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WA cops broke pursuit rules, inquest told

AAP logoAAP 6/09/2016

Two police officers breached emergency driving rules when they pursued a stolen car, leading to a crash that killed an innocent Perth woman four years ago, an inquest has heard.

Sharon Ann D'Ercole, 50, died from multiple injuries when a police officer's car struck her vehicle as he drove through a red light while chasing a stolen Audi in Dianella in April 2012.

Ms D'Ercole's 16-year-old daughter Lashay, who was celebrating her birthday, was also injured in the crash.

Constable Gareth Hopley was found not guilty by a jury in November 2013 of dangerous driving causing Ms D'Ercole's death.

Mr Hopley, who was a qualified pursuit driver, quit the force in December 2013 during an internal affairs investigation.

But the WA Coroner's Court is now holding its own examination into Ms D'Ercole's death.

Counsel assisting the coroner Aneta Sukoski said in her opening address Mr Hopley and his then-colleague, who cannot be identified, were found to have breached the WA Police emergency driving policy.

Ms Sukoski said the coroner could not make a finding "inconsistent with the result of any earlier proceedings" (the jury's verdict).

"Accordingly, the only issue before this court is an exploration of the training and implementation of the emergency driving policy for police," she said.

Ms D'Ercole's husband, Ron, told reporters outside court it was difficult to relive what happened but he hoped the coroner could provide some recommendations to improve safety.

"It's quite an emotional time. It has been for four years and five months. It still feels very fresh. We're all feeling it, particularly my daughter [who] was involved in the accident," he said.

Mr D'Ercole said he had had a "heart-to-heart" with Mr Hopley's passenger, who had testified on Tuesday.

"The police officers didn't go out on that day to cause any problems to anybody, let alone causing a death, so it must be very difficult for them like us," he said.

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