A teenage boy who died after a crash during a police chase was driving a stolen car, an inquest jury heard.
Leo Gradwell "lost control" of a Fiat 500 and crashed into a Kia Sportage and Renault Clio. At the time of the crash, the 14-year-old was being chased by police, as officers suspected the car he was driving was stolen in Wigan the previous night.
The court heard the blue Fiat 500 had been taken by two masked men, with one allegedly carrying an axe. However Leo was not alleged to be one of the assailants.
READ MORE: Expert diver looking for missing Nicola Bulley says case is 'most baffling' in 25 years
Police said the day after the robbery, they received a number of reported sightings throughout the morning and early afternoon on October 11, 2019, which lead them to spotting Leo in the car on Warrington Road. They began a pursuit at around 1.25pm and CCTV footage showed the chase and the moment the Fiat flipped onto its side.
The MEN reports, Leo went into cardiac arrest at the scene and was initially rushed to Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, before being taken to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital - where he was later pronounced dead. Home Office Pathologist Dr Philip Lumb carried out a post mortem on Leo’s body and recorded ‘head injury’ as the cause of his death.
Dr Lumb told the inquest that Leo had suffered a "complex and extensive fracture at the base of the skull." He added that he was unable to conclude whether or not Leo was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident.
Leo’s family were legally represented by barrister Mass Ndow-Njie and through him, they expressed "concerns" about the manner in which Leo was "extracted" from the car. Dr Lumb responded that he was not an "expert on extractions" but said that in his view, the injuries were unsurvivable.
Dr Lumb said: "He had a very serious head injury and I don’t think he would have survived, whatever had happened." Leo's mum Kirsty Gradwell cried as Mr Brennand read out a pen portrait she had written.
In the statement, she described Leo as a "caring", "playful", and "loving" child, who had never been arrested. However, Ms Gradwell admitted that as Leo got older, "something changed" and his behaviour got worse, which led him to being excluded from Byrchall High School and moving to Special Educational Needs school Newbridge Learning Community.
Ms Gradwell said: "To watch Leo die before my eyes was the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with... I put my hand on his chest and felt his heart stop beating. I felt devastated."
Mr Brennand adjourned the inquest until Wednesday, February 8. Representatives from the emergency services and both hospitals are scheduled to give evidence in the coming days.
READ NEXT: 73 faces and codenames of dozens of EncroChat criminals linked to Merseyside
Lakeland's 1p per night item means there's 'no need to use central heating'
Nicola Bulley friend shares '11 facts you may not know' about missing mum case
Gang's £1m plot to smuggle cannabis and cash into Isle of Man using pushchairs and cars
Shop caught selling cigarettes to children and lighting them on CCTV