A POLICE officer reached "excessively fast" speeds while driving through Brighton on an emergency call before hitting a pedestrian who later died, a panel has heard.

Serving Pc Richard Harris was driving a marked police car through a built-up area of the city at night when he struck 79-year-old David Ormesher.

His Ford Mondeo was travelling at 53mph-55mph when it hit the pensioner in August 2017, but it is alleged it had been doing up to 70mph shortly before.

The speed limit in the area, which features bus stops, pubs and pedestrian crossings, is 20mph.

The Argus:

Pc Harris denied gross misconduct over the incident when he appeared for a disciplinary hearing.

His colleague, Pc Samantha Cooper, who was a passenger in the police car when it struck Mr Ormesher, defended Pc Harris.

She said in her statement: "I actually feel that comfortable with Pc Harris that if I didn't have to wear a seat belt I wouldn't.

"I could have made a cup of tea in the car - that's how safe Pc Harris was driving.

"Pc Harris did everything he possibly could, his driving was faultless, in my opinion."

Pc Cooper added that she thought Pc Harris has been treated "appallingly" throughout the criminal and disciplinary investigations.

"I think it's disgusting", she said.

The Argus:

The panel heard that Pc Harris is no longer under investigation for an offence after the Crown Prosecution Service declined authorisation.

The hearing is taking place at the offices of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner in Sackville House in Lewes.

Mr Ormesher's daughter and daughter-in-law were in the room to listen to proceedings.

James Berry, bringing the allegations against Pc Harris on behalf of the police force, said: "It is the appropriate authority's case that Pc Harris's speed and the manner of his driving were neither safe nor necessary, reasonable and proportionate, and for that reason Pc Harris breached standards of policing behaviour to the level of gross misconduct.

The Argus:

"From the moment that Pc Harris turned on to Eastern Road, he was driving too fast, with insufficient planning for the actions of other road users, and his excessively fast and unsafe driving resulted in him colliding at speed with Mr Ormesher."

After the crash, the officers ensured CPR was given to Mr Ormesher straight away but he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

The hearing is expected to last up to five days.