Watchdog says police acted properly in car chase before Brighton man’s death

Posted On 12 Aug 2017 at 5:00 pm

An independent watchdog has found that police acted properly in trying to catch a reckless driver who knocked over and killed a Brighton man earlier this year.

Jonos Sasvari, 78, of Little Preston Street, Brighton, was crossing Old Steine at the bottom of St James’s Street when he was hit by a car driven by Gavin Dawes.

Mr Sasvari, known as Hungarian John, died at the scene in January.

Dawes, 34, of Phoenix Rise, Brighton, was jailed for nine years in June for the hit and run killing.

Before crashing into Mr Sasvari, Dawes and his friend Richard Woolgar had been racing when they were spotted by police who chased them from Coldean towards Brighton town centre.

The two men went in different directions and Dawes had managed to pull ahead and out of sight of the pursuing police car when he smashed into Mr Sasvari.

Dawes pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving in April before being jailed in June. Woolgar, 36, of Donald Hall Road, Brighton, was jailed for a year at the same hearing at Hove Crown Court after he admitted dangerous driving.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) carried out an investigation into the police’s involvement in the incident that led to Mr Sasvari’s death.

The IPCC said: “The IPCC’s independent investigation into Sussex Police actions prior to a fatal road traffic collision in Brighton is complete and has concluded that the officers involved acted in accordance with their training and relevant policies.

“Jonos Sasvari, 78, was killed after he was struck by a Vauxhall Astra at the junction of St James’s Street and Old Steine, Brighton, on (Tuesday) 10 January.

“The investigation concluded that while police pursued the Astra prior to the collision with Mr Sasvari, as it had earlier failed to stop for police, officers had lost sight of the Astra at the time of the collision.

“The investigation examined CCTV footage, data from the police vehicle in-car data recorders, as well as analysing statements from witnesses and police officers and staff.

“The IPCC investigation identified no concerns with the actions of officers involved.

“The IPCC’s investigation report is now being considered for publication.”

The crash scene in Old Steine – Picture by Fabrizio Oliveri

Sussex Police Federation chairman Matt Webb said: “Although in my mind this result was never in doubt, officers from Brighton felt they were under investigation for seven months for simply doing their job, keeping the people of Brighton safe by trying to deal with individuals who wilfully flout the laws of the road.

“Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Jonos Sasvari who lost his life in this tragic incident.

“It is disappointing that it has taken so long for the IPCC to reach and report this conclusion.

“The police investigation convicted the person responsible four months ago in April and yet the IPCC due to their bureaucratic practices have allowed officers to have this matter hanging over them for such a disproportionately long length of time.”

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