The questions surrounding the Clydach murders that need answering

It was a crime so brutal it still casts a shadow over the quiet Swansea Valley village where it took place.

An entire family was murdered in their own home, which was then set on fire in an apparent attempt to destroy any evidence.

Mandy Power, aged 34, her two daughters, Katie aged 10, and Emily aged eight, and Mandy’s 80-year-old mother, Doris Dawson, died at the property in Kelvin Road in Clydach in June, 1999.

Their slaughter prompted one of the biggest murder investigations ever by a Welsh Police Force.

The investigation led eventually to the conviction of local man David Morris, not once but twice; firstly at Swansea Crown Court in 2002, a verdict which was overturned on appeal, before he was subsequently convicted again following a retrial at Newport Crown Court in 2006.

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Morris said he had been in a sexual relationship with Ms Power but has always maintained his innocence.

A bid to take his case to the Court of Appeal was rejected as recently as 2018 by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

But this week South Wales Police made a startling announcement – they are to appoint a senior officer and forensic expert to take a look at fresh claims raised by lawyers for Morris.

The confirmation follows a BBC documentary aired last October, which identified two potential new witnesses to events on the night the family were killed, and also raised questions over forensic evidence.

David Morris, who was twice convicted of the crimes
(Image: Morris family)
Dai Morris’s daughters Laura Morris-Dobbs and Janiene Morris pictured at a rally in Castle Square in 2019 protesting his innocence
(Image: Jonathan Myers)

South Wales Police reiterated its confidence in Morris’s conviction this week, but a spokesman added: “In November, 2020, legal representatives of David Morris contacted South Wales Police requesting the release of various exhibits from the investigation for further assessment by their forensic scientists.

“This request has been the subject of careful consideration and the force has decided on a proportionate course of action, which will involve the appointment of an independent senior investigating officer and an independent forensic scientist to oversee a forensic review of the specific areas referred to by Morris’s legal representatives.

“The decision to carry out a forensic review does not constitute a re-opening or re-investigation of the murders, nor does it demonstrate any lack of confidence in the conviction of Morris and the subsequent case reviews”.

An independent senior investigating officer from an outside force and an independent forensic scientist will examine the claims by Morris’s lawyers, including fresh forensic examination of items previously examined by the Criminal Cases Review Commission during its reviews.

Following their review, they will make recommendations based on their findings.

These are some of the issues surrounding the case, some of which might feature in the review.

The question of timing

Dai Morris had been drinking at The New Inn in Craig Cefn Parc on the night of the murder, where he had drunk around eight pints, and taken amphetamine. Mandy Power arrived home with her two daughters just before midnight, having been babysitting.

Evidence suggested Doris had been killed first, and that a light bulb had caused the electics in the house to fuse, but the killer had gone downstairs to repair the fuse.

Morris was said by witnesses to have left the pub at 11.30pm.

Lawyers for Morris suggested he would not have had enough time to walk the 15 minutes to Kelvin Road from the pub, murder Doris and change the fuse before Mandy arrived home with her daughters at around ten minutes to midnight.

Mandy Power with daughters Katie and Emily
(Image: PA)
Doris Dawson

The fuse box

There are questions over whether someone who was angry, drunk and high on drugs would have been able to calmly and methodically repair a fuse box.

The visitor?

A neighbour said they heard a car pull up outside Kelvin Road on the evening of the murder, and someone entered the property and turned on lights enabling the neighbour to see the shape of a person’s head. Despite a police appeal for the man and driver, no-one was ever identified.

The wristwatch

After Mandy was killed she was defiled, her body washed in a bath, and a watch may have then been placed on her wrist. Was that the action of someone drunk and high on drugs? This is another question that has been raised about the case.

The man ‘carrying a bundle’ and the men seen near Kelvin Road

A former taxi driver claimed he remembered seeing two men in Clydach after dropping off a fare in the early hours. He said he believed he later saw pictures of them in a newspaper. He claimed he told police but was not interviewed and did not give evidence at either trial. In addition, a woman driving home from work also claimed she identified a man in Gellionnen Road, near Kelvin Road, carrying a bundle, in the early hours. She picked the man out at an identity parade and and e-fit was produced but not released to the public. She did give evidence at the trial however. Another man also reported seeing a man carrying a bundle near Kelvin Road.

The gold chain

A gold chain covered in blood was recovered from one of the bedrooms which prosecutors said had been pulled from Morris’s neck during a struggle. But analysis of the chain suggested there was no damage to it to suggest it was pulled from the neck. The chain only had DNA from Mandy Power on it.

The handprint

An expert has argued that an impression of Dai Morris’s handprint does not match that of one found on the carpet of the living room floor.

The white sports sock

A white sports sock was recovered from the house covered in blood, and it is thought it was worn as a glove. A sample was taken from the inside of the sock to test for DNA, but it has been suggested that the blood stain pointed to the sock having been worn inside out. Further testing on the other side of the sock could yet recover a DNA sample, it is claimed.

The metal pole

A partial male DNA sample, identity unknown, was recovered from the murder weapon – a metal pole. Forensic experts have suggested testing the centre of the pole, along with further tests on the DNA sample.

Profile of a killer

Neither jury knew police had four separate profiles of the killer, and Morris didn’t fit the profile in one report. The other three are not available to the current defence team, and it is not known if Morris fitted any of the other profiles.

Public Interest Immunity

The investigation took more than 4,500 statements, received 1,500 messages from members of the public to the incident room, and more than 3,700 exhibits were seized for examination. But it has been claimed that much was not made available to the defence team. Public Interest Immunity was used by the prosecution, which enables it to suppress relevant material in a trial, which helps the prosecution and suppresses the defence. PPI are usually used in cases of national security.

What next?

A view of Clydach
(Image: Adrian White Photography)
The road where the crimes took place
(Image: Adrian White Photography)

The tragedy still hangs a long shadow over the small Swansea Valley village.

Front and centre of the tragedy are the family of the victims. The former husband of Mandy Power, and father of their two children, broke a 21-year silence ahead of last year’s documentary to say Morris’s trial verdict was ‘the right one’.

But on the other side of the case are the family of the man convicted for the killings who believe he is innocent of the crimes.

Both must now wait for the conclusion of the independent review, and the next twist or cul-de-sac in the case of the murder of three generations of the same family that is still raising unanswered questions more than two decades on.

WalesOnline – Swansea