South Wales police have been involved in several high profile cases of injustice, many involving confessions that were later found to be unreliable. They include:
- Wayne Darvell and his brother Paul were jailed for life for the 1985 murder of Swansea shop assistant Sandra Phillips. Wayne had a history of confessing to offences he could not have committed. The pair were cleared in 1992.
- The Cardiff Newsagent Three — Michael O’Brien, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall — were convicted in 1988 of murder and robbery. They were not released until a decade later.
A court heard evidence of a police officer handcuffing Darren Hall, then 18, to a hot radiator and denying him access to a solicitor. Even the prosecution’s own expert said Hall’s confession — which was later retracted — was “at risk of being unreliable”.
The Criminal Cases Review Body said South Wales police had shown a “systematic disregard” of proper procedure.
- In 1997 Annette Hewins and her niece Donna Clarke were jailed for an arson attack on a Merthyr Tydfil flat which left three people dead. The convictions were quashed within two years. Annette Hewins was pregnant when she was first jailed. Her son Joshua was taken from her when he was nine hours old.
“So many people have suffered wrongful convictions, the mental scars go deep. I have no respect for South Wales police. I hate every one of them,” she says.
“They targeted one person and built a case around them. They convinced themselves someone is guilty and ignored any evidence that pointed to others.
“That is a strong pattern with all the cases. Yet innocent people, and the victims’ families, have their lives ruined.”