CRASH HEARTBREAK Group of pals in Cardiff car crash that saw three tragically die had been drinking and inhaling laughing gas, court told

A GROUP of pals in a car crash that tragically left three dead had been drinking and inhaling laughing gas before the horror, a court heard.

Rafel Jeanne, who was driving at the time, was killed alongside Darcy Ross and Eve Smith, both 21.]

Rafel Jeanne, 24, was driving the car at time of the horror

Eve Smith, 21, was one of three who died in the horror smash in Cardiff in March

Darcy Ross, 21, was also killed in the crash

Rafel Jeanne, 24, was driving the car at time of the horror

Passengers Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, were injured during the crash in St Mellons, Cardiff, in March but survived.

The five friends were discovered around 46 hours after the Volkswagen Tiguan they were travelling in left the road and smashed into trees on a roundabout.

Court papers have now revealed the group had been drinking alcohol and inhaling nitrous oxide before the tragedy.

They had been on a night out at The Muffler social club in Maesglas, Newport, before making their way to the Trecco Bay Caravan Park in Porthcawl around 40 miles away.

After leaving the site, the friends were last seen at about 2am in the Pentwyn area of Cardiff, dropping off a sixth member of their group.

The details emerged from a closed-doors court hearing held for Joel Lia, who had been driving the Volkswagen Tiguan an hour before the crash.

He has been charged with driving without a licence or insurance in Porthcawl but the case is being dealt with by magistrates under a single justice procedure.

This means a magistrate will decide the case without it going to open court as the charge is seen as a minor criminal offence.

Detective Constable Joanne Mahony said Lia, 28, admitted driving the car on the M4 around an hour before he was dropped off - even though he didn't have insurance.

The officer took a signed statement from him where he admitted driving without holding a full UK licence.

The court papers state: "All other persons in the vehicle were intoxicated, by Joel's admission, as they had been drinking alcohol and inhaling nitrous oxide throughout the course of the evening."

Lia admitted both charges and the case was adjourned until August 24.

The horror unfolded on March 4 as the friends made their way back from the night out.

A major hunt for the group was sparked after they were reported missing but it took two days to find the wreckage.

The car is understood to have left the road on a slip road on the A48 as it approached a roundabout.

Driver Rafel was the son of ex-QPR and Cardiff City player Leon Jeanne.An inquest was opened and adjourned in March heard toxicology tests are still being carried out.

Gwent Police and South Wales Police are currently subject to an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over how long it took to find the car.

Joel Lia gave police an account of their final moments

The Volkswagen left the road and smashed into a copse of trees

The Volkswagen left the road and smashed into a copse of trees

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