Two teenagers held over ‘tyre sabotage’ car crash death

The wreckage of Joanna Smith's car
The wreckage of Joanna Smith's car

Two 14-year-old boys have today been arrested in connection with the manslaughter of Joanna Smith, who died as a result of a car crash on the A45 in April this year.

The two teenagers, one from Hardingstone, the other from Grange Park, are currently being questioned by officers at the Criminal Justice Centre in Northampton.

Both have been arrested on suspicion of committing criminal damage and the manslaughter of Joanna Smith.

The arrests come three weeks after officers revealed Joanna’s death is now being investigated as manslaughter and appealed for witnesses to come forward.

It is believed Mrs Smith’s tyres were deliberately slashed near her home in Wilks Walk, Grange Park prior to her death.

Today’s arrests are part of a planned approach by detectives which is likely to see further arrests made in the near future.

Mrs Smith was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash near Earls Barton less than a year after she married John Smith, a former sports reporter at the Chronicle & Echo’s sister newspaper, the Northamptonshire Telegraph.

Mrs Smith did not realise the tyre had been sabotaged and died on her way to work on the Tuesday after the Easter weekend.

Her husband John, aged 36, said the vandals had “shattered” his life. He said: “I suppose there are apologists out there who will say that this kind of thing is just the way society is now, but it isn’t. Why would people do this?”

Mr Smith met Joanna, who worked as a pharmacy manager in Irchester, in 2005. They had only been married for nine months when the tragedy happened. He added: “Our lives have been shattered and now we are going through the process of rebuilding. It’s been hard but I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends.

Detectives said the manslaughter probe into the tragic death of Joanna Smith was the first of its kind in the UK. The East Midlands Special Operations Unit major crime team is leading the investigation. DCI Martin Kinchin said: “This is a complex investigation and as such has a large number of resources from various departments within the force working on it. We do not believe Joanna was specifically targeted but was the tragic victim of senseless vandalism.”

Following the collision, officers were informed by members of the public that another three cars, all parked close to Mrs Smith’s black Honda Jazz, also had tyres damaged on the evening before the crash.

Their suspicions were confirmed after the tyre was sent to specialists in Warrington for analysis.

Police are unsure what weapon was used on the tyres.