Greater Manchester Police has applied to keep secret the name of a ‘covert’ officer involved in a police pursuit which ended in two deaths. Officers were pursuing a stolen BMW on cloned plates being driven by Brandon Pryde, 18, as it went the wrong way on the M60 – it hit a red Vauxhall being driven by David Faulkner, 66.
Mr Pryde, a laborer from Wythenshawe, and Mr Faulkner, died at the scene. The incident followed a police pursuit through south Manchester which ended in a crash on a stretch of the M60 close to junction 27 in Stockport on May 27 last year.
Inquests into both deaths will be held in July. At pre-inquest hearings held at Stockport Coroners’ Court today (Thursday) it emerged that GMP has applied to the coroner for an anonymity order for one of the officers involved, referred to in court only as D9.
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The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has investigated the crash. It has previously said that at around 10.15pm on May 27, police saw a black BMW traveling on Altrincham Road towards the Sharston Link. The car was believed to be stolen and, after the driver failed to stop for officers, a pursuit began.
The BMW is understood to have traveled onto the M56 and then the M60, before leaving the motorway at junction 27 for Stockport East. It drove back onto the M60, traveling on the wrong side of the carriageway in the direction of oncoming traffic, the watchdog said. The BMW was then involved in a crash with the red Vauxhall being driven by Mr Faulkner.
It is understood the BMW was not being chased in the seconds before the crash at around 11pm.
The pre-inquest hearing into the death of Mr Pryde, also known as Brandon Geasley, today (Thursday) heard GMP had submitted a formal application for an anonymity order concerning D9, an officer said to be working in a covert role and who was the ‘tactical advisor’ during the pursuit.
D9, the court was told, has also provided a personal statement in support of the application alongside a statement from a commanding officer. None of the documents were read out in court. Jodie Blackstock, representing Mr Pryde’s family, expressed concern that the role of D9 described in GMP’s application wasn’t clear. Caroline Jones, representing GMP, said the force ‘recognized the importance of openness in the proceedings’ but sought to protect the identity of the officer in the up-coming inquiry because of his role.
Assistant Coroner Adrian Farrow invited the M.EN. to make observations and our reporter said the media was at a ‘disadvantage’ without seeing the application. Mr Farrow ordered GMP to provide the M.EN. with the application ahead of any potential challenge to the proposed anonymity order and also to provide the coroner with further clarity on the precise role of D9.
The coroner also ruled a number of documents had to be disclosed to Mr Pryde’s legal team including his GP’s assessment on his diagnosis of ADHD, his previous convictions, any disciplinary records for the police officers concerning previous pursuits and dash-cam footage from the three police cars involved.
At the pre-inquest hearing into the death of Mr Faulkner, which followed after the hearing concerning Mr Pryde, the coroner ruled that the full hearing would consider Mr Faulkner’s ‘article two’ rights under the Human Rights Act.
Mr Faulker’s son, Anthony Faulkner, told the court: “He’s innocently driving home on the motorway doing everything he should have been doing and he’s now not with us.”
Mr Farrow said: “This was a police pursuit at high speed on roads where there were other road users present.”
Mr Pryde’s inquest is due to take place from July 4. Mr Farrow ordered that it would not be a jury inquest after hearing Mr Pryde’s family did seek a jury. The inquest will be followed by the inquest into the death of Mr Falkner the following week. Anthony Faulkner said that ‘provisionally’ he did not think a jury was required but the coroner agreed to give him further time to consider his position.