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Horror crash victims were all travelling in same stolen car, say police

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Griffiths described the “catastrophic” scene he witnessed after the collision.

Three children and two men who died in a horror crash in a suburban street were all travelling in the same stolen car when it hit a tree, according to the police officer leading the investigation.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Griffiths described the “catastrophic” scene he witnessed after the collision on Stonegate Road, in the Meanwood area of Leeds on Saturday night.

Brothers Ellis and Elliott Thornton, aged 12 and 14, died in the collision along with 15-year-old Darnell Harte, Anthoney Armour, 24, and Robbie Meerun, also 24.

Speaking at the scene on Monday, Mr Griffiths said all five were in the black Renault Clio, registration number FL06 MWU, when it crashed.

It is understood a total of six people were in the car at the time. The sixth person, a 15-year-old boy, was arrested and remains in police custody.

It is believed he is hospital in a serious, but not life-threatening, condition.

A second 15-year-old, who is understood not to have been in the car, was arrested in the area but later released under investigation.

(PA Graphics)

Mr Griffiths said: “When I arrived here in the early hours of Sunday morning this was a catastrophic scene.

“All the witnesses, all the police officers, all the emergency services that were here would have seen, absolutely, a scene of total carnage. It would have been a horrendous situation for anyone.”

Superintendent Matt Davison and Detective Chief Inspector Jim Griffiths at the scene of the crash in Leeds (Peter Byrne/PA)

People living nearby have described a terrible scene of bodies lying in the road and a car reduced to a mangled wreck, barely recognisable as a vehicle.

Mr Griffiths said: “The car was in a terrible state when I arrived. It’s difficult to describe it, really. It was a vehicle that had obviously been involved in a very serious crash, with very tragic consequences.”

The detective said the car had been stolen in the Headingley area of Leeds at about 6.30pm on Saturday.

He said it was “believed to have been driven around the Leeds area during that time”.

A woman, thought to be the mother of one of the victims, looks at floral tributes close to the scene of a car crash in Stonegate Road (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Griffiths appealed for anyone who saw it between that time and the crash, just before 10pm, to contact him.

He said: “We are continuing to carry out inquiries to establish the full circumstances of the collision itself and the circumstances surrounding it.

“At this stage we believe that all those involved were travelling in the Clio at the time of the collision and that it was the only vehicle involved.

“We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who has seen the Clio and the manner of its driving in the time leading up to the collision.”

Superintendent Matt Davison, who heads neighbourhood policing for the Leeds District, said: “This is a very tragic set of circumstances and our thoughts and condolences go out to everyone who has been affected by it.”

He said: “Clearly the families have suffered a devastating loss and we appreciate that emotions will be running high in the community.

“We would ask that people focus on supporting each other and on supporting the police investigation, which will ensure that the circumstances of this incident are fully explored and that the criminal justice process is satisfied.”

Relatives of the brothers were among a succession of people who went to look at the growing shrine of flowers, balloons, candles and messages at the scene in Stonegate Road.

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