Sunday, November 23, 2014

Did British cops put an innocent man in jail to protect one of their own?

The worst mass murder in South Wales criminal history was also the most grotesquely savage. First, the killer entered his victims’ home, went upstairs and smashed a heavy fibreglass pole repeatedly into the face of 80-year-old invalid grandmother Doris Dawson, rendering her utterly unrecognisable. And then he waited.

Just before midnight, Doris’s daughter Mandy Power arrived at the house with her children, Katie, ten, and Emily, eight. The murderer leapt upon all three, killing them in identical, sadistic fashion.

In a perverted twist, he then placed a sex device inside Mandy’s lifeless body. He set a fire to incinerate his traces, waiting for it to take hold. When it didn’t, he calmly started three further blazes.

The killings made national headlines and convulsed the village of Clydach, near Swansea – and not just for their macabre brutality. It rapidly emerged that bisexual Mandy’s sometime lover was a former woman police sergeant married to another, male, police officer – who was himself the identical twin brother of a local police inspector who had gone on a mysterious ‘lone patrol’ on the night of the murders and was the first senior officer at the bloody scene the next morning.

Then, sensationally, all three police officers were arrested and repeatedly interviewed – Mandy’s lover and her husband on suspicion of murder and his twin for allegedly trying to pervert the course of justice. However, none of them were charged and ultimately it was another suspect altogether who was tried and convicted.

Three years after the crimes – committed on the night of 26-27 June 1999 – builder David Morris, now 52, was handed four life sentences for killing Mandy, 34, and her family.

Morris is one of the few criminals in Britain who will almost certainly never be freed: Not because he was given a whole-life tariff, but because he still protests his innocence and so will not be considered for release.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal extraordinary new evidence which casts grave doubt on his conviction and is now the basis of his bid for a fresh appeal.

The first bombshell development centres on a crucial memo in the police HOLMES computer system. This document reveals that a police informant told detectives within hours of the crime that both Mandy and her family were being threatened before the murders because of her gay affair – and that those threats were made by Sergeant Stephen Lewis, the same police officer who was later arrested.

His then wife, Alison, was having the affair with Mandy, and later other witnesses told police that Lewis had discovered it – a claim he has always denied. By the time of Mandy’s death, Alison Lewis had left the force on grounds of stress but continued her career as a Welsh rugby star.

The jury at Morris’s trial never saw that HOLMES document. But inexplicably, a new version of it was manufactured by the police. In part, it read like the original – except it removed all references to Mandy’s affair and Stephen Lewis.

The original is revealed for the first time here. The startling differences beg the question: Why would police so comprehensively doctor such an apparently fundamental piece of evidence?

The other key breakthrough comes in documents showing that scientists found DNA from an unknown man on the murder weapon, on two spent matches used to start the fires and on the clothes worn by Mandy when she was killed.

Male DNA was also found on her watch, a present from Alison Lewis. The killer had placed this on her wrist after she was murdered.

And the significance of this DNA? None of it has ever been matched to the convicted killer. Its very existence was not mentioned at his trial. In fact, there is no forensic evidence that links him to the crime at all.

From the moment he was picked up, David Morris must have appeared an unlikely culprit.

True, he had a criminal record – but for car theft and a bag-snatch robbery in his teens. There was nothing in his past to suggest he was capable of slaughtering a family, and from the day of his arrest in 2001 he has protested his innocence.

Morris said he last saw Mandy Power two days before she was killed, when he bumped into her in the village. He was carrying a gold neck chain; it had a broken clasp and he was planning to get it fixed at the local jewellers. According to him, she invited him back to her house to have sex, but he forgot to collect the chain when he left.

The chain was soon found in Mandy’s house and, after the killings, Morris told his employer, Eric Williams, that it was his. He said he was worried it might be traced back to him. Williams told a friend about his conversation with Morris and, in turn, she informed the police. Morris was arrested.

Then came his big mistake: He lied to the police – panicking, he denied the chain was his. He later admitted that it was, shortly before his trial.

The prosecution claimed Morris, drunk and high on drugs, had gone on a murderous rampage because Mandy refused to have sex with him. Yet, as has been established, no match has been made between his DNA and that at the burnt-out house, and no witnesses said they saw him on the night of the murders.

Moreover, the killer’s vigil between the first murder and last three pointed to him acting in cold blood, rather than in a drug-fuelled rage.

In fact, Morris has been found guilty twice. The first time was in 2002. Three years later, the Court of Appeal quashed this conviction and ordered a retrial because, astonishingly, Morris and Stephen and Alison Lewis all had the same solicitor, so creating a conflict of interest that meant he could not have received a fair trial. At his second trial in 2006, he was convicted again. The judge recommended Morris serve at least 32 years.

Morris lost a further appeal in 2007. However, he found an unexpected champion – Brian Thornton, a senior lecturer on the journalism course at Winchester University.

‘I felt there was something about the case that wasn’t right,’ he told me. ‘I got the files from Morris’s former solicitors and started going through them – boxes and boxes of them. For the past five years, I’ve been working on it with my students.’

Thornton found thousands of pages of records taken from the police HOLMES computer system which had never emerged in court. As he dug more deeply, he realised that the unknown police officer who produced them had done something very peculiar.

The obvious thing to have done would have been simply to print out the various documents direct from HOLMES. But, instead and for unexplained reasons, an officer copied and pasted the text of each one into Notepad, a common Microsoft app.

This operation must have taken hundreds of hours. There is a big difference between HOLMES and Notepad. The text of HOLMES files cannot be changed, once data has been entered. However, as with any word processing programme, Notepad files can be altered.

It is not known whether the HOLMES documents were disclosed to the defence or why they did not regard the fuller version of the document as significant.

Here and there within the mass of paper were just a handful of original HOLMES documents. In a few cases, Thornton was able to compare the original HOLMES version with the later Notepad printout.

One document in particular had been severely edited, so that in the later, Notepad version, its original, apparently significant, meaning was totally obscured. The edited version of what was known as ‘Action 92’ – a logged record of an earlier ‘message’, known as ‘Message 23’ – said merely that there was a ‘source of information stating that Mandy Power [was] being threatened’. It made no mention of who made these alleged threats, or why.

But the original printout was far more detailed. It said that on the day following the discovery of the bodies, ‘Message 23’ came into the murder inquiry incident room. It came from a detective serving with the now-defunct National Crime Squad, who had been contacted by a registered informant.

It stated: ‘I’ve just been contacted by an informant who stated that he knew Mandy Power and she was gay, and that she has been drinking in Farmers PH [public house] Clydach. Informant stated 3 weeks ago he overheard conversation Mandy was having with 2 females who stated that her and her kids had been threatened by her current lover’s husband who was a police officer.’

According to a new submission to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the informant was a neighbour of Mandy’s, David ‘Pancho’ Powell. He later made a statement, which like the HOLMES documents, did not emerge at either trial. In this, he enlarged on his original allegation, saying Mandy had told him: ‘I’ve been threatened, me and my two girls.’

Powell’s statement added: ‘I questioned her as to the threats and she said… "This person has threatened to do us in". She definitely said "Do us in". I took that to mean to beat her and her daughters up. I advised her about going to the police, but she stated "I can’t". Mandy then went on to explain that she was involved in a relationship with another woman and that it was this woman’s partner who made the threats.’

Another witness, Mandy’s neighbour Louise Pugh, said at Morris’s first trial that, a few days before the murders, she heard Stephen Lewis shouting at Mandy outside her house, saying: ‘If you don’t keep away from my wife, I’m going to kill you.’ Interviewed by police after his arrest, Stephen at first denied the whole incident, but later admitted telling Mandy to stay away from his wife, but said it was a ‘joke’ he made because the two women were drunk, and that he and Alison later ‘had a little laugh about it’.

Morris’s dossier to the CCRC says his lawyers, Maslen Merchant and Francis FitzGibbon QC, are ‘extremely troubled’ that inquiries into the alleged threats were ‘abandoned for no apparent reason’. It adds: ‘In the case of Action 92, an attempt appears to have been made to sanitise the report of a threat that plainly related to Stephen Lewis.’

Thornton’s investigation found further significant new evidence – documents showing unknown male DNA all over the scene and on the murder weapon. Basic level DNA-testing revealed that all these items bore traces of cells from someone with a male, Y chromosome – presumably the murderer.

The obvious thing to have done was a further, more advanced test, known as Y-STR analysis, to identify the source of the Y chromosomes. This could have conclusively eliminated or incriminated either Morris or any other suspect. Morris’s appeal dossier states: ‘As the victims were all female, the presence of male DNA is highly significant.’

Inexplicably, however, no Y-STR tests were ever done on these items, and the possibility was never discussed in court. Yet other items from Mandy’s house, which did not bear signs of male DNA at all, were put through Y-STR testing. Inevitably, these tests revealed nothing.

There is a simple remedy, says the CCRC dossier: ‘To gather the samples and test them now, using the most up-to-date techniques.’ Morris himself has urged his lawyers to get the tests done, insisting he has nothing to fear.

Possibly the most bizarre aspect of the case involves Stephen Lewis’s identical twin brother – another police officer, Inspector Stuart Lewis, also a member of the South Wales police. He was the first senior officer to reach the scene of the murders and, like his brother, bore a striking resemblance to a photofit of a suspect seen in the area around the time of the killings.

Both Lewis brothers have always denied knowing anything about the murders or being involved in them. Both men also claimed they did not know of the lesbian relationship between Alison and Mandy.

But it is a matter of record that Stuart Lewis was investigated by Superintendent Alec Davies, acting on behalf of the Police Complaints Authority. His behaviour before and after the murders had been very strange. All night he was the most senior officer in the area on duty, but ‘could not remember’ where he was between midnight and 1.17am, when he was driving around alone in an unmarked police car, a red Peugeot.

Several witnesses said they saw a vehicle matching this description in Clydach at about the time Mandy and her family were killed. Mysteriously, it transpired the car log which should have recorded Lewis’s movements had ‘disappeared’.

Soon after dawn, he was called to the scene, where the fire brigade told him the fire had been started deliberately. It was clear from wounds on the victims’ bodies, which had been moved outside Mandy’s house, that they had been savagely murdered. Yet Lewis spent only a few minutes there and went off duty a short time later, without informing senior colleagues that this was a case of mass murder and arson.

Superintendent Davies said in his report, issued in 2000, that Inspector Lewis made false statements about ‘his actions at the scene and subsequently… I have no doubt that the entries in his statements are lies and designed to deliberately mislead. I believe that he is therefore guilty of attempting to pervert public justice contrary to common law’.

However, Superintendent Davies concluded there was little chance of proving this beyond reasonable doubt and Lewis was charged only with disciplinary offences. He was not demoted as a result and both brothers continued in their roles until retiring in recent years.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday tried unsuccessfully to contact the brothers through the force and through the local Police Federation. A force spokesman said that neither they nor the force could make any comment on the CCRC submission.

Inside his cell on B-wing at Long Lartin high security prison in Worcestershire, David Morris is an isolated figure. He works as a cleaner in the jail but refuses to undertake any of the ‘offending behaviour’ courses which he must pass to stand any chance of future release – because this would require him to admit his guilt. This means he is also denied privileges, such as a games console and daily access to the gym.

Last week, he was able to send a message to The Mail on Sunday. He said: ‘I’ve seen plenty of people who claim they’re not guilty do those courses and get moved to a lower security category. They’re on the road out. They say they’re lying to get released. I won’t do that. I’ll stay here for the rest of my life, if that’s what it takes, because I will not admit to something I didn’t do.’

Now his dossier will be considered by the CCRC, which has the power to order the DNA tests and, eventually, refer the case back to the Court of Appeal. The big question remains: if it is found Morris did not kill Mandy Power, Katie Power, Emily Power and Doris Dawson… then who did commit South Wales’s crime of the century?

Original report here

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