A police officer’s son who killed two men while drug-driving is being sued for more than £200,000 by one of their families.
Max Coopey, then 17, was at the wheel of his Met Police sergeant father’s sports car on August 2, 2018 when he drove into sales manager Jason Imi, 48, and his colleague John Shackley, 61.
The pair, who had been walking back to their hotel from a work night out with their IT firm, were thrown over the roof of the vehicle and died the moment they hit the ground.
Max Coopey (left – outside court in 2019), killed two men while driving a sports car in August 2018. His officer parents Russel (right) and Catherine Cooper were investigated for allegedly ‘turning a blind eye’ to their son’s drug habits, and were cleared with no case to answer
Mr Coopey, of Ascot, Berkshire – where he lived in his parents’ £1million home – was driving while over the limit for cannabis and had only passed his driving test two months earlier.
He had also been arrested for drug-driving just eight weeks before the crash and had five previous convictions for seven offences, including common assault when he was just 12 in December 2013, robbery when he was 13 in March 2015 and handling stolen goods when he was 14.
Although he was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, a police investigation concluded Mr Coopey was not responsible for the men’s deaths.
However, in March 2020, a coroner said she could not be sure beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Coopey was speeding or that the drugs in his system impacted his driving.
The inquest heard evidence that the teenager would have been unable to see the men until a second before impact, making the collision inevitable.
A Thames Valley Police investigation concluded Mr Coopey was not responsible for the men’s deaths and he was charged with drug driving only.
Magistrates spared Mr Coopey jail when he appeared in court and imposed costs of £105 which they said his parents could pay, but that the teenager should do chores around the house to make up for it.
However, Mr Imi’s wife Sarah has since launched a civil action against Mr Coopey for compensation over the death of her husband, who leaves behind three children.
It was understood that Mr Shackley’s family is also suing.
Court documents lodged at the London County Court by lawyers for Mrs Imi say that Mr Coopey was ‘driving under the influence of cannabis and opiates’ when he struck the two men while heading east from Ascot towards Virginia Water.
Mr Coopey was driving his two friends home following a night spent driving around and smoking cannabis when the crash happened at around 11.30pm. He had been under strict instructions from Sgt Coopey to return home by midnight.
The now 20-year-old was ‘negligent’ in that he had failed to keep a proper look out, drove at too fast a speed and drove with dipped rather than main beam headlights, the particulars of claim form states.
Having observed the pedestrians, it continued, he, ‘Failed to slow down. Failed to steer aside. Failed to sound his horn.’
Mr Coopey also ‘drove when unfit by reason of his consumption of cannabis and opiates’ on the A329 London Road in Sunninghill, Berks.
The document says: ‘The First Defendant was driving well in excess of the speed limit and at such a speed which caught the two pedestrians by surprise affording them no reasonable opportunity to save themselves. There was no negligence on their part.
‘One of them was wearing light coloured clothing. They were moving and easily seen by the First Defendant who, by reason of his cannabis and opiate consumption continued to drive at an excessive speed and took no steps to avoid colliding with the pedestrians who had nearly completed their crossing of the road.
‘As a result of the accident Jason Robert Imi was killed and his estate and dependants have suffered loss and damage.’
The claim was brought by Mrs Imi; son Ethan Imi, 19; daughter Lily Imi, 18; and younger son Noah Imi, 16.
Jason Imi (pictured with his wife Sarah), 48, was killed by Coopey while walking home with his colleague John Shackley in Ascot, Berkshire in August 2018
A defence statement was provided by Acromas Insurance Company Ltd, of London, the insurer of the Audi A5 car owned by Mr Coopey’s father, Russel.
Sgt Coopey and his wife, Met Sergeant Catherine Coopey, had been investigated by the professional standards department of their force over concerns that they were allowing or facilitating Max to use drugs, but they were found to have no case to answer following a local investigation.
Defending the claim brought against Mr Coopey, the insurers accepted that he had been convicted of drug driving in relation to the crash and that he had been sentenced to a Youth Rehabilitation Order, a safer driving course, unpaid work, a fine and a curfew.
However, they denied that he had been impaired and said he ‘drove reasonably in all the circumstances’ at ‘approximately 50 mph’, which was the speed limit on the stretch of road.
Solution specialist Mr Imi and sales manager Mr Shackley were walking together behind the rest of their colleagues from European IT services company, Computacenter.
They had been enjoying a meal at an Italian restaurant, Pazzia and while walking, the dinner party had split into groups, with Mr Shackley and Mr Imi bringing up the rear.
None of their colleagues had seen the crash, but they had heard a sound like a car hitting a deer, a dull thud on the stretch of road behind them.
The defence, submitted by Stephen Foster of Kennedys Law LLP, added: ‘Both Mr Imi and Mr Shackley had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol prior to attempting to cross the A329.
‘The point at which the pedestrians attempted to cross the road was very dark.
‘The first defendant did observe the pedestrians and promptly attempted to brake his vehicle but was nevertheless reasonably unable to avoid the collision.’
Although the A329 road was otherwise straight, before the point of the collision there was a blind verge and the insurers claimed that the road surface at that spot would only have been visible from 65 metres away.
Allegations that Mr Coopey should have used his full-beam headlights, sounded his horn or steered aside were ‘unrealistic counsels of perfection’, the insurers said.
‘In the agony of the moment the first defendant reacted reasonably by attempting to brake as pleaded above’, they added.
It is understood that the family of John Shackley (pictured), 61, is also suing Mr Coopey
After Mr Coopey was arrested at the scene, he was later tested for drugs in his blood and it was confirmed that he had delta cannabinoids in his system at 3.3 micrograms per litre of blood.
He also said he had codeine in his system due to a cough mixture he had been taking.
The insurers denied that Mr Coopey’s consumption of cannabis had ‘any causative relevance’ to the collision.
They also wrote that the policy did not provide cover in respect of the use of the vehicle by Mr Coopey and the only persons insured under the policy to use the vehicle were Russel Coopey and Catherine Coopey, Max’s mother, who was also a Metropolian Police officer.
Before driving on the night of the double fatal collision, Mr Coopey had taken out a one-week deal with Veygo car sharing insurance, which provides cover for drivers who need access to a car but don’t own one.
Veygo, which is a brand by Admiral, launched an investigation after the crash.
A spokesman for Admiral, on behalf of Veygo, said: ‘During the course of the investigation we discovered that Mr Coopey obtained the insurance policy with Veygo by failing to disclose that he had been involved in two previous road traffic accidents before taking out the policy.
‘We do not offer cover to anyone under the age of 21 who discloses either a claim or a driving conviction.
‘We found no record of his undisclosed convictions because they were too recent.
‘We are satisfied that we did everything within reason to check Mr Coopey’s background, and are certain that we would have rejected his application for insurance if he had been honest and his driving history had been revealed at the time.’
Solicitors were instructed to have Mr Coopey’s Veygo insurance retrospectively voided and the policy taken out with Veygo was voided from the inception date by order of Cardiff County Court in December 2018.
However, Acromas Insurance Company Ltd said they had a potential financial interest in the claim brought by Mrs Imi and had ‘accordingly been joined to it’.
If Mrs Imi won her case they and obtained a judgement they ‘would be required to satisfy that judgement’ under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
The insurers said it ‘reserves its right’ to recover any sum it may be required to pay to Mrs Imi from Mr Coopey and his father.
TVP have confirmed they are providing assistance to the parties’ legal teams in this case.
Mr Coopey had been jailed for 12 weeks in October 2019 after he was convicted of illegally driving while banned, but his conviction was quashed on appeal and he walked free after just one week.
Mr Coopey’s father declined to comment.
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