The grieving mother of a gifted teenage footballer knocked down and killed by a driver has accused police of a cover-up after turning detective and discovering the motorist had links to the force that investigated her son’s death.
Tracey Milligan asserts that Lancashire Police failed in their duty to properly investigate Dylan Crossey’s 2016 death. Crossey was riding on a country road near Whitestake when he was struck and killed by a BMW driven David Harwood.
Mr Harwood, 46, who had been drinking before the crash, failed to stop and drove on to a rendezvous with a woman he had earlier met on the internet, leaving Dylan – who had played for Manchester City’s youth academy – injured in the road.
Later, Mr Harwood claimed he didn’t know he hit someone. His windscreen was also shattered.
Tracey Milligan claims that Lancashire Police failed properly to investigate Dylan Crossey’s death in 2016. He was riding on a country lane close to Whitestake when he was struck by a BMW driven David Harwood.
Despite this, Ms Milligan says police failed to obtain key CCTV footage of Harwood’s movements in the hours before the incident and did not interview potentially important witnesses. Officers did not perform a detailed reconstruction, which could have provided crucial clues.
The Lancashire Police have not commented on her claims. Harwood pleaded guilty to causing the death by dangerous driving but his trial collapsed March 2018 and he acquitted.
Before his trial, Ms Milligan heard rumours that Harwood was a director and shareholder of HB Panelcraft, a major vehicle repair company in Preston, and that the firm had a £280,000 contract to repair Lancashire Police vehicles.
Ms Milligan says a police family liaison officer denied there was any connection between the force and Mr Harwood and suggested the stress of her son’s death was causing her to believe ‘tittle-tattle’ and that she should seek medical help.
Ms Milligan was concerned that Harwood’s connection to the force would influence their investigation. She set about uncovering the truth. She took photographs of Lancashire Police vehicles on the forecourt of HB Panelcraft’s repair shop and videos of them on the back of the firm’s breakdown trucks.
Mr Harwood, 46, who had been drinking before the crash, failed to stop and drove on to a rendezvous with a woman he had earlier met on the internet, leaving Dylan – who had played for Manchester City’s youth academy – injured in the road
Ms Milligan said she confronted the family link officer with her evidence and he accepted that the force indeed had a contract. Ms Milligan told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It is a conflict of interest. Lancashire Police should not have investigated. I am deeply concerned that the link between Harwood and Lancashire Police could be one reason why they have failed to properly investigate Dylan’s death.’
Mr Harwood’s lawyer has said that his client had no direct involvement in the police car contract.
Last month an inquest into Dylan’s death was halted after a coroner referred the case back to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider prosecuting Harwood for manslaughter by gross negligence.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons Speaker and Ms Milligan’s MP, last night suggested an outside police force may be needed to carry out the new probe.
He said: ‘Following the coroner’s decision, it is now essential that a thorough inquiry is conducted, by an independent force if necessary, to ensure every avenue is explored into the events surrounding Dylan’s death and the subsequent investigation that was conducted by Lancashire Police.’
Ms Milligan has also accused Lancashire Police of a ‘cover-up’ after it refused to release to her the findings of an external report into the force’s investigation carried out by Essex Police after Harwood’s acquittal. It is understood the Lancashire force claims the report is flawed and that Essex’s investigators exceeded their terms of reference. This newspaper also requested that the report be released by the Lancashire Police last week, but was denied.
Ms Milligan, who has vowed to continue her fight for ‘justice’, said: ‘I have a right to see that report.
‘It’s about my child. I don’t understand why it hasn’t been shared with me. My only conclusion is that they have something to hide, which leads me to think the whole thing is a cover-up.’
The inquest heard that Dylan was cycling with a friend at about 11pm on October 7, 2016, when Harwood’s silver BMW struck the back of his bike at a speed of up to 42mph, hurling him almost 100ft down the road.
Harwood, a New Longton, Lancashire resident, was accused of having drunk two pints in a pub, followed by a glass wine and a kebab during the period prior to the crash. He was headed to a rendezvous with a woman that he had just met through Zoosk.
He claims that he didn’t see the bikes or the boys before, during, or after the collision and that it was because he thought he hit an animal. Dylan died the following day at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
The inquest also heard that the day after the tragedy, Harwood’s brother Neil told police that David had told him he had been ‘punching in’ the postcode of the woman’s address into his satnav system when the collision occurred.
Neil Harwood, however, told the inquest that he couldn’t recall what his brother had said to him. David Harwood said he entered the woman’s address details into the satnav before he set off driving.
David Harwood claimed that he had just finished work at 5.15pm on the afternoon of the crash before visiting the Farmers Arms pub at Whitestake. But Ms Milligan claims police failed to obtain CCTV evidence, including from cameras at his workplace, which would support – or disprove – his account. She also claims officers failed to interview potential witnesses at the pub.
Described as a talented striker with ‘mesmerising skills’, Dylan was at Manchester City’s academy for nine months from 2014 and had attracted the attention of Championship club Preston North End.
Lancashire Police said: ‘Dylan Crossey’s death was a tragedy and our thoughts remain with Dylan’s family, friends and loved ones.
‘There is still an ongoing inquest and the coroner has referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for review. ‘We are fully co-operating with both of these processes and in order to preserve their integrity this is not the right time for us to comment on the case in any detail.’
Both Neil Harwood and David Harwood declined to comment.