Policeman drops inquest anonymity bid after agency challenge

A police officer who is to testify at an inquest into the deaths of five teenagers who were in a car which crashed into a wall while apparently being chased by police withdrew an application for anonymity after objections by the bereaved families and the Press Association.

Acting Sergeant Paul Sandeman, represented by solicitors Russell Jones and Walker, applied to East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze for an anonymity order under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, on the grounds that he had genuine fears for his personal safety, and the safety of his family, if he were to be identified.

Under the application, his name, number and address would have been withheld from the public, and he would have been allowed to testify from behind a screen, so that he could be seen only by the Coroner and lawyers at the hearing.

He also asked that the evidence and material submitted to the Coroner to support the application should be withheld from interested parties at the inquest.

Acting Sergeant Sandeman was driving a police vehicle which was said to have been in the vicinity of the crash in which the five teenagers died, which happened in Battle Road, St Leonard's, East Sussex, on October 29, November 2005.

The five teenagers who died were Daniel Carwardine and Danielle Martin, both 16, Lee Morgan and Barrie Mackay, both 15, and 17-year-old Kelly Goring, all from St Leonard's.

Daniel, of Beauchamp Road, Barrie, of London Road, and Lee, of Chambers Road, all died from multiple injuries, including severe chest injuries.

Lee also suffered a fractured spine. Danielle and Kelly, who both lived in Quebec Road, suffered severe head injuries.

The anonymity application was made without notice to the parties, but Mr Craze ordered Russell Jones and Walker to tell the Press Association that it was being made, and to supply relevant documents, and set aside a date in early January for a hearing if there were objections to the order.

The Press Association and the bereaved families argued against the application, saying that the officer's name was already well known – the families were told his name at a meeting about the case with the Crown Prosecution Service.

He was also one of a number of parties being sued in connection with the case, and papers in which he was named, and which were public documents, had already been filed at court.

He was also known to be a player with a local rugby club, and was often named in match reports.

In addition, there seemed to be little evidence to justify a claim that there was a credible threat to his safety or that of his family, and his home address was already known to at least one of the families of those who died.

Acting Sergeant Sandeman withdraw his application – which was not supported by Sussex Police – before the date of the hearing at which it was to have been dealt with after the Coroner indicated that he believed that an anonymity order would be worthless as the officer's name was known to the families and had appeared in public on many occasions.

Mr Craze said the officer's address would be given as the police station at which he was based, saying this was routine procedure in Coroners'

courts.

The inquest started at Hastings yesterday.

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