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Cabbie, British tourist die in chase crash
Pictures: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

The driver of a stolen car has been charged with two counts of manslaughter over a crash in which a taxi driver and his passenger were killed.

The stolen car and the taxi collided in an horrific crash in Kewdale early this morning after the driver of the stolen car allegedly went through a red light, police said.

The vehicle had earlier been chased by police but the chase was aborted and the vehicle was being monitored by the police helicopter at the time of the crash.

Police said the pursuit was aborted on Canning Highway, near Berwick St in Victoria Park, after the driver turned off his headlights.

The taxi driver and his passenger, a British tourist who had only just arrived in Australia, were killed in the crash.

Police said this morning that a 23-year-old man had been charged at a bedside court hearing.

Assistant Commissioner Gary Budge said: “The circumstances that will be alleged are that the taxi had collected a passenger from the airport and was proceeding along Leach Highway to the city.

“At the intersection of the Orrong Road off ramp it will be alleged a stolen Toyota FJ cruiser travelling south east crashed into the taxi, killing both the taxi driver and his passenger.

“Police will allege the driver of the cruiser proceeded through a red light at speed.

“The cruiser was observed by police and a pursuit was authorised, this pursuit was aborted on Canning Highway in Victoria Park when the helicopter reported the vehicle had its headlights turned off.

“It is difficult to imagine the trauma that two families must be feeling out there today and I want to pass on my condolences to both of those families and tell them we will provide all the support that is possible to both of them.”

It is alleged the Toyota he was driving was stolen from Secret Harbour on October 16 and is believed to have been involved in several serious crimes over the past week.

A police spokesman said the driver of the vehicle had driven erratically through several streets and suburbs during the earlier chase.

The 23-year-old is believed to have suffered a broken leg and is in hospital.

A police internal investigation is underway.

WA Police Union president George Tilbury described the death as tragic.

Mr Tilbury said tougher laws were required to deter people from trying to flee police.

The police union have been pushing for tougher penalties and legal protection of officers who were involved in pusuits after a policeman was charged over a chase that ended with the death of a Dianella woman Sharon D'Ercole in April.

Mr Tilbury said officers were still considering banning pursuits if Parliament did not act to provide the protection and the tougher penalties they were calling for.

Opposition police spokesman Michelle Roberts said the State Government was slow in implementing changes to the law which would allow for mandatory jail for anyone convicted of evading police.

Premier Colin Barnett said the accident as dreadful. “I extend my sympathy to the two innocent people who lost their lives," he said.

Mr Barnett said there had been a significant loss of life on WA roads in the last three weeks.

“But again, the police have to take charge and responsibility on our roads and the behaviour of the driver who caused that accident was totally unacceptable.”

He expected legislation, which would provide protection for police officers involved in high speed pursuits, to be introduced into parliament next week.

He defended delays in introducing the new laws.

“The legislation had to go to cabinet and be drafted. There is another three weeks of parliament left and hopefully that legislation will be in place as quickly as possible and certainly over the summer period.”

Major crash investigators moved the vehicles and placed them on the road at the point of impact.

It appears the taxi was driving west along Leach Highway away from the airport and the four-wheel-drive was travelling south along Orrong Road.

The taxi was hit on the driver's side.

The roads were due to be reopened by 10.30am.

Officers from the major crash squad performed some skid mark tests along Orrong Road.

Both vehicles have been removed from the scene.

The scene of the double fatality. Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian