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Seven police officers under investigation following fatal A48 crash

29 Feb 2024 4 minute read
A group of people lay floral tributes left near the crash scene in the St Mellons area of Cardiff. Photo Ben Birchall PA Images

A total of seven police officers are under investigation by a watchdog in relation to a crash that claimed the lives of three people.

Eve Smith and Darcy Ross, both 21, and Rafel Jeanne, 24, were found dead at the scene of the incident on the A48 in the St Mellons area of Cardiff, South Wales, in March last year – almost 48 hours after they were all last seen.

Passengers Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, who were seriously injured, were also found with the Volkswagen Tiguan they had been travelling in.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the seven officers, who all serve with Gwent Police, have been served notices informing them they are under investigation.

They are:

– two officers concerning their review of missing person reports. One officer for potential misconduct and another, who was previously served at the level of misconduct, now for possible gross misconduct.

– one officer for potential gross misconduct concerning their face-to-face communication with family members at a police station and how they dealt with the information received.

– two officers at the level of gross misconduct concerning whether or not they carried out searches of the homes of two of the people reported missing. One of these officers is also under criminal investigation for allegedly falsifying their witness statement.

– two officers at the level of misconduct concerning alleged remarks made at the collision scene.

The serving of these notices does not necessarily mean disciplinary or criminal proceedings will follow, the watchdog said.

Floral tributes left near the scene in the St Mellons area of Cardiff where three people who disappeared on a night out have died in a road traffic accident. Photo Bronwen Weatherby PA Images

IOPC director David Ford said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the families and friends of the young people who tragically lost their lives, those who were left seriously injured, and everyone affected by this incident.

“Since the start of our investigation, we have expanded our work to investigate a number of detailed complaints from the families affected.

“As a result, seven Gwent Police officers have been advised that they are under investigation.

“We continue to analyse a significant volume of evidence and assess whether police actions following the missing person reports were in accordance with local and national policies and procedures.

“At the end of our investigation, we will make decisions as to whether any officer should face disciplinary proceedings and whether any matters should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“While we have carried out additional work to address the concerns raised, we will conclude our investigation as soon as possible.

“It is important for all concerned that our independent investigation is comprehensive and thorough.”

The group were discovered just after midnight on Monday March 6, 46 hours after the last contact from them.

The families of Ms Smith, Ms Ross and Ms Russon had all reported them missing on the evening of Saturday March 4.

Two people who were driving the Volkswagen Tiguan during the evening prior to the crash have since been convicted of motoring offences.

Shane Loughlin was jailed for dangerous driving and driving the vehicle while disqualified. He was a passenger in the car when it crashed.

Previously, Joel Lia was fined for driving the Volkswagen Tiguan without a licence or insurance an hour before the crash. He had left the vehicle shortly before the fatal collision.

An initial inquest hearing into the deaths of Mr Jeanne, Ms Ross and Ms Smith heard they were declared dead at the scene of the crash.

The inquest was adjourned to await the findings of further histology and toxicology tests.

Gwent Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hobrough said: “Our thoughts and condolences continue to be with the family and friends of Darcy, Eve and Rafel who tragically lost their lives and those who sustained injuries that night.

“We acknowledge the impact that this has had on them and understand how important the findings of this investigation will be to all those affected and the wider community.

“We have been and continue to fully support the investigation which is being carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

“It’s important that these matters are investigated thoroughly in an open and transparent manner.”

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Richard Davies
Richard Davies
4 months ago

I have zero confidence in the iopc as it is extremely rare for their investigations to lead to disciplinary action, nevermind criminal proceedings.

The police have powers granted to them by law, so should be held to a higher account!

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