Commissioner who dismissed claims of Cardiff police chase before riot now admits ‘possibility’

Two boys were killed in a crash while riding an electric bike in Ely on Monday evening, sparking a riot

Tara Cobham
Wednesday 24 May 2023 11:51 BST
After dismissing rumours two teenage boys killed in the crash that led to the Cardiff riots were being chased by police, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales has now admitted it is a “possibility”

After dismissing rumours two teenage boys killed in the crash that led to the Cardiff riots were being chased by police, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales has now admitted it is a “possibility”.

Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and 15-year-old Harvey Evans were killed in a collision while riding an electric bike in Ely on Monday evening, sparking a night of violence with cars torched and clashes with riot police.

PCC Alun Michael suggested on Tuesday morning that rumours of a police chase prior to the crash had become “rife” shortly before locals clashed with officers - 15 of whom were injured, according to the force - but said this version of events “wasn’t the case”.

CCTV footage emerged appearing to show a police van driving behind an electric bike on Frank Road in Ely, some 900m from the scene at 5.59pm, minutes before the crash
CCTV footage emerged appearing to show a police van driving behind an electric bike on Frank Road in Ely, some 900m from the scene at 5.59pm, minutes before the crash (Wales News)

However, CCTV footage emerged later in the day appearing to show a police van driving behind an electric bike on Frank Road in Ely, some 900m from the scene at 5.59pm, minutes before the crash.

Appearing on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Wednesday morning, Mr Michael said: “The impression that was given was that of youngsters being chased by the police and an accident happened, an immediate one to the other.”

PCC Alun Michael suggested on Tuesday morning that rumours of a police chase prior to the crash had become “rife” shortly before locals clashed with officers
PCC Alun Michael suggested on Tuesday morning that rumours of a police chase prior to the crash had become “rife” shortly before locals clashed with officers (PA Wire/Press Association Images)

“That I am still assured is not what happened, but information emerged of the vehicle and the youngsters in the same street, a different street, shortly before the event, that of course then comes into something that should be investigated,” he said.

When broadcaster Martha Kearney suggested that this leaves open the possibility of a police chase, he replied: “It leaves open the possibility.

“I was assured there was not … police chasing the individuals at the time the accident happened. That there may have been something earlier is of course something that should be fully investigated.”

Kyrees Sullivan (right), 16, and 15-year-old Harvey Evans were killed in a collision while riding an electric bike in Ely on Monday evening
Kyrees Sullivan (right), 16, and 15-year-old Harvey Evans were killed in a collision while riding an electric bike in Ely on Monday evening (Sourced)

But the PCC had told the same programme the day before: “It would appear that there were rumours, and those rumours became rife, of a police chase, which wasn’t the case and I think it illustrates the speed with which rumours can run around with the activity that goes on social media nowadays, and that events can get out of hand.”

Mr Michael suggested information that needs investigating had emerged since the interview on Tuesday morning. He said: “The question has to be asked of whether there is a connection between earlier events and the road traffic accident itself.”

He said he was “assured” that Kyrees and Harvey “were not being chased by the police at the time of the road traffic accident”.

A line of police officers with riot shields were blocking one end of the street during the riot, as a helicopter could be heard hovering overhead
A line of police officers with riot shields were blocking one end of the street during the riot, as a helicopter could be heard hovering overhead (PA Wire)

When Ms Kearney pressed him, he said he had received this assurance from the police themselves and added the collision is “being carefully investigated”.

Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts said the PCC “has serious questions to answer”.

She wrote on Twitter: “The role of PCCs is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. Alun Michael this morning spoke rather as a spokesperson and defender for South Wales Police. He has serious questions to answer.”

South Wales Police said it would review the CCTV footage but that there were no police vehicles on the road of the crash when it took place.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, has announced it will send investigators to assess whether or not it will carry out an independent probe into the crash.

In a press conference on Tuesday evening, South Wales Police said the footage would help the force to piece together events prior to the collision.

As the unrest unfolded, Kyrees’s mother Belinda took to social media to describe her heartbreak at being unable to reach her son’s body for hours due to the ongoing violence.

Scenes livestreamed on YouTube showed young people throwing fireworks and cars being set alight
Scenes livestreamed on YouTube showed young people throwing fireworks and cars being set alight (Getty Images)

She wrote on Facebook shortly after midnight on Tuesday: “My son is still laying on the floor due to this riot I’m sat at home heartbroken there are 2 familys [sic] broken right now.

“I just want to see my son and I can’t because of this riot that have happened pls I beg you all to stop and let my son be moved to hospital so I can see him we need to see our sons.”

Scenes livestreamed on YouTube showed young people throwing fireworks and other missiles at a line of police officers with riot shields who were blocking one end of the street, as a helicopter could be heard hovering overhead.

Police, including mounted officers on horseback, were seen outside Ely police station in the early hours of Tuesday after suggestions it could be targeted, and shortly before 3am rioters moved down Highmead Road, followed by police who were trying to disperse them.

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