THE son of a woman who died after being hit by a police car 26 years ago claims his family are victims of a “massive miscarriage of justice”.
When Raj Mahay’s mum Kishni, 64, was hit by a police car responding to a accident, it changed his life forever. She was thrown more that 30 yards. Minutes later Mahay came to her side and collapsed after seeing her lifeless body.
“My life changed that day – it was a 9/11 moment for me,” he told Eastern Eye.
“She was the spine of the family. She had a lot to look forward to.”
West Midlands Police have said the incident, which took place in the evening of Tuesday 14 March, 1989, was a “tragic accident”.
Mahay however believes the police, who have yet to apologise, were using excessive speed when they knocked down his mother, who was seen walking on a pelican crossing. He also reckons there was a “blatant cover up” with the original investigation to find the cause of his mother’s death.
“They have never apologised to this day. If they show compassion, they start to think it’s an admission of guilt,” said Mahay. Kishni left the family home at 7.30pm that day to get some Indian sweets for an upcoming wedding. Mahay, who was 24 at the time and the eldest of three siblings, was told to stay in until she came back.
“I remember watching Eastenders at the time,” he recalled.
“Then I got this call saying that my mum had been in an accident. “I went to the scene five minutes after the incident happened. I collapsed in my knees because I saw my mum lying there wrapped up in a blanket.”
Much to Mahay’s surprise, instead of receiving sympathy, he was abused by the officers.
“An officer came, grabbed me by the neck and pulled me up to my feet. He started abusing me, calling me: ‘P*** b*******, black b*******’. He tried to get me into the police car, saying: ‘Get into the f*****g car’.”
What shocked Mahay more was when he saw officers tampering with the evidence. He claimed: “In the corner of my eye I could see they were defacing the crime scene.
“They were kicking debris away, giving the distinct impression the accident happened away from the pelican crossing.”
An officer then allegedly kicked his mother’s shoe towards him; something he keeps with him to this day.
“I picked up the shoe because it’s the symbol of my justice for me. They wanted to keep my mother’s objects away from the pelican crossing. They wanted to make it out that she wasn’t directly in front of the police car.”
Mahay recalled how he was forced to identify his mother’s body afterwards because his father was too distraught.
He said: “The police took me to an interrogating room and said: ‘Your mother is responsible for her own death and we’re going to do an investigation based on that’. They pointed their finger towards me and said: ‘Watch your step’.
“When I went to see the body, that image will stay with me forever. I wanted to go home because I couldn’t take it anymore. The sergeant from the coroners office offered to drive me home.
“On the way he told me not to speak to any media. I didn’t say anything to him, but from that point on I thought this is nothing sort of a cover-up”
During the inquest, the coroner said Kishni had signs of cirrhosis of the liver, which Mahay believes makes her sound like a “chronic alcoholic”.
“She would’ve been 90 this year. She’s fit and healthy. She had no cirrhosis attributed to alcohol abuse.
“My mum came over from the subcontinent. She never tried any alcohol in her life. The post-mortem examinations report said my mother was an alcoholic when she never was. That’s an assignation of her character. That hurts me and makes me despair.
“My father said to me after the inquest: ‘They (Police) are corrupt, you can’t do anything, they have the best solicitors’. He told me to back off. But I was driven by the corruption and I wanted to get to the bottom of that.”
Now 51, Mahay continues to fight to get justice for his mother. He hired 3D animators to reconstruct the incident with computer-generated images and even met with the West Midlands police in 2008 and gave a detailed presentation regarding Kishni’s death.
The civil servant and father-of-two said: “They said to me they would consider all options and that everything is on the table; and that’s inclusive of an independent police case. However nothing came out of the meeting.
“There is an acute bend prior to the pelican crossing where my mum was killed. The police can override the limit in circumstances either in an emergency call-out or a chase, but nonetheless you have to practise caution because you’re in an urbanised area where there are people around.
“You have to take into account the other risk elements. They made the car into a deadly weapon because of their reckless driving.”
In 2009, Mahay was invited back for another meeting where modern traffic collision investigators was present.
“The discussion started well, but after 25 minutes it turned into a complete and utter farce.
“The modern traffic collision investigator came out with all his prepared facts and words of wisdom with a view to win me over. He repeated what had been concluded in the original investigation – that my mother was the sole contributing factor to her own death, which is still being upheld with no recourse for any further actions whatsoever.”
He claimed one of the officers present, chief inspector Phil Kaye, became “all autocratic” and “very assertive as his whole body language changed in an instant”, at which point Mahay left the building.
“We’ve faced a massive miscarriage of justice. When you’re dealing with life and death and it takes 26 years to see the actual facts come the fore, an apology doesn’t matter anymore.
“We want justice, we want those officers in that car put in court like any civilian would be; taken to task, cross-examined by the defence and opposition. The precious thing is life itself and for it to be cruelly taken away in those circumstances is hard to take.” West Midlands police superintendent Mark Payne said a modern traffic collision investigator examined the case to determine whether the original findings were correct.
“After applying modern techniques, the specialist investigator came to the view that the original findings were correct and that there was no rationale for any further investigation,” he said.
“I had a meeting with Mr Mahay to explain the outcome, that there were no more investigative opportunities, and that the view of the assessor was that it was a tragic accident.”