Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

BBC Wales investigation uncovers potential new evidence in Clydach Murders case

Published

on

A BBC WALES investigation has uncovered potential new evidence casting doubt over the guilt of a man for the horrific murders of three generations of one family 21-years-ago.

In a powerful one-hour documentary made by the BBC Wales Investigates team, later tonight on BBC One Wales at 9pm and then on BBC iPlayer, reporter Wyre Davies explores whether the conviction of David Morris for one of Wales’ most shocking crimes could be a miscarriage of justice.

Mandy Power, her elderly mother and two young daughters were brutally bludgeoned to death with a metal pole coated in fibre glass at their home in Kelvin Road, Clydach, near Swansea in the summer of 1999. It led to South Wales Police’s largest ever murder inquiry.

Seven years after the murders, local labourer Morris was sentenced to four life prison terms at Newport Crown Court in 2006, later to be reduced to 32 years, after being found guilty of the mass murders.

A year earlier his conviction from a previous trial at Swansea Crown Court in 2002 had been quashed in the Court of Appeal but he was soon to be convicted again.

The brutal murders had sent shockwaves through the close-knit Welsh community in the summer of 1999 and it soon emerged 34-year-old Mandy Power had been involved in a serious love affair with former police officer Alison Lewis at the time she was killed.

Alison Lewis was married and living with her husband – South Wales Police Sergeant Stephen Lewis – when the murders occurred sometime between June 26th and the early hours of June 27th in 1999.

In a twist to the tragic events, Stephen’s twin brother Stuart, an acting inspector with the force at the time, was the most senior officer to arrive at the crime scene that morning.

All three of the Lewis’s quickly became suspects in connection with the murders and just over a year later – in July 2000 – Alison and Stephen Lewis were arrested on suspicion of murder and Stuart Lewis was arrested on the suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

They were questioned but weren’t charged as the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence. All three maintained they were innocent of any involvement.

The focus of the police investigation then sharply turned to Morris after police linked him to a gold chain left at the murder scene, which he admitted was his just weeks before his first trial. He was arrested in March 2001, questioned and charged with the horrific killings in the same month.

However, a new eyewitness account from the night questions whether South Wales Police missed investigating potentially important information during their original inquiries.

Tonight’s programme will hear from a taxi driver, Mike, who claims to have seen twin brothers Stephen and Stuart Lewis walking along Vardre Road minutes away from the crime scene in Kelvin Road after 2am.

“There were two blokes walking towards me on the pavement next to the taxi my side,” Mike said.

“And what struck me was they were very, very similar. Both dark hair, cropped. Very, very similar features.”

Mike says that after seeing their photos in local press coverage he was “100% convinced” the two men he saw were the Lewis brothers. He was working as a taxi driver for a local firm on the night of the murders. He said he contacted police twice about the sightings but says his calls and information he gave to police were never followed up.

Stephen Lewis issued a statement, saying any witnesses who suggest he was in Clydach on the night were mistaken as he was at home all night.

Stuart Lewis has said he did not see either Alison or his twin Stephen that night and was on general patrol when the killings took place; while Alison has said she was at home in bed with her husband, Stephen.

BBC Wales now understands Mike has given his statement to the police, who are investigating.

Wyre Davies also talks to another potential eyewitness in the programme.

John Allen claims to have seen a man carrying a green coloured “kit bag” under his arm near to the crime scene as he drove as a disqualified driver in country lanes in the early hours of the morning with three others.

He says he regrets not informing police at the time but has come forward now.

“I seen him perfectly. Standing there in the middle of the road. When I come round the corner I had to slam on or I would have hit him cause he was practically on my bonnet,” Mr Allen said.

Mr Allen did not report what he saw to the police at the time, and admits that he was driving while disqualified, but says he has now come forward as it’s “been on his mind” for 20 years, and he wants justice.

Another witness who actually gave evidence at David Morris’ trials, also claims to have seen a man carrying a bundle that night near to Kelvin Road.

Nicola Williams reported what she saw to police, provided an e-fit and later identified the man as Stephen Lewis at a video ID parade. At trial her evidence was disputed and it seems it didn’t cause the jury to doubt David Morris’ guilt.

Morris’ legal team believe the potential new sightings could be significant and their testimonials should be investigated by police and the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Solicitor Maslen Merchant said: “It’s very, very interesting the accounts that they’ve given.

“It’s interesting that they describe events and seeing the same individual – or possibly one of two individuals – around that area at exactly the right time.

“Potentially, new witnesses could provide Dai with a ground of appeal; new “witnesses could get these convictions quashed.

Morris, who has spent more than 19 years in prison for the crime, has always protested his innocence.

His DNA and fingerprints were never discovered at the crime scene in Kelvin Road where he was said to have started four fires to destroy the house after brutally beating his victims to death.

The most incriminating evidence against Morris was the gold chain found at the crime scene which he lied was his until weeks before his first trial.

Winchester University lecturer Brian Thornton has been investigating the murders for more than 10 years from the Crime and Research Centre he set up at the university. He gave BBC Wales access to the original court files housed in a bunker at the university containing thousands of documents and exhibits from the case to investigate.

Professor Thornton said the potential new evidence could prove significant and hopefully provide a breakthrough in terms of getting the case reviewed and back to the Court of Appeal. They plan to include the potential new evidence in a fresh application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

“The threshold that you have to pass is you have to establish that there is fresh evidence, new evidence, essentially evidence that the jury never heard.

“And this new evidence is going to be right at the heart of the fresh application,” Brian Thornton said.

Morris’ defence team also believe the key to potentially proving his innocence could still lie in the forensics, despite their client’s DNA never being discovered at the scene.

Forensic scientist Joanne Millington has been looking at the case again with fresh eyes.

In the programme she argues there were shortcomings in the original DNA testing of the murder weapon as well as a blood-soaked sock thought to be used as a glove by the killer and both found at the crime scene. Her findings will be included in the new application to be submitted to the CCRC.

Ms Millington says it is already known that an unidentified partial male DNA trace was detected on the murder weapon that isn’t a match to an elimination sample provided by Morris.

“We have an elimination sample from him to compare directly and it doesn’t match his profile,” she said.

Wyre Davies also traces the steps of Morris on the night of the murders and examines the potential sequence of who was killed at the victims’ home in Kelvin Road.

Also appearing in the programme is barrister Simon McKay who has expertise in disclosure and high-profile cases around terrorism and security.

After looking again at disclosure details in both of Morris’s trials, he raises concerns that too many documents were withheld from the defence under the legal umbrella of Public Interest Immunity (PII). The type of documents normally held back as PII are usually only those seen as important for protecting government and public security as well as covert police intelligence.

Mr McKay said: “This case certainly has a significant volume of material which was subject to a series of public interest immunity applications and there is not an obvious reason why you would expect that to arise.

“When one looks at the entire context of the case … then it’s understandable that one walks away from this case with serious concerns that justice has been done.”

The 21-year-old murder case has been back in the spotlight following a campaign set up by Morris’s family.

An online Facebook page aimed at freeing him now has more than 22,000 members. Before lockdown, meetings were held regularly in Swansea to rally support.

Supporters who believe there has been a miscarriage of justice wear or decorate their cars or house with yellow or green garlands and bows.

Morris’ sister Debra Thomas has always protested her brother’s innocence and says she hopes the programme will convince other potential witnesses to come forward with information.

Two attempts to convince the review body to take a fresh look at the case have so far failed, the latest in 2018.

South Wales Police says it undertook an extensive investigation; Morris has twice been convicted by a jury and they await the content of the programme with interest.

The victims’ families – the Dawson and Power families – both issued statements earlier this week, saying they believe the right man was behind bars for the killings.

The Clydach Murders: Beyond Reasonable Doubt airs on BBC One Wales tonight (Thursday) at 9pm; and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

Continue Reading

Business

An experimental nuclear fusion reactor could be built in Pembrokeshire

Published

on

PEMBROKESHIRE could be the location of an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, which could produce abundent clean energy, if the council backs plans for a site on land owned jointly between Valero oil refinery and Pembroke Power station.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet will be asked next week (May 17) to support the project, which it is hoped could create limitless energy.

The officers of the council are recommending to Cabinet that members approve the nominated site being included on the list of UKAEA candidate sites.

Elsewhere in Wales, the Vale of Glamorgan Council is bidding for it to be built at the Aberthaw power station site.

Communities had until the end of March to nominate locations.

If approved the nuclear fusion station, the council’s officers say, could position Pembrokeshire at the international forefront of the clean energy revolution, bringing visibility to the community on a global stage. It was also recommended that the project will bring long-term and enduring environmental, employment, skills and economic benefits to the host community.

However, Greenpeace believes that nuclear fusion is an expensive distraction from the real agenda of providing environmentally benign, reliable energy supply. The campaign group gas also written to Parliament saying that the deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel mixture used in nuclear fusion produces four times as many high energy neutrons per kilowatt-hour of energy produced than sandard nuclear fission.

Council officers recommend approval for a nuclear fission reactor near Valero refinery (pictured)

Nevertheless the government has a concept programme called STEP, which is an ambitious programme for the conceptual design of a fusion power station. It is a UKAEA administered programme, currently with £220 million funding to produce a phase 1 concept design by 2024.

Beyond 2024, it is claimed, phase 2 intends to move into the engineering design and build phases to deliver the prototype of a commercially viable fusion plant. The prototype will hopefully demonstrate the commercial viability of fusion. The learning from this will enable the future development of a UK fleet of commercial fusion plants, the government said. The target date for the first fully operational plant will be 2040.

In November 2020, the UK Government released an open call to communities across the UK to identify sites that could accommodate a STEP power station, with the site near Valero being chosen.

A report to councillors sitting on the Cabinet states that unlike with conventional nuclear power, there is a benefit of limited risk of nuclear materials proliferation. This is because nuclear fusion doesn’t employ fissile materials like uranium and plutonium. There are no enriched materials in a fusion reactor that could be exploited to make nuclear weapons.

The STEP programme said that it seeks to maximise the recycling and re-use of materials and only use disposal routes where there is no other option.

It said to this end research is being carried out on suitable materials to minimise decay times as much as possible. Any radioactivity of the components in the tokamak structure is classed as low level and relatively short lived.
Fusion is regarded by Government as being carbon free, safe, low land use, low, manageable waste, reliable energy baseload with unlimited fuel.

What is nuclear fusion?

Fusion is the process that takes place in the heart of stars and provides the power that drives the universe. When light nuclei fuse to form a heavier nucleus, they release bursts of energy. This is the opposite of nuclear fission – the reaction that is used in nuclear power stations today – in which energy is released when a nucleus splits apart to form smaller nuclei.

To produce energy from fusion here on Earth, a combination of hydrogen gases – deuterium and tritium – are heated to very high temperatures (over 100 million degrees Celsius). The gas becomes a plasma and the nuclei combine to form a helium nucleus and a neutron, with a tiny fraction of the mass converted into ‘fusion’ energy. A plasma with millions of these reactions every second can provide a huge amount of energy from very small amounts of fuel.

One way to control the intensely hot plasma is to use powerful magnets. The most advanced device for this is the ‘tokamak’, a Russian word for a ring-shaped magnetic chamber. CCFE’s goal is to develop fusion reactors using the tokamak concept.

Advantages of fusion power

With increasing concerns over climate change and finite supplies of fossil fuels, we need new, better ways to meet our growing demand for energy. The benefits of fusion power make it an extremely attractive option:

  • No carbon emissions. The only by-products of fusion reactions are small amounts of helium, an inert gas which can be safely released without harming the environment.
  • Abundant fuels. Deuterium can be extracted from water and tritium will be produced inside the power station from lithium, an element abundant in the earth’s crust and seawater. Even with widespread adoption of fusion power stations, these fuel supplies would last for many thousands of years.
  • Energy efficiency. One kilogram of fusion fuel could provide the same amount of energy as 10 million kilograms of fossil fuel. A 1 Gigawatt fusion power station will need less than one tonne of fuel during a year’s operation.
  • Less radioactive waste than fission. There is no radioactive waste by-product from the fusion reaction. Only reactor components become radioactive; the level of activity depends on the structural materials used. Research is being carried out on suitable materials to minimise decay times as much as possible.
  • Safety. A large-scale nuclear accident is not possible in a fusion reactor. The amounts of fuel used in fusion devices are very small (about the weight of a postage stamp at any one time). Furthermore, as the fusion process is difficult to start and keep going, there is no risk of a runaway reaction which could lead to a meltdown.
  • Reliable power. Fusion power plants will be designed to produce a continuous supply of large amounts of electricity. Once established in the market, costs are predicted to be broadly similar to other energy sources.
Continue Reading

News

Graffiti damages area of scientific and historical interest in Pembrokeshire

Published

on

GRAFFITI painted on stones of historical and environmental importance at Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has caused environmental damage that could take decades to recover.

The white paint had blighted a Site of Special Scientific Interest at Carn Ingli, which is home to a diverse range of rocks, springs and scarce plants including lichens and rare damselfly coenagrion mercurial.

Staff from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority carried out the careful removal work taking every precaution not to cause further damage. They followed an NRW-approved method statement to minimise the risk of further damaging the lichen flora.

They attempted to remove the spray paint with wire brushing, but with limited success. They had to resort to the use a solvent, carefully catching the paint and solvent residue and removing it from the site, to prevent any further damage. Special care was also taken not to trample any important flora growing on the ground around the stone. 

Ross Grisbrook, Environment Officer, Natural Resources Wales, said: 

“Not only is graffiti illegal and unsightly, but can also be very damaging to the environment. An area that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest is somewhere that should be nurtured and respected.

“Graffiti can damage the lichen flora that grows on stones. Once damaged, they can take decades to recolonise because they are slow-growing.

“I would urge anyone tempted to do such a thing again to think about the impact it will have.”

Tomos Jones, Community Archaeologist, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said: 

“As a national park authority, part of our remit is to safeguard the special qualities that make up the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

“It is disheartening when graffiti appears that could damage scientifically important sites and their ecology, and also the setting of landscapes that are of historical significance.

“The removal of this particular graffiti proved challenging and required careful thought.

“We hope that this case highlights how damaging graffiti can be and also leads to its discouragement.” 

Report any sightings of graffiti to Dyfed-Powys Police online or by calling 101.

Continue Reading

News

New charity partnership represents a step into the wild

Published

on

Corgi will donate 20% of all sale proceeds of their Pembrokeshire Coast National Park collection of men’s and women’s socks to the Trust.

PEMBROKESHIRE COAST NATIONAL PARK TRUST is delighted to announce a new charity partnership with Corgi Socks, a Carmarthenshire-based family-run business that’s been specialising in handmade luxury socks and knitwear since 1892.

As part of this partnership, Corgi will donate 20% of all sale proceeds of their Pembrokeshire Coast National Park inspired collection of men’s and women’s socks to the Trust. The funds will enable the Trust to support the vital work of improving access to the great outdoors, boosting diversity and conservation, promoting outdoor learning and supporting jobs and skills.

Chris Jones, Corgi CEO, said: “With this beautiful iconic landscape right here on our company’s doorstep, it is a daily reminder of the importance of sustainability and environmental issues. We are delighted to support a charity helping to keep the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park special now, and for future generations.”

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust is dedicated to preserving all that is special and unique about the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park landscape for future generations to enjoy. Since the Trust was established in 2019, it has raised over £100,000 for projects in the National Park that support conservation, community, culture and the Pembrokeshire Coast. 

Corgi’s Pembrokeshire Coast inspired socks can be found at www.corgisocks.com/collections/protecting-pembrokeshire-coast-national-park, and a discount of 10% is available to those who sign up to the Corgi socks mailing list.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust is a charity registered by the UK Charity Commission. Its registered charity number is 1179281.

Continue Reading
Business60 mins ago

An experimental nuclear fusion reactor could be built in Pembrokeshire

PEMBROKESHIRE could be the location of an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, which could produce abundent clean energy, if the council...

News9 hours ago

Graffiti damages area of scientific and historical interest in Pembrokeshire

GRAFFITI painted on stones of historical and environmental importance at Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has caused environmental damage that could...

News1 day ago

Plaid’s Dafydd Llywelyn re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner

THE NEW Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed Powys Area has been announced. Incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, of Plaid Cymru...

News2 days ago

Mark Drakeford says: ‘Thank you Wales for going red’

LABOUR is staying in power in Wales after matching its best-ever Senedd election result. It won exactly half of the...

News3 days ago

Conservatives hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat

THE CONSERVATIVES have held on to their Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat despite Labour closing the gap. Sam Kurtz...

News3 days ago

Paul Davies re-elected as Conservatives hold Preseli Pembrokeshire

PAUL DAVIES has been re-elected to represent the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency. He won with 12,295 votes, while there were 10,895...

News3 days ago

Dyfed-Powys Police criticised for failing to record thousands of crimes

A SHOCKING new report says that Dyfed-Powys Police failed to record thousands of crimes, despite being told to improve two-and-a-half...

News5 days ago

Milford Haven: Mount estate death not being treated as suspicious say police

POLICE have confirmed that following a welfare visit to a property in Mount Estate, they discovered a male occupant, in...

Politics5 days ago

Pembrokeshire heads to the polls

THE ELECTIONS to the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru take place today, Thursday (May 6). Over the last few weeks, we’ve published...

News5 days ago

Milford Haven: Man arrested following suspicious flat fire in Robert Street

DYFED-POWYS POLICE have confirmed that the force is investigating a fire which occurred at a property in Lower Robert Street,...

Popular This Week