- Ill discipline part one - 28th March 2023
- Nation in a state - 27th March 2023
- A final episode of Howard’s way? - 21st March 2023
Disturbing revelations of MORE top-level investigations after further evidence of malpractice by police officers, have once again highlighted huge failings at the biggest force in Wales.
PC Bonnie Murphy is facing dismissal from the Metropolitan Police (The Met) after she allegedly asked for a picture of a de-composing corpse, so that she could “share it with her mother”. She received the shocking image from fellow officer Jamie Lewis, who was later jailed for posing for selfies next to two murdered sisters.
The alarming news follows details about the same force harbouring serial rapist David Carrick (known as ‘bastard Dave’ in The Met) who had assaulted dozens of women over two decades, but was only finally sacked the DAY AFTER his court case, when he’d been a convicted rapist FOR HOURS! Journalists have disclosed that NINE chances to stop him were missed by The Met, and the Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has apologised.
The Met was placed in ‘special measures’ after a litany of “systemic” failings like this. Tens of thousands of crimes also went unrecorded and there have been errors in stop and search. Apart from recent scandals, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has emphasised a series of others – from the murder of Sarah Everard by the serving Met officer Wayne Couzens, the strip-searching of innocent children, stop and search controversies such as that of the champion athlete Bianca Williams, and offensive attitudes among officials shown by racist messages exchanged between officers at Charing Cross Police Station. It also noted the “seemingly incomprehensible failures to recognise and treat appropriately a series of suspicious deaths…”.
Police actions during the Hillsborough disaster also seem to have been ‘incomprehensible’.
Officers said sorry for the “profound failings” which “continued to blight” relatives of victims, and Chief Constables have promised “cultural change” on behalf of all 43 forces.
It’s not just these forces either.
A serving officer with Dorset Police was charged with eight sexual offences, including two charges of rape. PC Ravi Canhye was due to appear at Poole Magistrates’ Court on Friday. The rape charges relate to two women and allegedly took place while the officer was off duty in early 2022.
The awful headlines strike nearer to home in Wales too. Ex-South Wales Police (SWP) Sergeant David Meller was banned from the force, after he was found to have used inappropriate language and behaviour towards female colleagues, as well as a teenage detainee in the custody suite.
He swore at a 15 year old girl and used sexual references to women in front of her.
After the formal hearing which followed, officialese language was used by SWP to describe what had happened: ‘Mr Meller had breached the standards of professional behaviour, namely authority, respect and courtesy, showed discreditable conduct, and failed to challenge inappropriate behaviour’. He was to be added to the ‘Barring List’, preventing him from returning to the profession.
Such appalling disclosures put centre stage other actions by officers in SWP. There has been a string of miscarriage of justice cases on its watch, and a Media Conference (MC), was held last year (at which our Editor, Phil Parry, spoke) calling for a judicial inquiry to uncover the truth about what happened. Following the MC some then marched to the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC), and Welsh Government (WG) buildings to demand action. Nine members of the WP/SC have backed a Statement of Opinion supporting the calls for an inquiry.
They were all underlining alarm about miscarriages in the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s including: The Cardiff Three (Five), The Cardiff Newsagent Three, The Darvell Brothers, Jonathan Jones (The Tooze Murders), as well as Annette Hewins. But this shameful list does NOT have on it all those innocent people, who were convicted of less important crimes, yet who now have a record which will affect them for the rest of their lives, and there is a powerful argument for getting rid of SWP completely.
Phil emphasised the worrying fact that areas with a greater population, have FEWER police forces. “It is ridiculous that in a population of 3.1 million people we in Wales have FOUR forces”, he told The Eye. “Scotland is much bigger, but only has ONE. London has almost nine million people yet has just TWO (including The Met).Think of the public money that is wasted duplicating resources, to pay fat salaries to all those Assistant Chief Constables, and Chief Constables!”. At the MC, Phil told the audience that he was regularly approached by solicitors during the 1990s, who said the police were doing bad things, and that something had to be done. On one occasion he was instructed to put away his notebook, because he was informed that no record should be made of the conversation. He also described how other forces had been put in ‘special measures’ (including The Met), but that this was the least that should be done with SWP.
The MC was organised by one of those wrongly convicted after a flawed investigation by its officers, (Mike O’Brien, of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three). Mr O’Brien spoke movingly about how his health had been badly affected after he spent 11 years inside prison, for a crime he did not commit. He told The Eye earlier: “My health has been ruined, and there has been long-lasting damage. My miscarriage of justice case has caused a huge family rift”. Mr O’Brien, who is now in his fifties, was jailed wrongly in 1988 for the killing of Cardiff newsagent, Phillip Saunders.
Another who spoke emotionally at the MC of what had happened to him, was John Actie, one of the Cardiff Three/Five. He was accused of involvement in the murder of 20-year-old Lynette White, who was viciously killed in James Street in what is now known as Cardiff Bay. Three BLACK men had been convicted of the murder (although FIVE, including Mr Actie, were put on trial), when one WHITE man (Jeffrey Gafoor) was finally caught years later through DNA analysis. He confessed to carrying out the terrible 1988 murder, and even apologised (through his barrister) to the others who had been incorrectly jailed.
The five innocent men, were arrested in December 1988 after detectives had been on the case for 10 months, and were pursuing a suspect seen nearby (who looked EXACTLY like Mr Gafoor), minutes following the murder. But when SWP changed the investigating team, and pressure mounted to make an arrest, attention turned to locals. Despite no forensic evidence connecting the five to Ms White’s murder they were taken in.
Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi, and Stephen Miller were found guilty in 1990 of the murder and served more than two years in prison, having spent the same time on remand, while cousins John and Ronnie Actie were acquitted after being in custody since their arrest.
False eyewitness statements, coerced confessions, and more were used in the police ‘investigation’. However on appeal in 1992 the taped interviews with Mr Miller, who had a mental age of 11, were deemed an example of inappropriate interrogation for reference in future cases, such was their intimidating and coercive nature. Several programmes have been broadcast looking at the events in which the police played such a major part, and a number are in production now.
Last year, another was transmitted examining Mr O’Brien’s story in detail. The promotional material before it, declared: “Episode One Monday 23rd May at 9pm Raphael Rowe delves into the brutal murder of Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders in 1987. The episode examines the investigation that led to the conviction of three innocent men, which resulted in their wrongful imprisonment. The episode reveals shocking police threats and coercion that led to the arrest and incarceration of Michael O’Brien, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall. After the men had spent more than a decade behind bars, a court appeal quashed the original verdict, but the unsolved case continues to haunt the city. Plus, for the first time ever, the victim’s sister and nephew break a 35-year silence and reveal exclusive insights into the case”.
Adding to the woes of SWP, and emphasising the bad publicity for the police after revelations that a huge number of investigations were underway, is that a former head of CID was recently jailed. A highly complex sting operation trapped one time Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Jones, which involved the bugging of cars, and deploying of decoy ‘clients’ who made out they wanted to pay for information. It climaxed in Mr Jones admitting to paying an ex-colleague to supply him with information from police databases, after he retired from SWP to run a private investigations agency in 1997.
The lengthy inquiry, called Operation Boost, led to the once-lauded police officer being jailed for 18 months. Mr Jones confessed to conspiracy to commit wilful misconduct in a public office, and conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, at Bristol Crown Court in December 2008. The judge in the case Simon Darwall-Smith said: “For a person of your age and former seniority, retiring at the rank of detective chief superintendent, it saddens this court to see how you conspired with your friends…because you knew they were prepared to break the law to access information.
Sky documentaries were also broadcast earlier last year, called Murder in the Valleys (MITV), looking into a FURTHER CASE – the horrific Clydach murders in 1999. This, too, was put centre stage by the MC, as well as by what has happened in other police forces, despite the fact it is not (in theory) a miscarriage of justice case, although the man convicted of them (David ‘Dai’ Morris) died in prison still protesting his innocence. They were nominated for two awards at the BAFTA Cymru ceremony, including one for best Factual Series. Mr O’Brien appears on MITV saying that he believes the conviction of Mr Morris IS in fact a miscarriage of justice. He told the MITV documentary-makers: “When I was released from prison I remember… saying ‘I’m going to be South Wales Police’s worst nightmare for what they did to me’, and I meant every word of it”.
In a formal interview for MITV (they wouldn’t do one with Phil), Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) of SWP, David Thorne, made a startling admission, about the mistakes that were made by the police in the earlier miscarriages of justice.
During filming for the programme Mr Thorne appeared on, a forensic review found traces of DNA on a sock which it is believed was used to hold the murder weapon, that was “more likely than not” to have come from Mr Morris, and SWP trumpeted the finding. They effectively said: ‘We know we got it wrong in the past, but this time is different. Trust us’. Yet a long-running campaign has been launched to establish his innocence, and after the first trial when Mr Morris was convicted, his sister Debra gave a press conference with her parents when she stressed her belief that he was NOT guilty. She said: “He just didn’t do these things…they’ve got the wrong man”.
However, ACC Thorne insisted on MITV, that Mr Morris was the RIGHT man, but acknowledged that mistakes had been made in previous police inquiries. He proclaimed: “It’s safe to say we got it wrong (in the past). We absolutely got it wrong. (There were) HUGE errors in the way investigations were conducted (but) we HAVEN’T found that in this case. This is not a miscarriage of justice”.
Another television programme late last year, on 5Star (which pretended to be looking into ‘cold cases’), though was VERY different. and incurred the wrath of many close to what had happened. 5Star is a free-to-air television channel owned by Paramount Networks UK & Australia and a sister to Channel 5, which specialises in documentaries. It originally launched as the female-orientated Five Life in October 2006, and was relaunched as Fiver in 2008 with a revised version of the same concept. The channel later re-branded as 5Star in 2011.
One of the daughters of Mr Morris, Janiene Marie O’Sullivan, publicly declared to her dedicated website group: “I am finding it difficult to put into words how it made me feel….Basically it was a whole hour of Martin Lloyd-Evans (who led the investigation into the Clydach Murders) talking rubbish!…South Wales police have done themselves no favours again with this one”.
Mr Morris’s sister Debra Thomas also proclaimed on the site: “Can you believe the utter verbal diarrhoea Martin Lloyd was spouting in that cheap channel 5 program…I also know the journalist is on this group so I hope and pray she gets to read this.”
And: “What disgraceful journalism!! They should hang their heads in shame” The website Mrs Thomas helped set up, along with her niece, questions her brother’s guilt and has over 30,000 members. On it she published a reply from Channel 5 to her complaint about the programme, but above the letter she wrote: “What research did they do????”.
Years before this controversial transmission, Phil had made a BBC Panorama television programme about the appalling Clydach Murders after they had been committed, and he was the first to question the police actions during THIS investigation too. As he said in the opening of the programme: “One police force in Britain has a disturbing record of locking up the wrong people in murder cases”.
During MITV, the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) at the time, Detective Superintendent (DS) (Retd.) of South Wales Police (SWP) Martyn Lloyd Evans, is questioned about the apparent mistake of not releasing to the public a witnesses E-Fit constructed soon after the murders, which, it said, had a 90 per cent likeness. He replies that because the man seen was carrying a bag, and it was believed the killer did not have one, it was not put out.
Mr Evans said: “I didn’t think it was relevant”, but the E-Fit matched almost exactly the face of the first senior police officer on the scene, Inspector (at the time) Stuart Lewis, who (against all procedure) had only stayed there a matter of minutes, or that of his identical twin brother (another police officer, Sergeant [also at the time] Stephen Lewis, whose wife was having a gay affair with one of the victims).
Inspector Stuart Lewis, had changed his shift to be on that night, yet at crucial hours during the murders his whereabouts were unknown. He was driving a red Peugeot diesel, and a car similar to this was spotted near the murder scene.
So to say the E-Fit was ‘not relevant’, appeared bizarre in the extreme, to critics of the police. In the MITV films Mr Evans’ boss as the then head of SWP CID, Wynne Phillips, also said something incredible: “We can’t manufacture evidence”. Yet events before the murders, showed that SWP have done EXACTLY that.
To take just one of those cases (in which Phil was intimately involved, because he had made ANOTHER programme questioning THAT conviction [The Cardiff Newsagent Three]), the police MANUFACTURED (as Mr Phillips said they DIDN’T do) an overheard ‘confession’ between the young men they had arrested, when an admission was effectively made to the murder of the newsagent, and they presented before the court ‘EVIDENCE’ that the group had run from the scene, but one of the three had bad legs and couldn’t run at all!
Now there is more evidence of questionable police behaviour (some of which has led to court cases), which emphasises all of these misdeeds…
The memories of Phil’s incredible 39-year award-winning career in journalism (including important miscarriage of justice stories), as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition , Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.