May the force NOT be with you!

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Ellis Sherwood and Mike O’Brien look back in anger

A picture published on social media of two middle-aged men who spent more than 11 years in jail for a murder they did not commit, highlights again the need for a legal investigation into the behaviour of the biggest police force in Wales, which was responsible for a string of miscarriage of justice cases.

The photograph on Facebook (FB) shows Ellis Sherwood and Mike O’Brien who are now in their fifties, but the pair were young men, when they were wrongly convicted of the killing.

Newsagent, Phillip Saunders, and one of the people wrongly convicted of his murder, Mike O’Brien

Both now endorse a Media Conference (MC)  to be held in the Autumn calling for a full judicial inquiry into the actions of South Wales Police (SWP) from the late 1980s to the 2010s, because of the number of miscarriages.

The MC about what has taken place in South Wales is on October 12 in Cardiff’s Norwegian Church Arts Centre at 11 am, and has been organised by Mr O’Brien (one of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three) to coincide with the murder 35 years ago of a newsagent in the city, called Phillip Saunders, for which he was wrongly incarcerated, before his innocence was established.

Mike O’Brien, with Jonathan Jones and Annette Hewins – there have been so many miscarriages of justice in South Wales…

Apart from this case, the list of other murder miscarriage cases includes, The Cardiff Three, The Darvell Brothers, Jonathan Jones, as well as Annette Hewins, but this does NOT have on it all those who were convicted wrongly for less important crimes, yet who now have a record which will affect them for the rest of their lives.

There is now a growing argument to scrap SWP altogether.

During the 1990s our Editor, Phil Parry, was regularly approached by solicitors saying that bad things were happening in South Wales, and that something had to be done.

Phil will be speaking out

Some of those who were falsely locked up will be speaking at the MC, as well as academics and authors who have examined what happened.

Mr Parry will be talking too, and several television programmes have been made looking at the recent events.

Earlier this year, another was broadcast examining Mr O’Brien’s story in detail.

What has happened was terrible to Phil

The promotional material before the programme, 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”.

Campaigners supported David (Dai) Morris, before he died still protesting his innocence

Sky documentaries were also broadcast earlier this year, called Murder in the Valleys (MITV), looking into the appalling Clydach murders in 1999, which is not (in theory) a miscarriage of justice case, although the man convicted of them (David ‘Dai’ Morris) died last year still protesting his innocence.

Mr O’Brien, has been severely affected by being imprisoned for 11 years for something he didn’t do, and appears on MITV saying that he believes the conviction of Mr Morris is a FURTHER 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”.

The Cardiff Three. Three black men were convicted of murder but one white man did it

In a formal interview for MITV (they wouldn’t do one with Mr Parry), Assistant Chief Constable 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 were “likely” 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’.

David Thorne of South Wales Police – ‘We got it wrong’

ACC Thorne acknowledged:  “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”.

The original secret filming footage from Phil’s BBC Panorama was shown on Sky’s ‘Murder in the Valleys’

Yet Mr Parry had made a BBC Panorama television programme about the Clydach Murders three years after they had occurred, and he was the first to question the police actions during the investigation. 

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.

Martyn Lloyd Evans on ‘Murder in the Valleys’, didn’t think the E-Fit was ‘relevant’

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).

In secret filming Stuart Lewis admitted the E-Fit bore a striking likeness to him and his identical twin brother Stephen

Inspector Stuart Lewis, had changed his shift to be on that night, however 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 to critics of the police.

In the MITV films Mr Evans’ boss as the then head of SWP CIDWynne Phillips, also said something incredible: “We can’t manufacture evidence”.

But events before the murders, showed that SWP have done EXACTLY that.

Wynne Phillips, formerly head of CID South Wales Police on ‘Murder in the Valley’ – ‘We can’t manufacture evidence’

To take just one of those cases (in which Mr Parry 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.

Mike O’Brien on ‘Murder in the Valleys’ said he would become the police’s worst nightmare

Now more evidence is coming to light, in the shape of a picture on FB of two men who spent years in jail wrongly convicted of murder, putting centre stage as it does the need for a judicial inquiry into the behaviour of SWP, which was responsible for the miscarriage of justice cases…


The memories of Phil’s decades long award-winning career in journalism (including some of the miscarriages of justice he has uncovered) as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

Book poster

Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.