- Ill discipline part one - 28th March 2023
- Nation in a state - 27th March 2023
- A final episode of Howard’s way? - 21st March 2023
The second day of sentencing today of serial rapist David Carrick who was a serving police officer, again emphasises worrying actions by those in Wales, as well as recent television programmes looking into cases involving the country’s largest force.
The news comes hard on the heels of an admission by the biggest force in the UK (the Metropolitan Police [Met]) that it is investigating at least 800 of 35,000 officers over allegations of racism and misogyny, and that more than one in every 50 of its officers had been taken off frontline duties while they were being probed, with 16 officers convicted. A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by The Guardian shows that 150 individuals in the Met have a life of being prevented from holding public-facing roles, and the incredible figure represents a doubling of numbers, with the force facing unprecedented pressure to tackle deep-rooted problems.
In a television interview, one of Carrick’s victim’s who is a serving police officer, said: “The culture was if you reported something like that it would label you more than them. I refused to go through my career as the woman who alleges rape”.
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.
So it is obvious that all is not well with police services, and that investigations following disturbing evidence, are weak, as well as taking FAR too long. On average 400 days are spent resolving allegations of misconduct, and at the end, less than one per cent of officers involved in two or more cases are sacked.
For the police in Wales, reports of investigations into claims of intolerance among officers, are the last thing they need. A police watchdog is also looking into contentions of racism and misogyny in Gwent Police (GP), as well as homophobia.
The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) has said that the behaviour of three serving GP officers is being examined, and it would keep the involvement of other officers under review.
But these extraordinary disclosures put centre stage worrying incidents at GP’s neighbouring force, SWP too.
There has been a string of miscarriage of justice cases on its watch, and a Media Conference (MC), was held last year (at which The Eye’s 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, with several senior politicians backing a Statement of Opinion to support the calls for an inquiry.
These actions underscored demands for the legal investigation into the number of 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. However 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 stressed 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!”.
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.
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 one of them, proclaimed: “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”.
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 thrown into focus by the MC, as well as by the continued sentencing of rapist Carrick, despite the fact it is not (in theory) a miscarriage of justice case, although the man convicted of them (David ‘Dai’ Morris) died 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”.
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.
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????”.
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 were “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 an emotional 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”.
ACC Thorne, though, 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”.
However Phil had made a BBC Panorama television programme about the shocking Clydach Murders a few years 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, 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 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”. But 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.
But the number of official inquiries underway into behaviour by the police ISN’T manufactured, with the sentencing of a former police officer, emphasing worrying actions by others in Wales, as well as recent television programmes looking into cases involving the country’s largest force.
Details of miscarriage of justice cases, by Phil, who spent 23 years with The BBC, and 39 years in journalism, 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!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.