Lies, betrayal and a young life taken too soon: the story of the car crash which turned out to be one of Britain's most sinister crime mysteries

Blue flashing lights appear and he stumbles towards the police officer before saying: "Please can I have a hug?"

At first it looks like another tragic accident on Britain's roads – one passenger is dead, one has horrific injuries – and Danny, the driver, has escaped the wreck.

But as more police arrive it becomes clear that all isn’t as it seems.

In fact, the January 2016 crash may be one of the most heartbreaking and dramatic mysteries of modern times – and now a new BBC 3 documentary, Car Crash: Who’s Lying?, has revealed the truth lurking among the wreckage – but can you work out who was in the driver's seat?

After police pursued an extensive investigation and untangled a web of lies, we finally know what really happened in the accident that turned three young lives upside down and ended one altogether.

The suspected killer who asked police for a hug

At first, all that could be fathomed was that the car was travelling at 110 miles per hour when it span out of control, skidded off the wet road and slammed into some nearby trees.

After the car hurtled from the road, the immediate aftermath was filled with confusion.

On the documentary, never-before-seen bodycam footage shows a distressed young man clamber from the car and say: “Please, you gotta make sure my friends are alright.

"I can’t remember, ‘was I driving?’ You’re going to arrest me,” before asking the officer, “Can I have a hug. Please?”

The shell-shocked man is Danny, a 25-year-old Portsmouth resident whose questionable actions will spark one of the darkest mysteries in his city's history.

“For me as a senior investigating officer that evening. I’d never envisaged that this incident would unfold in such an unusual way,” says Sgt Shaun Hopkins of Hampshire police.

“As I approached the car you could see it had overturned and there was a young man sitting across it. He was clearly shaken and said there were other people in the vehicle.

"He identified himself as the driver – he said it was his car.

"I asked him what his name was and he said Danny. "

But when Sgt Hopkins asked him how many people were in the car, Danny struggled to remember if it was two or three.

But it soon emerged that 19-year-old Luke Fletcher, a well-loved performing arts student had died in the back passenger seat.

Another passenger, Sonny Wedge, 19, sustained a brain trauma as the car flew off the road… but survived.

'I was trying to be a good cousin'

In the early hours of the morning, news of Luke's death reached his mother, Sarah Hiscutt.

“I was in shock,” she says. “And to hear it was Danny [responsible]… Luke trusted Danny like I did. He was welcomed in as part of the family."

Today, Sarah tells Sun Online that she still struggles to come to terms with her son's death.

“I find it harder everyday. It’s 34-months-ago, but it doesn’t get better – every day is just another day without Luke.

Police initially believed that Danny was responsible for the crash.

But then, having been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, he suddenly made a claim that shifted the course of the investigation.

Danny claimed that it was actually his 22-year-old cousin, Zax Ross-Harris, who was behind the wheel – even though he was not found at the scene of the crash.

“Zax had asked for a driving lesson because he paid for petrol,” Danny tells police.

“We stopped the car and switched seats and I was like, ‘I’ll teach you.’ I was trying to be a good cousin teaching my little cousin how to drive.”

The secret runaway driver

Inspector Darren Ord, from Hampshire Police, says nobody knew at the time why Danny suddenly changed his story.

“He goes from saying he is the cause of the crash to saying it was his cousin Zax who was driving at the time," Inspector Ord says.

"If Danny’s account was true, Zax had run away from the scene and left his cousin and friends in the car.”

Inspector Ord says he assumed Danny was lying, but police follow his lead.

Before long, a toxicology report comes back to prove Danny had not taken any drugs or alcohol that night.

“Zax was in bed had no injuries,” says Sgt Hopkins, who arrived at Zax’s family home at 3am – four hours after the crash.

“He says he was away all day and spent the evening in the pub with this dad. Zax was the polar opposite to Danny – he wasn’t upset, he wasn’t emotional.

"The fact he was so chilled shows he either doesn’t care or knows he has nothing to worry about.”

But soon new evidence starts to poke holes in Zax’s alibi.

“There was a lot of Zax’s story that was fitting the evidence we were corroborating – it was just the timing wasn’t quite right,” says Inspector Ord.

“We seized their mobile phones and saw texts where Danny asked Zax if he fancied putting a tenner in the car and coming out for a drive. It’s clear from the evidence that Zax had agreed to go out for a drive.

“We look at CCTV, but what the CCTV doesn’t show is that Zax was in the car…. The one person that could tell us without a doubt what happened in the car was Sonny.”

So as soon as the injured youngster comes out of his coma, he’s questioned by investigators.

Sonny tells officers that Zax was in the car, and that as he picked up speed after switching into the driver's seat.

“I thought Zax was on something," he says. "Luke’s seat belt wasn’t working he was just holding it in place. Zax was acting like a complete idiot. Me, Luke and Danny told him to slow down.”

However, while this would be seen as a winning corroboration for Danny, officers had to wonder how reliable this testimony was. “Sonny and Danny are close. They’ve been family friends. Could he be protecting Danny?” asked Ord.

Having exhausted witnesses and CCTV, investigators' last hope would be forensics.

Damning blood on the seats which reveals the truth

During a car crash, friction from the body slamming against the seat belt at high speed can create enough heat to melt clothing.

This means that any residue material on the seats can be tested to reveal who was driving the car at the point of the accident, and who was sat elsewhere.

In this case, the forensic evidence shows that it was Zax who was behind the wheel when the car crashed.

“Were you in a car last night with Danny, Sonny and Luke?” Sgt Hopkins once again asks Zax, this time at Portsmouth police station.

“No,” he answers. “I’m saying this crash has f*** all to do with me…”

Bu suddenly, his bravado disappears.

“I’m not answering any more. I feel sick,” he says, as he’s presented with D&A evidence that his blood, clothing fibres and hair strands were found on the car’s seat belt and air bag.

“The interview went exactly to plan – he couldn’t explain anything away,” says Hopkins. “He proved that everything he said was a pack of lies.”

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Zax had drunk seven pints in the pub with his father in the afternoon before the crash at 11.17pm.

He admitted death by dangerous driving and was jailed for eight years while Danny was jailed for six years for aiding and abetting death by dangerous driving.

Luke's mum Sarah believes the time given was a slap on the wrist.

She tells Sun Online: “They’ll be out in three years. Life in prison is what they deserve because they still have their lives – Luke does not.
“I’ll never forget how Zax and Danny laughed and giggled during the trial. They have no remorse. I’ll never forgive them.”
Car Crash: Who's Lying? is available on BBC iPlayer.

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