Police reopen case of teacher killed by lorry
Police have reopened the investigation into the death of a 27-year-old teacher who was killed when he was struck by a lorry in Totterdown.
John and Janet Thompson lost their son Jake, from Totterdown, when he was hit by a lorry which was speeding moments before impact at the Three Lamps Junction crossing on the A37 in May 2011.
An inquest into Jake's death heard that the driver, Paul Vowles, was travelling at 38 miles per hour in a 30mph zone, moments before he passed traffic lights at the crossing which were "on the cusp" of changing from amber to red.
After the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges, Mr and Mrs Thompson began a campaign to get the case reviewed.
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After the parents, from Durham, highlighted what they felt were errors in the investigation, Avon and Somerset Police have now reopened the case and are set to make a fresh appeal for witnesses.
Jake's father said it was a big decision and a big step forward in getting answers over their son's death.
He said: "We believe there were errors in the first investigation and were things that should have been looked at and weren't."
Mr Thompson said he thought the decision signalled a change in attitude from the police, who he said had become "more open minded" about the investigation.
He said the family had always felt that something had been missing from the investigation.
"It wasn't just an emotive thing, we had genuine concerns," he said.
The 20 months since his son's death had been traumatic for the family, said Mr Thompson.
"It's been very painful," he said. "There's not a day goes by when we don't think about Jake. It's been traumatic and a lot of work has gone in from us and our solicitors. I'm not sure we will ever find peace from this.
"We felt we weren't getting anywhere for a long time but now we have a breakthrough."
The 61-year-old part-time nurse sat through the inquest in September with his retired wife Janet, 55, and daughter Jane, 24.
He recalled a difficult day at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court, reliving the last moments of Jake's life alongside the driver of the lorry which struck him as he stepped out onto the crossing.
Coroner Maria Voisin recorded a verdict of accidental death after hearing how Jake stepped out into the road while a red light was displayed to pedestrians.
He was hit by the wing mirror of a lorry travelling at 28mph or 29mph, according to the vehicle's tachograph, which showed it had slowed from a speed of 38mph shortly before the incident.
One witness at the inquest said he was "surprised" at the speed of the lorry approaching the lights while another recalled that the lights were "on the cusp" of changing to red as the lorry passed through.
Last month The Post reported that a new witness to the incident had been found.
Mr Thompson said he hoped the new police investigation would shed further light on the incident and lead to the case being re-opened by the Crown Prosecution Service.
"We feel it should be up to the court to decide if a crime was committed," he said.
Mr Thompson described his son as a popular teacher, who cherished his job at the Link School in Bath working with children who had been excluded from school. He said he was admired by his students who have now planted a tree in his memory.
Mrs Thompson said: "It's been a difficult journey and we're not there yet. We are pleased that Avon and Somerset police are taking our complaint seriously and hope that this re-investigation sheds new light on the events leading to the death of our only son."
David Robinson of Thompsons Solicitors, who has represented the family throughout their campaign, said: "For too long, the question as to why a young man was left dead while a speeding driver walked away with a clean licence has remained unanswered. For the sake of the Thompson family, we will be working to ensure this inquiry is dealt with without delay."
Avon and Somerset Police spokeswoman Catherine Foster said: "I can confirm that Avon and Somerset Police have re-opened their investigation into the road traffic collision involving Jake Thompson."
A CPS spokesman declined to comment on the case.