‘Murdered’ PC’s family weep in court as footage of him being killed by stolen truck is played to the jury at trial of his teenage killer
The family of the police officer who was run over and killed by a speeding stolen truck have wept in court as the CCTV footage of his final moments was played at the trial of his ‘cowardly’ killer.
Clayton Williams, 19, gave PC Dave Phillips ‘no chance’ as he struck him in a Mitsubishi 4×4 while the officer was laying down a ‘Stop Stick’ or ‘stinger’ to end a high-speed chase, a court heard.
The father-of-two was tossed into the air and suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries after Williams allegedly used the pick-up truck ‘as a weapon’ in Wallasey, Merseyside, last October.
PC Phillips’ wife, Jen, and parents were seen in tears as the footage of him bending down to deploy the tyre-puncturing device seconds before he was killed was shown to Manchester Crown Court.
Williams has pleaded not guilty to the murder, claiming he did not intend to injure or kill the officer.
Clayton Williams, 19, (left) murdered PC Dave Phillips (right)
PC Phillips’ widow, Jen, and his parents Carol and Robin (pictured together) wept in court as the CCTV footage of his final moments was played at the trial of his ‘cowardly’ killer
The court heard that the 34-year-old officer was trying to stop the speeding truck following a burglary at an estate agents when he was fatally hit.
CCTV and police dash-cam footage played to the jury showed PC Phillips crouching by the central reservation before being propelled onto the roadside by the force of the speeding truck.
Before the video was shown to the jury, Prosecutor Ian Unsworth QC said: ‘You will be able to make out his body being propelled once he has been struck by the truck.’
Grainy images taken at a distance show PC Phillips going over the truck and his colleague, PC Birkett, running out of the way.
PC Birkett had run towards his stricken colleague but Williams then drove at him and the officer was forced to jump out of the way as the truck sped past him.
Police Sergeant Martin Mayne in the pursuing police car then called out on his radio: ‘Officer down. Officer down.’
The prosecutor said PC Phillips was ‘clearly visible’ and he described the alleged murder as a ‘cowardly and merciless act’.
He told the court that Williams, then 18, of Wallasey and Philip Stuart, 30, of Prenton, Wirral, had burgled a shop in Birkenhead, before stealing the keys to the Mitsubishi.
The truck was spotted by an unmarked police car and the officers gave chase, shortly joined by another patrol car which recorded the pursuit.
Williams drove at speeds of up to 80mph along narrow residential roads, through red lights and on the wrong side of the road, the prosecutor said.
Mr Unsworth said he then struck a parked car during the chase in a ‘determined and ruthless attempt to avoid being apprehended’ following the burglary.
Williams then mounted the central reservation and hit PC Phillips who fell ‘lifeless’ onto the road.
‘As events unfolded, he (PC Phillips) stood little or no chance. It was, you would think, a cowardly and merciless act, Mr Unsworth said.
‘PC Phillips’ fate was sealed. He was struck by the front of the vehicle and was tossed into the air before falling, lifeless onto the roadway.
‘We suggest that the defendant used the truck as a weapon and that he used it to murder PC Phillips.’
The barrister told the jury that the way in which Williams drove the vehicle at the officer showed he had the intention to injure or kill.
‘The officer, Police Constable David Phillips, was doing no more than placing a special device known as a Stop Stick across the road,’ Mr Unsworth said, ‘He was simply trying to bring the stolen vehicle to a controlled stop.
‘If the defendant had driven over the device, the Stop Stick would then have acted to puncture the tyres and slow the vehicle down.’
But instead of driving over the device, Williams drove off the road at his victim, the jury heard.
Mr Unsworth said: ‘The officer was, as you will see from the film recording, clearly visible, and, we suggest, had been for some distance beforehand.
‘As events unfolded he stood little or no chance.
‘PC Phillips moved backwards from where he was. Once the truck was a very short distance from the officer, the defendant turned it sharply to the left.
The officer’s widow, Jen, sat in the public gallery just yards from Williams in the dock, as the jury listened to the case against the defendant.
The court heard that PC Phillips suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries and was pronounced dead a short time later despite efforts to save his life from his fellow officers.
‘He could not and would not survive his injuries,’ Mr Unsworth added, as Mrs Phillips sniffled and dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
Williams, dressed in a blue fleece jacket with a white shirt and blue tracksuit bottoms, sat impassively as footage of him careering through residential streets with two police vehicles in tow was shown to Manchester Crown Court.
Williams has denied a second count of attempt to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to PC Birkett.
He admitted the burglary in which the car was stolen and aggravated vehicle taking at an earlier hearing in January.
Williams and his accomplice Philip Stuart burgled Oxton Estates in Birkenhead, shortly after 1am on Monday October 5.
The pair stole a red Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck belonging to the owner of the property and made their way to Stuart’s home in Prenton where they unloaded stolen property.
They took electrical goods, a cash box, jewellery, spectacles, diaries, two bins, mobile phones and fish tank accessories as well as keys to the Mitsubishi.
The stolen truck was spotted by police at 1.41am before fleeing and was next seen shortly before 2am, the court heard.
The unmarked BMW police vehicle pursued the pick-up truck at speeds of up to 80mph through the Wirral.
Williams collided with a parked red Ford Fiesta as he sped through the streets, the jury was told.
The truck mounted the kerb at the central reservation and struck PC Phillips, who was waiting with a stinger, at around 2.08am, the court heard.
Audio from the police radio channel was played to the jury and Sgt Mayne, the first officer on the scene, could be heard saying: ‘Officer down. Officer down.’
Williams was arrested the day after the fatal incident, and when approached he told officers: ‘I give up, I give up,’ before he stated: ‘It’s not me.’
During a series of interviews he gave three prepared statements, the court heard.
In the first statement he accepted he was involved in the burglary, he was the driver of the truck and that his driving was dangerous.
He explained he moved his vehicle to the right to avoid spikes glinting on the road when his wheels locked on the kerb.
He then described how the wheels of the truck became trapped either side of the central reservation and PC Phillips tried to pull the stinger device across.
In his second statement, Williams said he was ‘a cannabis addict’ who was heavily under the influence at the time of the incident and his recollection was affected by that.
Mr Unsworth told the jury: ‘He stated that PC Phillips had run into his vehicle. Thus he was now shifting from his account that his wheels had become locked, to one that was based upon his own drug-induced state at the time.,
‘In assessing the truthfulness of that account, you may wish to consider the evidence of his driving over a period of miles. He was, we suggest, in control of that vehicle and was able to control it in very testing circumstances at high speed over a relatively prolonged period.’
In his final prepared statement Williams stated his accomplice, Stuart, suggested they go around the stop stick.
Mr Unsworth said: ‘The harsh reality is, that for all the defendant’s varying accounts, he chose to drive off the carriageway.
‘He chose to drive towards PC Phillips, a person he could clearly see. He chose to turn sharply to the left. He chose to drive directly at PC Birkett. He chose to flee the scene and he chose to evade arrest.
‘PC Phillips had little choice. Had he chosen to leap into the carriageway in front of him, he would have risked being struck by two police vehicles. He could either remain where he was and risk being killed or move backwards and risk being killed. It wasn’t much of a choice and he stood not much of a chance.’
PC Phillips, who had been an officer for nine years, left behind his wife, 28, and daughter Abigail, seven, and three-year-old Sophie.
His wife, Jen, was pictured wearing her late husband’s name badge as she arrived at court for the murder trial.
Thousands of mourners and police officers in ceremonial uniform lined the streets of Liverpool for PC Phillips’ funeral at the city’s Anglican cathedral in November.
The trial continues.