Killer driver is FINALLY unmasked: Police officers’ son, 18, who was spared jail despite ploughing into and killing two pedestrians in his parents’ Audi while high on cannabis is pictured for first time
- Max Coopey, 18, smoked cannabis last August then drove his parents’ Audi into John Shackley, 61, and Jason Imi, 48, killing them both
- Police officers’ son Coopey pleaded guilty to drug-driving but was not jailed
- Thames Valley Police did not prosecute for causing death by dangerous driving, saying their investigation found no signs of impaired driving
- It was Coopey’s sixth criminal conviction since the age of 12, mainly for drugs
These are the first pictures of the police officers’ son who hit and killed two pedestrians while driving his parents’ Audi having smoked cannabis but avoided jail.
Max Coopey, 18, hit and killed father-of-three Jason Imi, 48, and his colleague John Shackley, 61, as they were walking back from dinner in Reading last August.
Coopey, who had already racked up five convictions for seven offences between the ages of 12 and 17, was ordered to carry out 100 hours’ community service in January after pleading guilty to drug-driving.
Thames Valley Police, who according to the Crown Prosecution Service did not consult the CPS over the case, did not prosecute Coopey for causing death by dangerous or careless driving.
Magistrates at his trial barred the press from identifying Coopey until he turned 18, despite a CPS lawyer arguing it was in the public interest to do so.
Max Coopey admitted drug-driving but was not prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving
Jason Imi with his wife of 18 years, Sarah. She told the court their future together had been stolen from them
2013 to 2018: Police officers’ son Max Coopey, between the ages of 12 and 17, racks up five convictions for seven offences, predominantly for drugs.
June 2018: One of those offences took place just eight weeks before the killings, when police pulled the 17-year-old over for bad driving and found he smelled of cannabis. He had 5.7mcgs in his bloodstream.
August 2, 2018: While awaiting a court appearance over that matter, Max Coopey smokes cannabis with friends, then gets behind the wheel of his parents’ powerful Audi A5 to take his friends for a drive.
11.27pm: Police receive first report of the crash in which the car driven by Coopey hit and killed John Shackley, 61, and Jason Imi, 48, as they cross the road after a meal out with colleagues.
11.34pm: Coopey is arrested at the scene, on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
August 3, 00.02am: He passes a breathalyser but fails a drug wipe for cannabis.
TIME UNKNOWN: Coopey’s blood is taken by police, find it contains 3.3mcg of cannabis per 100ml, over the drug-drive limit.
November 2018: Coopey is convicted in court of the June drug-driving offence.
January 30, 2019: Max Coopey pleads guilty to drug-driving over the August crash which killed Mr Imi and Mr Shackley. He retains his anonymity despite the CPS joining the press in requesting he be identified. He walks free from court with 100 hours of community service.
May 25, 2019: Max Coopey turns 18 and is named by this newspaper.
July 8, 2019: An inquest into the deaths will open at Reading Coroner’s Court.
In June 2018 Coopey was pulled over by police for bad driving and found to have 5.7 microgrammes of cannabis in his blood.
On August 2, while awaiting a court appearance for that offence, Coopey smoked cannabis with friends and then took them for a drive in his parents’ powerful Audi A5 in Sunninghill, near the £1million family home in Ascot, Berkshire.
Some time after dark he hit and killed father of three Jason Imi, 48, and John Shackley, 61, as they crossed the A329 London Road, after a meal out with colleagues.
He was arrested later the same day on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Police found 3.3mcg of cannabis in his bloodstream.
In a statement read to Reading Youth Magistrates Court in January, a friend who was in the back seat said Coopey braked but did not adjust course upon seeing the men in the road.
In a witness statement read by the prosecutor he said: ‘About six to ten minutes through our journey, he was driving fine and then he said something about how there were people on the road.’
Prosecutor Sobia Ali explained ‘about two seconds’ passed between Coopey speaking and the ‘bang’ of the impact.
The statement continued: ‘He already knew there was someone in the road, he was already braking before anyone said anything.
‘Other than applying the brakes he didn’t do anything, no steering or anything.
‘A window smashed and I knew we were hitting a person.
‘I could see two bodies on the floor curled up, they were behind the car to the left.
‘I went home on foot, I ran, I ran because I was scared, probably scared of my mum finding out to be honest.’
Coopey, who passed his test only two months before the fatal collision, told the court: ‘I had smoked four or five hours prior to that. Now I would never go near a car.
‘I genuinely thought I wasn’t impaired. I had no idea I was over the limit, otherwise I wouldn’t have driven a car at that time.’
He said: ‘I had tears in my eyes when I was listening to the families’ statements. I can’t describe in words how I feel about it.
‘It is the most unfortunate thing. It really has affected my mental well-being.’
His mother, who until last year was a Met Police schools liaison PC, told the court how sorry she was for the families affected, adding: ‘I think he really needs to learn a lesson that this can’t go on. But I think he has.’
She said he had been ‘nicer at home’ and that saw no evidence of him taking drugs ‘at the moment’ describing the two deaths as ‘a real wake-up call’.
She said the family had hidden the keys to their Audi and there was ‘no way’ he could now get behind the wheel of the family car.
John Shackley, 61, was returning to a hotel in Ascot from a dinner with colleagues when he was hit by the car driven by Max Coopey
Mr Imi, from Twickenham in London, and Mr Shackley, from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, worked together at a computing firm and were returning to a hotel in the town after a works dinner.
The widows of the two men who died gave written statements to January’s trial.
Sarah Imi was Jason Imi’s partner of almost 22 years and they were days away from their 18th wedding anniversary. The couple had three children together.
Mrs Imi said: ‘We had so many plans for our future together and I feel that has been stolen from us.
Why being caught driving on drugs doesn’t necessarily mean you were high
In 2015 new regulations aimed at stopping people driving while on drugs came into force in England and Wales.
Drivers now face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the presence of eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight prescription drugs.
Police are able to use ‘drugalyser’ devices at the roadside.
Drug-drive limits for legal drugs like morphine and diazepam are set at levels likely to cause impairment, and users must be prepared to justify the drug’s presence in their system.
But limits for illegal drugs are set at ‘zero-tolerance’ levels, mainly about as low as police equipment can detect.
But just because there are trace amounts of a drug in your system – possibly from using drugs many hours before driving – doesn’t mean the drug is impairing your driving.
Nonetheless, you will be prosecuted for ‘driving a motor vehicle with a proportion of a controlled drug above the specified limit’ as part of efforts to clamp down on drug-driving.
‘Why was he driving a car that powerful? It seems like no lessons have been learned.’
Mrs Imi’s lawyer Soyab Patel told MailOnline the Imi family were outraged by the sentence and believed the coming inquest will reveal further details of the bizarre and tragic case.
He revealed that Coopey was put on an unusual seven-day insurance policy for his parents’ powerful car and said both the parents and the insurers had ‘questions to answer’.
He added: ‘If you ask any member of the public, “a guy is driving down the road, he’s killed two people, and he was over the limit on cannabis, and he got 100 hours of community service”, you just get the answer “what? are you kidding me?”.’
In court in January, a statement from Mrs Shackley read: ‘I previously worked in a school setting. I know that some kids need extra discipline.
‘To assist them to choose the right life path is something that parents need to do to get them to avoid getting into dangerous situations.
‘He was able to drive a powerful car and perhaps the family should have been more alert to the warning signs.
‘My husband was killed after a meal out with colleagues. He said he would be back around 11 o’clock.
‘He was killed instantly only 5-10 minutes walk from the restaurant.
‘Our only hope is that they felt no pain or fear – that is our only consolation’.
Coopey was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
He was found to have 3.3microgrammes of cannabis in his blood, more than twice the legal limit of 2 microgrammes which is set close to the lowest amount police can detect.
However after an investigation Thames Valley Police concluded Coopey’s driving was not careless, dangerous, or impaired by drugs.
He was charged only in relation to driving with drugs in his system – not in relation to the deaths.
Asked about the charge, the Crown Prosecution Service told MailOnline that Thames Valley had ‘not consulted’ with them over the case.
But a police spokesman said: Thames Valley Police liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service regarding this case, after a full and thorough investigation it was concluded that the evidence gathered did not meet the threshold to charge the driver with a standard of driving offence.’
Although counter-intuitive, having drugs in your system does not necessarily mean your driving is impaired by drugs.
The drug-drive limits for illegal drugs are as close to zero as is practicable – unlike the limits for some medicinal drugs, driving under the influence of which is also regulated.
Michael Devlin, a specialist criminal solicitor at Switalskis, explained: ‘They introduced levels which are zero tolerance.
‘That doesn’t necessarily mean your driving was impaired, it just means it’s in your blood.
‘They don’t have the science to say your driving was impaired so it doesn’t necessarily mean you were driving carelessly or dangerously.’
Max Coopey hit and killed two pedestrians while driving his parents’ Audi having smoked cannabis
Professor David Taylor, professor of psychopharmacology at Kings College, London and a member of the Department of Transport’s advisory panel on drug driving, said evidence had shown a drug-driver’s risk of being involved in an accident was ‘proportional to the concentration of the drug’ found in their system.
He said the level of cannabis found in Coopey’s system ‘doesn’t necessarily mean he was stoned’.
But, he added: ‘I’m not sure it would be the same with alcohol – usually you’d get the book thrown at you.’
At the trial defence barrister David Todd told the magistrates: ‘If the Crown could show evidence of unacceptable driving, we’d know about it, because the charge would be causing death by dangerous or by careless.’
He said that as unpalatable as it might seem, an investigation had shown blame for the crash could not be laid at the feet of the defendant.
He said there was no evidence he had driven in a dangerous fashion, even though he was over the drug drive limit, adding: ‘Since the date of the incident there has been a lengthy police investigation involving specially trained officers and accident reconstruction.
An inquest into the deaths will take place later this year. Pictured: Max Coopey, 18
‘The charge being simply drug driving, there is no factor that increases the seriousness of the matter.’
Sentencing, presiding magistrate Penny Wood she and her colleagues’ ‘initial thinking’ was to jail Coopey, saying: ‘It can’t be right to drive your car and knock down two people, innocent pedestrians and kill them.’
However, she added: ‘There are no charges in relation to the standard of your driving on that day. But we can begin by saying so it can be heard by anyone in the court, that we take this extremely seriously.’
The magistrates put Coopey on a new youth rehabilitation order including supervision for 24 months, a 20-day ‘thinking skills programme’, a safe driving course, 100 hours of unpaid work, and a six month curfew.
The teenager was also disqualified from driving for 24 months and charged £105 in costs, which his parents said they would pay.
The magistrates suggested he could pay them back by doing odd jobs about the house.
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