Police officer commended

AN Essex policeman has received a special commendation after conducting an investigation into a South African road crash in which 28 British coach passengers died.

AN Essex policeman has received a special commendation after conducting an investigation into a South African road crash in which 28 British coach passengers died.

Pc Richard Gould, who lives in Great Totham, was commended by the county's Chief Constable, David Stevens, after Essex coroner Malcolm Weir singled out his work for special merit.

Pc Gould was sent to South Africa two months after the 1999 crash, in which a coach careered off a steep, winding pass in the Drakensburg Mountains east of Johannesburg.

Among those who died in the single-vehicle accident were Brightlingsea couple, John Clifford, 63, and his 60-year-old wife Marian, who lived in Red Barn Road.


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Mr Clifford was a leading Brightlingsea businessman, an owner and director of Ruddock Electrical Contracts, while his wife had a passion for horticulture and drove a bus for elderly people.

Pc Gould, a road police officer with Essex Police since 1978, examined the scene of the crash, looking closely at road conditions, vehicle maintenance and weather patterns at the time of the accident.

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The traffic investigator is regarded as one of the county's most experienced, having attended thousands of fatal road accidents and often given expert opinion in court.

After sifting through the evidence, Pc Gould's report concluded: "The incident was caused by driver error. The driver mistook the accelerator and brake pedal, resulting in an increase of speed around a sharp corner."

Two years later 42-year-old coach driver Titus Dube was jailed for six years after admitting culpable homicide for his part in the crash, although his sentence was later overturned because it was ruled he had no criminal intent.

Pc Gould said: "This is an honour for the entire traffic investigation unit and not just for myself. It says a lot about the Traffic Investigation Unit in Essex."

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