Detectives 'lied to murder trial': Court told brothers' convictions for sex shop killing relied on forged entries in police interview notebooks

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THREE murder squad detectives lied in court at the trial of two brothers accused of killing a sex shop manageress, a court was told today. yesterday.

They allegedly faked interview notes of an alleged confession that led to brothers Wayne and Paul Darvell being jailed for life for murdering 38-year-old Sandra Phillips. Before the court are former head of Swansea CID, Detective Chief Inspector Alun Thomas, 49, former head of Swansea CID; Detective Inspector Jeffrey Jones, 53; and Detective Constable Michael Collins, 45, who all gave their addresses at an earlier hearing as 'care off Swansea Central Police Station'. The three officers are all accused at Chester Crown Court with all deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. and DI Jones is also charged with denies forging a witness statement. They deny all the charges and their The trial is expected to last a month.

Mrs Helen Grindrod QC, prosecuting, for the prosecution, said at Chester Crown Court that the three officers were in the team investigating the murder of Mrs Phillips, who was found badly beaten, raped and strangled at the sex shop in Swansea sex shop on on 14 June 14, 1985. The next morning 24-year-old Wayne, 24, Darvell, and his brother Paul Darvell, 25, both unemployed and living in sheltered accommodation for the homeless in Swansea, were arrested the next day. DI Jones, who was then a detective sergeant, and DC Collins interviewed Wayne Darvell. Det Ch Insp Thomas, then a detective inspector, later took charge of the interviews. Wayne began to confessed to the killing, that afternoon, although his brother who was interviewed separately by other officers consistently denied any involvement. Four days later Both were charged with the murder. 'A very important part of the evidence was Wayne's confession. There was no forensic or scientific evidence,' said Mrs Grindrod said.

The three detectives all gave evidence at the trial in April 1986 at Swansea Crown Court which led to the brothers' convictions. The verdicts were later quashed. and both men were released. 'The Crown alleges that these officers forged entries in police note copy books and in . . . notebooks, created false contemporaneous notes and gave false evidence at the trial . . . about the time and circumstances in which these notes were made,' Mrs Grindrod said.

She claimed that police records at the police station showed one of the numbered copy notebooks was not issued to DC Collins until August 19, 1985 eight weeks after the day he claimed to have made notes in it of an interview. in it.

DI Jones had made a 153-page statement which should have been a copy of the 'contemporaneous' interview notes. But scientific tests using Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (Esda) proved that 18 pages or parts of pages had been re-written, some more than once and many out of sequence. Yet the 'contemporaneous' interview notes the officers referred to in court had matched word for word the final version of this altered statement.

'The truth and accuracy of Wayne's confession was very important for the prosecution case. Any suggestion that words were put into his mouth would leave it open to attack,' said Mrs Grindrod.

She said the Crown alleged that answers were suggested to Wayne and the notes of the interviews were altered to remove such matters.

Wayne undoubtedly made admissions and apparently a convincing confession, and the officers may genuinely believed they had the right man, but this was not a re-trial of the murder case, she added.

'Interference with the integrity of evidence to be presented at a trial strikes at the very heart of our system of justice. Police officers cannot, even if they believe at the time that they have the right man, massage the evidence so that the jury is induced into believing the same,' said Mrs Grindrod.

The trial resumes today.