Teenager moped rider died while trying to evade police pursuit, inquest rules
A teenager who died in a moped crash was trying to get away from police who were pursuing him in unmarked cars, a jury has ruled.
Members of 18-year-old Henry Hicks's family burst into tears as a jury, sitting at St Pancras Coroner's Court, in north London, delivered a unanimous narrative verdict.
Two unmarked police cars had been following Mr Hicks, a carpenter from Islington, north London, when the incident happened on the evening of December 19 2014.
Mr Hicks died from blunt force trauma to the head when his moped collided with civilian vehicles.
The driver of one of the police vehicles, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the inquest that he had been following the teenager with the intention of pulling him over as he suspected he had been dealing in drugs.
The jury, who took a day to reach its decision, ruled: "Immediately prior to the collision Henry David Hicks was aware that plain clothes officers were in unmarked vehicles driving at whatever distance behind him and wanted him to stop.
"This was a police pursuit as defined by the Metropolitan Police Service standard operating procedure."
Mr Hicks's attempt to avoid police, his speeding and swerving along with the powerful 300CC moped he was driving, were among the contributing factors to the collision.
A road hump and a minicab in Wheelwright Street, Islington, were also among the contributory factors.
Senior coroner for Inner North London Mary Hassell said she would send a prevention of death report "in light of the jury's conclusion" so that lessons may be learned.
She said she is still thinking about the details it may include but that it may state the jury's inquest ruling.
The police driver, a PC who can only be named as officer A, had said he had not been "in pursuit" of the rider. He previously told the jury: "In my heart I knew that he hadn't seen me. He gave me absolutely no indication that he was aware of me."
The court has heard that Mr Hicks was found to be carrying bags of cannabis. Toxicology reports showed no drugs in his body.
Mr Hicks, who had been described in court by his older sister Claudia as "our family's glue", was found with bags of cannabis and multiple phones when he collided with another vehicle.
Following the crash, seven snap bags of skunk cannabis (5.7 grams) in a plastic Sainsbury's bag carried by the teenager were found by evidence officer Detective Sergeant Arvinder Marwaha, who arrived at Wheelwright Street at around 11pm.
It was "highly unlikely" Mr Hicks was carrying the seven bags solely for personal use, Det Sgt Marwaha told the inquest.
After the hearing Mr Hicks's family - including his father David, 54, mother Dione, 52, and sister Claudia, 23 - said they welcomed the ruling.
In a statement, they said: "Henry was 18 when he died and, as the police themselves said in the course of this inquest, he was a nice boy, polite, well brought up and from a good family.
"We are completely heartbroken and miss him every day. We will always miss him. Today confirms what we always believed had happened on that night."