A widow whose husband was killed in a police chase more than 20 years ago hopes finally to be given answers about his death in an inquest that opens today.
Her husband, Onese Power, a painter and decorator, died in August 1997 at the age of 51 after hitting a metal bollard and coming off his Kawasaki motorbike in Camden Town, north London. Police said that they had started chasing him because he was speeding.
Ann Power, 71, has campaigned to find out what happened after the original inquest in 1998 recorded an open verdict. She was granted a new inquest in 2017 after the High Court found that there were serious deficiencies with the first one. The new inquest will be held at St Pancras coroner’s court.
The High Court ruled that the original inquest should have examined damage on the police car to see if it had been caused by an impact with the motorbike. Ms Power represented herself, an experience that her new lawyers have described as “disempowering and traumatising”. The Metropolitan Police did not disclose witness statements before the inquest and the hearing was not told that officers involved had given identical witness statements.
At the original inquest Mrs Power suggested to officers that they had followed her husband because they “saw a black man on a distinctive motorcycle”, a charge that was denied. She hopes that the new inquest will return a narrative verdict, providing a factual commentary as to how her husband died.
Ms Power lived with her husband in Shepherds Bush, west London. Their three sons were 15, 21 and 23 at the time of the crash. She was with one of the sons at their holiday home in Clacton-on-Sea when police told her that Mr Power had been killed. “I had never known what shock was but whatever it was, I went into it. We all did,” she told the Ham and High newspaper.
Ms Power has been supported by Inquest, a charity that is campaigning for all families to have access to legal advice after state-related deaths. She wrote on her crowdfunding page: “We passionately believe that all deaths involving the police must be investigated properly.”
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Stephen Collier, the officer who was driving the police car in the chase, and Steven Heatley, the officer in the passenger seat, are expected to be represented at the inquest. The force has said that it will co-operate fully.