A POLICE officer is suing his force over claims a defective squad car caused a major crash.
Pc Christopher Pearson lost control of a Northumbria Police vehicle which collided with a kerb and a pedestrian barrier before flipping over up to six times and filling with smoke.
The 38-year-old, who was based at Houghton Police Station, suffered a back and knee injury and still remains on restricted duties at work almost five years later.
His passenger Pc Emma Wilkinson, also 37, who was just weeks away from getting married, suffered a serious back injury and is still not back on the frontline.
Pc Pearson, a one time semi professional footballer who played alongside former Sunderland defender Gary Bennett in his early days, has launched a legal claim for damages against Northumbria Police.
He claims faults with the police car, including a bald tyre and loose wheel nuts, made him lose control.
The smash happened at Front Street, South Hetton, County Durham, in August 2006.
The officers had been making their way back to the police station when they noticed a suspicious vehicle and started to follow.
It was after Pc Pearson negotiated a bend the car went off the road.
He told the Newcastle County Court: “As we started to leave the bend I could see he road straightening up and at that point in time the vehicle should have been moving in that straight line but the vehicle itself, rather than going straight, seemed to be going, the front near side at that point then hit the kerb.
“At no point in time did I think at all that car would have hit the kerb, would lose traction to the extent it did.
“I could not understand why the vehicle was going in that direction.
“In situations like that there is a lot of things going through your mind, you are wondering what the hell is going on.”
Pc Pearson denied suggestions he lost control because of “over-steering” and said the car swerved due to a malfunction or defect which was out of his control.
He told the court: “I can visualise it, I’m under no mistake, that is what I felt when I drove.
“The next thing I knew the vehicle rolled five to six times before coming to a stop next to a tree.”
Pc Wilkinson told the court she is still on restricted duties at work after the crash.
The officer, who has launched her own legal battle against the force, told the court: “I recall we were travelling along the road and it was dark, the road was damp, we had two-tones (sirens) on.
“As we were moving around the slight bend I remember the vehicle slightly moving to the right and a loud bang, a very, very loud bang.
“I looked at Chris, he had his hands on the steering wheel, he said ‘got it’.
“The next thing the car filled with smoke and I was aware we were rolling.
“There was a period when I must have blacked out, I recall vehicles stopping. It was over in seconds.”
Northumbria Police deny liability.
The trial continues.