A driver died in a road crash after one of the tyres on her car was sabotaged.
Joanna Smith, who was 32 and came from Northampton, died when her Honda Jazz was involved in a collision on the A45 near Earls Barton in April.
Forensic investigations have shown that one of the tyres on the car had been deliberately tampered with before she began her journey.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Kinchin from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit is leading the manslaughter investigation. “While investigating the incident that led to Joanna’s death, our Collision Investigation Team established that it was likely that tyre failure caused a loss of control of the car" he said.
“The tyres from Joanna’s car were then sent to scientists who are specialists in the examination of tyres, who concluded that one of them had been deliberately punctured.”
Following the collision officers were told that a further three vehicles parked in close proximity to Joanna’s had also had tyres damaged at the same time.
Joanna’s car was parked in a communal car park near Budgens at Grange Park when it was damaged. It is believed that the tyre had only partially deflated and that she did not realise it was punctured when she started her journey to work.
DCI Kinchin added: “After being informed by the scientists that Joanna’s tyre had been deliberately damaged, coupled with the other three incidents in the area where Joanna lived, we contacted the Crown Prosecution Service for advice about how the case should proceed.
“Following their feedback we are now investigating the collision as manslaughter. We believe that someone deliberately damaged the tyre on Joanna’s car which ultimately resulted in her death.
“We do not believe Joanna was specifically targeted but was the tragic victim of senseless vandalism.”DCI Kinchin said:
“This is a complex investigation, which we believe is the first of its kind in the UK, and as such has a large number of resources from various departments within the Force working on it.
Anyone with information about the damage to Joanna’s car can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111