Following an investigation by Thames Valley Police, a man who was on day release from prison has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a police officer.
Luke Haywood, aged 32, formerly of Ian Mikardo Way, Reading, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter at Reading Crown Court today (31/1).
At the same hearing he was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment. This will be served consecutively to the sentence of nine years' imprisonment which he received in April 2014.
On 30 November 2013, while on day release from prison Haywood was driving a stolen Mazda, which was given to him by a friend.
PC Gareth Browning was on duty in Whitley, Reading, when he attempted to stop the vehicle but it struck him.
PC Browning sustained serious injuries from which he never recovered and sadly he died on 1 April last year.
Following today’s hearing PC Browning’s family released this tribute: “Gareth was a loving husband, father, son and brother and a wonderful friend and colleague.
“Whilst this sentence in no way helps to ease the pain of our loss we are grateful to Thames Valley Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their work on this case and to TVP for their continued support of our family.”
Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Ross said: “PC Gareth Browning put his life on the line to serve and protect the public and on 30 November 2013 he made the ultimate sacrifice when he was struck by a stolen vehicle.
“Gareth and a colleague used a stop stick in an attempt to stop the stolen car which was being driven by Luke Haywood, who was on day release from prison. The vehicle, which was being driven by Haywood recklessly and at speed, hit Gareth who suffered serious injuries and needed constant care from that day on.
“Gareth never recovered from his injuries and sadly he died on 1 April last year. Gareth’s death was a stark reminder of the sacrifices that police officers make across the country.
“Gareth was proud to be a police officer, and we could not be more proud of him.
“Gareth was a hugely respected police officer and friend whose colleagues have felt his loss every day since the incident occurred.
“He was also a wonderful husband and father and our thoughts still go out to his family who must miss him terribly.
“The force will continue to support Gareth’s family as well as staff and officers who have been affected by the incident.
“In April 2014 Haywood was jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, one count of aggravated vehicle taking and one count of going equipped for burglary. However, following Gareth’s death last year the Attorney General granted the authority to prosecute Haywood with manslaughter.
“Although I am satisfied that Haywood pleaded guilty to manslaughter and saved Gareth’s family and witnesses the painful task of attending court for trial, this is little consolation because no conviction or sentence will ever bring back Gareth.”
James Cable, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “This case represents a tragedy for Gareth’s family and friends, who have been devastated by his appalling injuries and his subsequent death. I cannot praise Gareth’s family enough; they have remained dignified and courageous throughout, despite the unimaginable nightmare they have endured.
“We have worked closely with Thames Valley Police since this investigation was launched, sought consent from the Attorney General to prosecute, as Haywood had already been convicted of offences arising out of the same incident, and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved. We know that nothing will bring Gareth back to his family and friends, but we hope that today’s conviction and sentence bring them at least a small sense that justice has been done. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time.”