis, 88, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving.
No, I know what you're thinking - 'But the police did their jobs! Why are you complaining?'
It was no thanks to Bedfordshire Police. Despite the assurances of that first officer, the force initially refused to bring charges against Curtis, suggesting to Claire that her husband had been partly to blame for the accident. This was simply not true, and was indeed challenged by the coroner at David’s inquest.
Claire, now 68, has spent the past four years challenging officers, all the way up to and including Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, and enlisting the help of her local MP.
Why? Laziness? No. Corruption. What else can you call this?
Claire discovered that the pensioner the police seemed unwilling to blame was the grandfather of a civilian police employee.
And incredibly, lying to the real victim.
I remember asking them, tongue-in-cheek, if the old man was related, because I couldn’t see another explanation. I was told: “No, no, absolutely not.”
‘But he was, and it was subsequently confirmed that his granddaughter had emailed officers working on the case for information, and her husband had sat in on his interview.’
How are they not facing more than simply public opprobium in a national newspaper?
The Chief Constable’s statement on the sorry affair acknowledges that Claire succeeded where his officers had failed.
‘The failings in the investigation . . . undoubtedly compounded the pain, suffering and grief that Mr Fudge’s wife and family have had to endure since his death, and I am genuinely sorry,’ he said.
‘If it had not been for their relentless campaigning there is real potential this would have slipped by and justice would have been missed. I’m so pleased that didn’t happen. We have reimbursed the cost of their private investigation, which played a key role in the matter being re-opened.’
You pay back the money and think that's the end of it? What about those officers who handled the case?
Yet no one has been disciplined for the police failings. Claire says one of the officers involved has been promoted. Given that this whole case was about accountability, that rankles.
As you would expect.
H/T: SadButMadLad via Twitter