News 13 January 2015

Driver dies after high speed car chase on Old Kent Road

13 January 2015

A motorist fleeing gunmen on a moped burned to death at the wheel when his car exploded in a fireball after a high-speed chase through London.

The man, in his thirties, died when the vehicle smashed into a bus stop and burst into flames in Old Kent Road. Part of the black Audi RS4’s engine block was thrown several metres down the carriageway by the force of the explosion, at 2.30am yesterday.

Witnesses reported shots being fired at the vehicle in the moments leading up to the crash, with some describing it as being like a “war zone” and “something from Hollywood”.

It has not been a good start to the year in the capital so far as 2015 has started off with 10 homicides and the murders of three teenagers.

A Met spokesman said forensic officers were trying to establish if holes in the vehicle, which had been speeding at up to 100mph, were caused by bullets.

Witnesses close to the scene said a passer-by tried to pull the victim from the burning car but was beaten back by 12ft flames before it exploded. They claimed the driver appeared to be trying to escape three men on mopeds, who reportedly fired at least three shots.

Residents, woken by the explosion, called 999 and firefighters quickly extinguished the flames, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Carol Turner, 58, said: “I heard this huge bang, it was so loud, and I could smell the smoke from inside. I went outside and I saw the flames. The car was burning and exploding when the tyres were bursting. It was eerie and scary.”

“I heard there were people on motorbikes shooting at the car. It must have been going at some speed to have done that much damage. The driver wouldn’t have had a chance.”

Sarah Wilkins, 42, said: “I was woken by screaming and there was an explosion then you just couldn’t see the car at all. It was engulfed by flames. It was like a war zone. Nobody would have been able to survive that.”

A woman who asked not to be named said: “When I heard the bang, my first thought was that it was a bomb.

“There was a strong smell of burning inside my flat and I opened our front door to white clouds of smoke billowing out. Outside it looked like something from a Hollywood film.”

Simon Hughes, local MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said: “The thoughts of people across Southwark are with the person who died on the Old Kent Road.”

“Reports of a high speed chase, a vehicle on fire, shooting and a death on the Old Kent Road are clearly horrific. We must wait for the police to get to the truth of what happened. In London we have been winning the battle against serious crime. We must not allow events now to go in the opposite direction.”

Old Kent Road was closed between Burgess Park and Rotherhithe New Road in south Bermondsey.

Detective Inspector Dave Reid, who is leading the inquiry,  said: “At this stage our forensic team are working to establish the cause of the holes that were found in the car that had crashed.  One line of enquiry, which we are unable to confirm until those tests are complete, is that the holes were caused by shots being fired at the car.

“I would appeal for anyone who saw a Black Audi RS4 car being driven early that morning around that area or along the Old Kent Road to contact us.”

So far no arrest have been made.