Inquest hears of tragedy of boy’s death

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A TEENAGER being chased by a police officer died after running into two parked cars.

Sam Foulkes, 15, sustained a fatal head injury and died six days later at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital a jury inquest heard.

PC Stephen Mark Sayer, who chased Sam in Rhos in February 2008, said he intended to take the youngster home to his parents because he was so drunk he could hardly stand up.

PC Sayer and his colleague Special Constable Sarah Davies went down to Ponciau Banks Park in plain clothes on February 15 where they were targeting underage drinkers.

It was part of Operation Beales to crackdown on youngsters congregating in Wrexham parks, sometimes in groups of up to 80, and causing a nuisance.

SC Davies first noticed Sam had fallen on Duke Street and nearly dropped into the path of a car at about 8.45pm.

The police officers parked at the Hafod Social Club near to Ponciau Banks Park and first approached a group of youths at the park.

The jury was shown footage from a headcam that PC Sayer was wearing which showed him asking a youth for identification.

Sam, next to the youth, then stumbled into the officer and PC Sayer told him: “You look like you have had a few already.”

The video shows Sam replying ‘I’m all right’ to which PC Sayer said: “All right? You can’t even stand up.”

PC Sayer was heard saying he would take Sam home and Sam’s friend said he would do it.

In a statement PC Sayer said Sam then “bolted” in the direction of the park before turning back into the car park of the Hafod club.

“He ran towards Queen Street and I could see him at the junction of Duke Street,” he said.

“I turned into Duke Street and I grabbed the radio to shout out.

“I saw him running across Duke Street and I was half way across the road when he catches the wing mirror of a car, spins backwards into the lights of another car and goes straight down hitting his head.

“I could hear a dull thud, a hollow clack.”

Questioned about chasing Sam, PC Sayer said: “I didn’t want to be a person who has stopped to talk to a person who was drunk and then left. It would be on my conscience if anything had happened.

“Had I not chased after him anything could have happened.”

Just before Duke Street the footage from the head camera broke off.

North East Wales coroner John Hughes said a full forensic examination of the equipment revealed the cause was a cable being disconnected. There was “nothing sinister” about what had happened.

The jury at Flint Magistrates’ Court also heard evidence that at 8pm that night, an hour before the chase, Sam was stopped by two other police officers in a Chinese takeaway on Market Street, Rhos.

The officers took cigarettes off him because of his age but said he did not appear to be drunk.

Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers said the alcohol in Sam’s blood was 229mg per 100ml, the equivalent of about two-and-a-half times the legal limit for driving.

Dr Rodgers said the cause of death was severe blunt force head injuries caused by a collision with two parked vehicles. A secondary cause was acute alcohol intoxication.

Sam, a pupil at Ysgol y Grango in Rhos, died on February 21 at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

His mother Jane Harriet Foulkes told the hearing the family, from Glanrafon, Rhos, had been left in “absolute ruins” since the death.

Before her son left on that evening she had told him: “Be careful, I need you.”

The inquest will continue today with evidence from a number of young people.

See full story in the Leader

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