UK & World News

  • 5 December 2013, 0:04

Essex Car Fire: Mother's Role Investigated

Detectives believe a mother may have killed her 16-year-old son and taken her own life by starting a fire inside their car.

Police and firefighters were called to reports of a vehicle on fire in Thorpe Esplanade, a residential street on the seafront at Thorpe Bay, Essex, shortly before 5.30pm on Tuesday.

Once the flames had been put out, the bodies of two people were found in the car, understood to be a black Vauxhall Vectra.

Essex Police believe the bodies are those of Catherine Mhlaba, 45, of Blyth Avenue, Shoebury, and her 16-year-old son Beki Ali.

Formal identification is likely to take some weeks.

A police spokesman said: "These tragic deaths are being investigated by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

"Their investigation is currently looking at the possibility that Catherine Mhlaba was responsible for killing her son and taking her own life by starting the fire inside the car."

Some residents reported hearing explosions and members of the public are thought to have gathered in the street as the fire took hold.

Detectives want to hear from witnesses, particularly a dog walker who may have been in the area close to the time.

"Police are aware some people may have taken moving footage or images on mobile devices at the time and would ask for these to be made available to detectives," the spokesman added.

Detectives can be contacted at Southend on 101.