FACT CHECK: These Photos are Not of The Girl Who Drove a Car into Nanda Motors Showroom at Nelum Pokuna Roundabout…

Misleading Social

Social media is flooded with reports about a luxury jeep driven by a daughter of a senior superintendent of police (SSP) crashing into the Nanda Motors Showroom at the Nelum Pokuna roundabout on 15th November. 

Our investigation confirmed that, the girl whose photos went viral on social media was in fact was not the girl behind the wheel when the accident took place.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS:

Soon after the accident on 15th November a series of posts along with photographs of a young girl emerged on social media claiming to be the culprit who caused the accident. Below are few examples of such posts, which had claimed the photos were of the daughter of a Senior Superintendent of Police, who crashed a car into a motor showroom recently. It is also alleged that she was found driving without a valid driving license. 

Facebook | Archived   Facebook | Archived  Facebook | Archived

Fact Check 

We began our fact check by analyzing news websites and social media reports about the November 15 accident. Almost every report stated that the daughter of a senior police officer had caused the accident by driving a luxury vehicle into a motor showroom at Nelum Pokuna roundabout. Among the photos published in many of the reports regarding the accident, were two pictures of a young woman, as seen above. One image shows two women in black (allegedly claimed to be responsible for the accident) and orange dresses respectively while the other image is of the woman posing with a camera. Newswire | Archived   DailyMirror | NethFM

At the same time, we noticed that some of the posts mentioning that the photos were of a girl named Sindy Wickramanayake. Below are side-by-side comparisons of a photo that was reported by the media at the time of the accident and a photo that appeared on Sindy’s Facebook account.

Sindy Wickramanayake posted on her Facebook account on November 15th and 16th clarifying the allegations against her, as seen below.

FacebookArchived LinkFacebookArchived

Several news outlets had also reported this news using the statement issued by Sindy Wickramanayake.  

“Regarding the incident that occurred last afternoon at Nanda Motors, I would like to state that I was not involved in the accident and I was not the driver of the vehicle. I was in a separate vehicle in front of the Land Cruiser and we slowed down our car and then witnessed the vehicle crash into the dealership. The Land Cruiser was driven by another individual, and not me.

Only after the accident occurred did I leave my vehicle and rush to check up on my friends who were involved with the accident. The photograph that is being circulated across social media was captured at this point. I would like to reiterate I was not involved in the aforementioned accident and I was not the driver of the vehicle. I am not the daughter of SSP Ratnayake. My friend who is the daughter was the driver of the vehicle. Hence, I would sincerely appreciate if my name and photograph can be refrained from being circulated identifying me as the perpetrator of the accident. Thank You.” @sindywickramanayaka as reported by Daily Mirror.

DailyMirrorArchived

When we investigated further, we discovered that one Reshani Maleesha Ratnayake (19) was driving the vehicle, which was involved in the accident, and had been released on police bail and that her brother’s reckless driving had caused a Borella Police Traffic OIC’s death last year according to a Daily Mirror report. 

We also made an inquiry with the Police Media Division regarding the accident at the Nelum Pokuna roundabout. They confirmed to us that the driver of the vehicle in the accident was in fact Reshani Melisha Ratnayake, the daughter of a senior police officer and that she was not the girl in the photos being shared on social media.

In this detailed report by Aruna newspaper about the incident, the girl who drove the vehicle causing the accident, Reshani Maleesha Ratnayake had also mentioned that Sindy who was in another vehicle came to the location after the accident.

We contacted Sindy Wickramanayake regarding the incident as well and while confirming the above facts she added that the other girl in red dress (regarding the above viral image in which Sindy is seated with another girl wearing a black dress) is a separate friend and in no way connected to this accident as well.

Accused Released on bail :

Many had questioned whether the girl who caused the accident was released on bail under special privileges due to being the daughter of a Senior Superintendent of Police. In response to this, Police Media Spokesman Ajith Rohana made a statement on a TV program mentioning that the offender would be prosecuted for reckless driving and driving without a license. He further stated that the accident did not cause a loss of life nor any injuries, which enabled her to be released on bail. His statement can be viewed here

Media reported that the daughter of the SSP of Police was produced before the Colombo Magistrate court on 18th November for causing considerable damage to private car showroom in the Cinnamon Gardens area and high speed reckless driving and not possessing a valid driver’s license, was released on a surety bail of Rs 200,000. The case is to be taken up again on 02nd March 2021. 

HiruNews | Archived  Daily Mirror

On September 6, 2019, the Daily News reported that Navindu Umesh Ratnayake, the driver of the Defender that killed the OIC of the Borella Police, had been released on a bail of Rs. 200,000 as well.

Conclusion 

Our investigation reveals that the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident at the Nelum Pokuna roundabout was not Sindy Wickramanayake, the girl in the photo shared on social media, but a young woman named Reshani Maleesha Ratnayake, the daughter of a Senior Superintendent of Police.

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Title:These Photos are Not of The Girl Who Drove a Car into Nanda Motors Showroom at Nelum Pokuna Roundabout…

Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne 

Result: Misleading

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