Testing the limit

The Eye
Latest posts by The Eye (see all)
Andrew Malkinson spent 17 years in prison for a 2003 rape he did not commit

The sister of a man she believes was wrongly jailed for one of the worst murders in Welsh history has declared that the announcement of new DNA tests for contested serious convictions, could prove her brother’s innocence.

Andrew Malkinson was cleared by the appeal court last year after spending 17 years in prison for a 2003 rape he did not commit, and has said that the planned roll out of the  fresh testing should have happened many years ago. The miscarriage of justice body for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), said on April 15 it would be re-testing DNA in rape and murder cases from before 2016 that it has previously refused to refer to the court of appeal, where DNA was a factor in identification.

Despite the fact that there are grave concerns about the way the review is being conducted, it does offer hope to some.

The Guardian has reported: “An internal CCRC board paper seen by the Guardian shows that its newly announced forensic trawling exercise has so far been carried out by interns, who have begun the process of whittling down historic cases that could be sent for further DNA testing”.

Dai Morris’ sister, Debra (now Thomas) with parents after the first conviction: ‘They’ve got the wrong man’

Even so Debra Thomas (nee Morris) has endorsed the new testing and Mr Malkinson’s outraged comments, because they underline what happened in her brother’s (David ‘Dai’ Morris’) case. Ms Thomas said to The Eye: “At long last we might get to know what happened with David. We will definitely be asking for this to happen in the Clydach case. It could finally prove my brother’s innocence”.

Morris was found guilty by two juries of the terrible killings of four people (Mandy Power, her elderly disabled mother Doris, and two young children) in Clydach, after they were brutally beaten to death in 1999A police investigation (which became the subject of a BBC Panorama programme fronted by our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry) lasted for a year following the murders, before he was finally arrested, but Morris died in prison still protesting his innocence.

It is clear that the family of Mr Morris are deeply unhappy with the police investigation. They have started an online support group for Mr Morris, and on it his daughter Janiene Marie O’Sullivan (née Morris) has posted details of her distress about the way a crucial much-delayed forensic report had finally been released.

Among many complaints she wrote: “…all relevant information has been redacted! Our feeling is that something is wrong!”.

Phil went undercover to investigate police tactics

The announcement last month shines the spotlight too on other flawed inquiries by the same force (the largest in Wales) – South Wales Police (SWP) – and the campaigns underway now to clear the names of those convicted.

For example, Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi, and Stephen Miller were falsely found guilty in 1990 of the murder of Lynette White, and spent more than two years serving prison sentences having endured the same time on remand, while cousins John and Ronnie Actie were acquitted after being in custody since their arrests. Inaccurate 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. It exposes the failings by SWP investigating officers, and bolsters demands for a judicial inquiry.

The Cardiff Three. Three black men were convicted of murder (although FIVE were put on trial), but one white man actually did it

Three BLACK men had been convicted of the murder (although FIVE, including the Acties, were put on trial), when one WHITE man (Jeffrey Gafoor) was finally caught years later through DNA analysis (even at that point there had been major advances). He confessed to carrying out the appalling 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 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.

Murderer Jeffrey Gafoor and photofit the police had originally

There are now growing demands for a full legal investigation into the number of high-profile miscarriages in the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s. Apart from The Cardiff Three (Five), they include: The Cardiff Newsagent Three, The Darvell Brothers, Jonathan Jones (The Tooze Murders), as well as Annette Hewins (The Gurnos Fire Case). More action is planned by The Cardiff Five support group over the coming weeks, to draw attention to these cases.

Mike O’Brien, with Jonathan Jones and Annette Hewins – who were among many who have been jailed wrongly by South Wales Police

However this shameful list does NOT have on it all those innocent people, who were convicted of less important crimes than murder, 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.

All of this has emphasised the shocking fact that across Wales and England the public’s confidence in the police is at an all time low. A YouGov poll taken in November found that only 49 per cent of Britons thought the police were “doing a good job”, down from 77 per cent four years ago. In his most recent assessment of policing, Andy Cooke, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMCIC), described this as one of policing’s “biggest crises in living memory”. He could not remember, he said, “when the relationship between the police and the public was more strained than it is now”.

Liz Saville-Roberts, MP, leader of Plaid Cymru in the House of Commons, tabled the motion highlighting miscarriages by South Wales Police which called for a judicial inquiry

Meanwhile anger over the miscarriages of justices in Wales, has led to the tabling of an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the UK Parliament which was signed by several MPs, emphasising growing calls for a judicial review.


It proclaimed: “…this House notes the series of cases since the 1980s investigated by South Wales Police force that resulted in wrongful convictions; further notes the devastating impact that wrongful accusation and imprisonment can have on people subject to miscarriages of justice; expresses concern that many of the perpetrators of these crimes have yet to be found; and calls on the Ministry of Justice to organise a judicial inquiry into all miscarriages of justice that took place between 1982 and 2016”. The motion was immediately signed by three Plaid Cymru (Plaid) MPs, including the party’s leader in the House of Commons (HoC), who tabled the motion, Liz Saville-Roberts

Phil with Mike O’Brien, one of those wrongly convicted after a flawed police investigation, at the Media Conference calling for an inquiry into the actions of South Wales Police

Media Conference (MC), was held too (at which Phil spoke) also demanding the judicial inquiry to uncover the truth about the miscarriages (it has since been refused, but as the EDM and the new testing information show, there is now increasing pressure to hold one).

Following the MC some then marched to the Welsh Parliament/Senedd (WP/S), and Welsh Government (WG) buildings, with a number of politicians backing a Statement of Opinion to support the calls for an inquiry. A rally was held as well outside Cardiff Crown Court.

Wales has FOUR police forces, in a population of 3.1 million!

At the MC Phil stressed the disturbing 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 said: “Scotland is much bigger, but only has ONE. London has almost nine million people yet has just TWO Think of the public money that is wasted duplicating resources, to pay fat salaries to all those Assistant Chief Constables, and Chief Constables!”.

He also said to 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 told 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’, but that this was the least that should be done with SWP.

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

The MC was organised by Mr O’Brien, who talked movingly about how his health had been badly affected after he spent 11 years inside prison, for a crime he did not commit. Mr O’Brien told The Eye: “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 of what had happened to him, was John Actie.

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.

A lot of programmes have been broadcast

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”.

Phil Jones formerly of South Wales Police had a “lack of moral fibre” according to the judge when he was jailed

Adding to the woes of SWP, and emphasising the EDM as well as the growing protest movement, is that a former head of CID has been 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.

A screening on Sky called ‘Murder in the Valleys’ (MITV) looked in detail at the shocking Clydach Murders, and it once more underlined recent events despite the fact it is not (in theory) a miscarriage of justice case, even though the death of the man convicted of them (Mr Morris) came as he maintained his innocence.

Website where Debra Morris showed her frustration

Another television programme 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 & Australiaand a sister to Channel 5, which specialises in documentaries. Mrs O’Sullivan, 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 Murderstalking rubbish!…South Wales police have done themselves no favours again with this one”.

Mr Morris’s sister Debra Thomas also said 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”.

Mandy Power, her two daughters Katie and Emily, along with disabled mother Doris Dawson, were all beaten to death

The website Mrs Thomas helped set up, along with her niece, questions her brother’s guilt and has almost 31,000 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????”.

The successful prosecution case against Mr Morris was that he had gone to Ms Power’s looking for sex, high on drink and drugs, been spurned and beat the entire family to death, leaving his chain there in the process. Yet the evidence suggested Doris had been killed first, NOT her daughter, when presumably it would have been the person doing the spurning who would have died FIRST!

Mike O’Brien on the Sky programme Murder In The Valleys said he would be South Wales Police’s worst nightmare

Mr O’Brien appears on MITV saying that he believes the conviction of Mr Morris IS in fact another 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”.

David Thorne of South Wales Police on ‘Murder in the Valleys’ – ‘We got it wrong, but this time we are right’

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.

Ellis Sherwood and Mike O’Brien were both wrongly jailed for murder by South Wales Police

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 tearful 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”.

Phil questioned the police actions on Panorama

However Phil had made the BBC Panorama television programme FAIR COPS? 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 SWP Martyn LloydEvans (who used the word ‘sublime’ when he meant ‘subdued’!), 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.

Martyn Lloyd-Evans should look up what words mean!

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.

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

However Mr Evans’ record was considered so exemplary he was later chosen to examine cold cases in the Major Crime Review unit. In 2009, he said: “What we do is use today’s technology on yesterday’s cases which means that offenders who may think that they are safe 20 years after a crime has been committed aren’t any more and could receive a knock on the door any day”.

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

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.

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.

New tests might reveal the truth

Now new evidence may come to light in the horrendous Clydach Murders case, after the announcement of new DNA testing.

Certainly the family of Morris (like his sister) hope so…


The memories of Phil’s remarkable decades long award-winning career in journalism (during which the mistakes of the police were often brought out) as he was gripped by the rare and incurable neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’ (including The Cardiff Newsagent Three case). Order the book now!


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

Tomorrow – Phil shows how investigations like these would often take ages to complete, and these could last even longer with news now that the life span of those under scrutiny (as well as their lawyers) could be indefinite..