Village reacts to new developments in multiple murders investigation

It clings to the mountainside six miles from Swansea, sitting above the rich seams of coal which made the valley the powerhouse of the industrial revolution.

Smoke still winds from the chimneys of the Mond nickel refinery, but the mines have long gone; the miles of canals on which boats once shuttled between them and the docks at the mouth of the Tawe have mostly disappeared, though volunteers continue to restore large stretches.

It is unpretentious and unsung, a short step away from being bucolic.

Yet, 21 years ago, Clydach was suddenly thrust into nationwide consciousness in the most horrific of ways.

The murders of Mandy Power, her 80-year-old mother Doris Dawson, and Mandy’s children Katie, aged 10, and Emily, aged eight, have been described as some of the most brutal ever seen in Wales.

The family were beaten to death at the family home in Kelvin Road, the property then set on fire.

In 2006, a local man, David Morris, said to have been involved in a relationship with Mandy, was found guilty of their murders for a second time – his first conviction having been quashed on appeal.

Mandy’s family believe the verdict was the right one, yet over recent years family and friends have stepped up a campaign to have the case against Morris reviewed.

Clydach clings to the side of the Swansea Valley
(Image: Adrian White Photography)
Mandy Power, her daughters Katie and Emily, and grandmother mother Doris
(Image: PA)

This week South Wales Police confirmed it had spoken to two potential new witnesses from the night of the killings.

It comes after a book published last year, and a BBC documentary broadcast last month, which both raised questions about the case against the former labourer.

In the programme, a former taxi driver told how he had been driving up Vadre Road, close to the family home in Kelvin Road, on the night the Power family were killed.

He claimed he spotted two men and called Swansea Central police station on two occasions over a fortnight and was told on each occasion he would be contacted by the team investigating the murders, but claimed he never was.

A second man, John Allen, also came forward to say he saw a man carrying a bundle that night, close to Kelvin Road, at around 4am. He claimed he saw the same man two years later in a local supermarket.

South Wales Police said they had now spoken to both men, and were considering the information provided, to determine their next course of action.

While Morris’s supporters continue to wage their fight, for many in the village, the activity has stirred unwelcome memories.

Clydach councillor Gordon Walker was working as a fireman at the time of the murders.

Clydach councillor Gordon Walker said the family of Mandy Power believed the right man was convicted for the murders
(Image: Adrian White Photography)
(Image: Adrian White Photography)

“A lot of sad memories have been brought back lately,” he said. “I didn’t attend the fire at the house, but I helped to clean the firefighting equipment afterwards.

“A lot of the boys who worked on it were affected by it very badly.

“I knew Mandy, and she was a lovely girl. The whole family have been very upset by everything being brought up again lately. They believe it was the right man who was convicted”.

At the time of the murders on June 27, 1999, Mr Walker’s daughter had been working at The New Inn, the village pub where she served Dai Morris food the night before Mandy Power and her family were killed.

Ieuan Jones is the current landlord of The New Inn, the pub where Dai Morris was drinking the night before Mandy Power and her family were killed
(Image: Adrian White Photography)

Its current landlord, Ieuan Jones, said: “It was a tragedy, but I think a lot of people in the village now think leave it go. There is so much going on in the world, I think many wonder why it is being dragged up.

“Unless there is some solid evidence to say categorically one way or the other it is difficult to see how things could change. I’m not sure anything brought up since has backed things up, but that is one for the police”.

The population of Clydach is little over 7,000, so many people know each other, their lives are intertwined, and they know members of each of the families involved.

It is no surprise on the village high street people are reluctant to talk about it.

One shop worker’s reaction was typical.

He said: “No-one here will say anything if you ask. It was a total tragedy, but I know members of both families and I wouldn’t want to say anything that would cause division”.

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Another common response from shoppers is ‘let it go’.

But one, Gwilym Thomas, added: “I have my doubts about the investigation. I’ve read the book, and it makes me think it’s a fifty-fifty situation. What is needed is proper DNA evidence. The whole episode still hangs over the village.

“With everything they have been through, the family needs closure, but there are still questions”.

Former mayor of Swansea, Ioan Richard sat through much of Morris’s trial.

Many in Clydach just don’t want to talk about the murders
(Image: Adrian White Photography)
Former Mayor of Swansea Ioan Richard sat through part of Dai Morris’s trial
(Image: Adrian White Photography)

“With another former councillor, Sylvia Lewis, I sat through every second of the judge’s summing up,” he said.

“Is someone saying 21 years ago they saw someone on the mountainside and that is compelling new evidence?

“Both families have their opinions, different opinions, and I have my own”.

Recent speculation over the safety of the convictions led Michael Power, father of Katie and Emily to break his 21-year silence over the death of his daughters and former wife and mother-in-law.

He reiterated the family’s belief the right man was behind bars.

But the Free Dai Morris campaign believes South Wales Police’s announcement they have spoken to two potential new witnesses who featured in the BBC documentary is a positive development for their fight.

The campaign to free Dai Morris has become more high profile in recent years
(Image: Morris family)

A campaign spokesman said: “We are happy to hear SWP have finally spoken to these witnesses, though saddened it has taken them 20 years and a BBC documentary.

“If South Wales Police truly want to leave no stone unturned, they need to allow David’s legal team access to the evidence for a thorough forensic examination to take place prior to a new CCRC submission.”

CCRC is short for Criminal Cases Review Commission, the independent body which looks into claims of miscarriages of justice. It rules in 2017 and 2018 that it was not minded to refer Morris’s case for review.

The campaign spokesman added: “We can confirm a request has been submitted today to the chief constable of South Wales Police requesting such access (to the evidence). Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael has also been made aware of this request.

“This documentary highlighted just how important this evidence is for the case. This case should have been investigated by another police force.

“We believe South Wales Police should also refer itsself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for the way they have handled this case.

“Our campaign is growing daily, and we will not give up the fight to prove David Morris is innocent of these heinous crimes”.

South Wales Police this week repeated the fact that David Morris had been convicted twice by jury, and that the CCRC had decided ‘no new evidence has been identified’, despite confirming its conversations with potential witnesses.

Both the CCRC and the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have been asked for comment.

Today, Kelvin Road is once again a quiet suburban street
(Image: Adrian White Photography)

In the meantime, Kelvin Road has returned to what it always should have remained; a quiet, suburban street.

The coronavirus pandemic means there are fewer children playing outside, but the houses are pretty and well kept.

People stroll around the neighbourhood and dogs are taken for their regular walks.

Life is going on as it always has, but the devastating events of one night in June, 21 years ago are still casting a shadow over the village, that stubbornly refuses to move.

WalesOnline – Swansea