‘The way he was treated was diabolical’: Family of hit and run victim make official complaint against police
- Credit: Archant
The family of a hit-and-run victim have slammed his 'diabolical' treatment at the hands of investigating police officers.
Brian Mitchell was struck by Graham Brooks on Lowestoft's High Street in November last year.
The 86-year-old suffered a bleed on the brain and died two days before Christmas.
In September, Brooks was jailed for 15 months.
The 60-year-old pizza delivery driver, who had 11 previous driving disqualifications, lied to police for months, denying any involvement and claiming damage caused to his car was from another incident.
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He ultimately pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, providing false information to obtain insurance and failing to stop and report an incident.
However, Mr Mitchell's family claim the initial police investigation lacked 'pace, energy and commitment' with basic protocol not being followed and vital evidence being left behind.
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Due to this the family have launched an official complaint against Lowestoft Police.
Graham Mitchell, Mr Mitchell's son, claims the first officers to attend the hit-and-run failed to start an accident book, failed to notify the Serious Collision Investigation Team and failed to collect damaged car parts from High Street.
He said: 'I think it was handled awfully.
'Ten days after the accident my sister Allison went back and collected debris that was still at the side of the road.
'The evidence turned out to be critical in Brooks' conviction because it had fibres on it from my dad's clothes.
'A week later that road was resurfaced - if she hadn't have gone back it would have been lost.
'We realised unless we went our own way no one would ever be held responsible.'
Mr Mitchell said the police's 'failings' and lack of communication contributed to the family's turmoil.
He said: 'It was a traumatic event and then with all the things the police hadn't done on top of it.
'Dad was deteriorating and when it came to his death at Christmas that was the tipping point for me.
'We were having to try and run the police operation on top of what happened to our dad.
'I had a bit of a breakdown and was signed off work for six weeks with depression.'
'The police's handling of the investigation contributed to the anxiety of what I was going through at that point.'
In the family's complaint they state: 'Due to the lack of interest shown in this case opportunities were missed.
'We have been failed on all levels by the officers in question at the beginning of this horrendous process.
'We of course want all 'best practices' adhered to and distributed across the force for future families who will sadly find themselves in similar circumstances.
'Potentially some officers have jeopardised our case against this person due to their failings at the onset of the accident.
'We would like a full investigation – along with any necessary disciplinary action against the officers involved.'
A spokesman for Suffolk Police said a complaint had been received and an investigation was under way.
'We can only begin such an investigation following the conclusion of a trial so as not to prejudice the judicial process.'
The Serious Collision Investigation Team was eventually drafted into the investigation when Brian's condition began to deteriorate.
And Mr Mitchell praised the work of the officers in the team and said: 'They have been a fantastic comfort for the family, we can't praise them enough – it's the Lowestoft Police we have the issue with.'
He added: 'I don't think for one moment Lowestoft Police thought about the impact on the family.
'I was disgusted to be honest, Dad was written off as a dementia-sufferer. He was one of life's great gentlemen and the way he was treated by police was diabolical.'
Brian was born in Lowestoft in 1931. He served in the Royal Air Force in the 1950s before making a name for himself as a trustworthy builder who valued precision above all else.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years Jean, and children Susan, Graham and Allison.