On Air Now Through The Night Midnight - 6:00am
Now Playing Tiesto The Business

Police Admit Failings In Fatal Crash Investigation

An inquest has heard that the original police investigation into a fatal accident involving a Jersey teenager in St Peter's Valley in March 2019 was flawed.

Aaron Banks (18) died after his car clipped a low granite wall, flipped on its side, and slid along the road before hitting an oncoming car.

A post-mortem exam concluded that he died of severe head injuries. No one in the other car was injured.

The inquest could not determine the reason why Aaron's car hit the wall.

It was determined that he had not been under the influence of drink or drugs, he wasn't speeding, and it wasn't a mechanical fault.

Advocate David Steenson, who represented the Banks family, said there were inconsistencies with the witness statements. He criticised a lack of detail and queried why more questions weren't asked. 

One witness suggested that a yellow Suzuki might have clipped Aaron's car or narrowly missed it - causing him to swerve - but collision investigator DC Donna Hewlett said there was no physical evidence to suggest that.

The driver of the yellow car said in an initial statement that she was lost and looking at a SatNav before the crash.

After it happened, she said she stopped immediately, got out to stop other vehicles, and called the police.

Advocate David Steenson called the statement 'inadequate from possibly the most important witness' and asked why a more detailed statement was not sought.

The woman also stated that she was a mental health nurse, with Advocate Steenson suggesting it was odd that she decided not to go back to the scene.

In a follow-up statement taken more than two years after the incident, she said she made no contact with Aaron's car and that she didn't go back to the scene because there were people already going to help and she is ‘not first-aid trained’.

In response to an email sent yesterday (24 May), while the inquest was in progress, she added that she also had a knee injury.

Another witness said in a follow-up statement that she saw the woman driving at slow speed on her mobile phone, but a previous statement said she was stationary.

The woman, who now lives in Scotland, was asked to give evidence at the inquest but said she didn't feel up to it because she is receiving ongoing cancer treatment.

Inspector David Turnbull, who took over the investigation in 2021 after concerns raised by the Banks family, said the initial statements were not as he would have expected and that there were significant gaps in information, which were challenging to rectify two years later.

He added that the original investigation had been poor and lessons have been learned, especially when it comes to statements.

Inspector Turnbull concluded that it was a tragic accident - adding that Aaron was 'clearly a very popular and well-liked young man with a loving and supportive family.'

"The original investigation hasn't helped the family and has still left a lot of questions which we still can't answer.

We shouldn't be where we are now.

Had we got this right in the first place with detailed statements, we wouldn't be in this difficult position."

Detective Constable Donna Hewlett, the Collision Investigator, said there was no evidence to suggest that either car involved was not in a roadworthy condition or that the weather or road conditions were a factor.

She was content that Mr. Banks was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash and said there was nothing to suggest that he was driving inappropriately or speeding excessively.

The wall had been damaged in a previous crash in November 2018, which caused it to essentially become a ramp.

DC Hewlett said this increased the elevation and rotation of Aaron's car as it flipped onto the road.

Tristan Dodd from the Infrastructure Department said the wall hadn't been fixed because it was considered to be low-risk.

"The location of the wall is still considered to be low-risk and not unusual within the context of Jersey's country road network."

A planning application is due to be submitted to remove the wall, which Mr. Dodd said was mainly a result of the circumstances of what happened in this accident.

The Deputy Viscount, Advocate Mark Harris, said it was very clear that opportunities had been missed to investigate aspects of this incident in more detail.

He has recommended that the wall either be replaced or removed and is writing to the police about what lessons can be learned.

A memorial for Aaron is currently in place at the site of the crash. Mr. Harris has suggested that the family be involved in what happens with the wall so the memorial can be handled sensitively.

The force has been contacted for further comment.

Hundreds of tributes were paid to Aaron after his death. He was due to become the youngest member of the Jersey Lifeboat Association.

More from Jersey News

Island FM VIP

Get more with the Island FM VIP!

Download Our App

Never miss a moment from Island FM

  • Available on the App Store
  • Available on Google Play
  • Just ask Amazon Alexa