Clydach murders: Police officer breaks 22-year silence to say ‘flawed’ investigation has ruined his life

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Former Inspector Stuart Lewis was held in a cell for four days and says the way his own force dealt with the murder inquiry has ruined his life

An ex-police officer has claimed his own force botched a murder inquiry – leading to unfounded rumours his family was involved in the killings of a mother, her two little girls and their grandmother.

Former Inspector Stuart Lewis was held in a cell for four days, interviewed 26 times and suspended for four years after being arrested in connection with one of the worst crimes in British legal history.

Mandy Power, 34, her daughters Katie, 10, and Emily, eight, and her mother Doris Dawson, 80, were found bludgeoned to death and their house set on fire in 1999. The finger of suspicion fell on Stuart Lewis, his police officer brother Steve and Steve’s wife Alison Lewis, who was having an affair with Mandy. Alison and Steve were arrested on suspicion of murder, and Stuart on perverting the course of justice but all three were later cleared.

And, despite a local labourer being later convicted of the murders, they still have to deal with the fact that some locals in Clydach, near Swansea, still believe they are responsible for wiping out three generations of the same family. You can read here how the shadow of the horrific crime has refused to life from the village.

Now for the first time in 22 years, Stuart Lewis has spoken about the ordeal that has ruined his life, as The Mirror reports.

Speaking on the biggest murder inquiry in South Wales’ history, he said: “I was a serving police officer 22 years ago, who was wrongfully arrested for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. I was remanded in custody for four days, interviewed on 26 occasions and suspended for four years.”

In a statement given exclusively to the Mirror, Stuart says he believes police officers made a catalogue of errors – fuelling speculation his family was responsible for the tragedy. He said: “The evidence identified at the outset to exonerate myself was lost, unobtainable, or destroyed. It is tragic that all involved in this high profile investigation were let down by a litany of mistakes and unprofessionalism. These failures have resulted in constant speculation of the safety of the conviction.”

Stuart studied for a law degree while suspended and returned to his duties with South Wales Police when all disciplinary matters against him were dropped. But the doubt surrounding the case means Stuart and his wife can’t go out to a local restaurant without people pointing and sometimes verbally accusing him of involvement in the murders. Just a month ago Stuart was kicked out of his local gym after a member complained about him being there.

After leaving the force he has been unable to find work because employers Google his name and discover he was linked to the Clydach murder probe. He said: “It is too late to fully exonerate my name. The damage has been done. The negative impact on myself and my family over the last 22 years has been severe and long lasting. Many will still believe there is no smoke without fire.”

Stuart spoke out on the eve of the launch of Murder in the Valleys, a Sky Crime TV documentary probing the murders and the police investigation.

His lawyer, leading QC Narita Bahra, said: “There are no winners in this tragic case, there are insufficient sticking plasters to make this investigation complete and speculation still continues 22 years after an innocent family were murdered in their home. The police investigation was flawed from the outset, which resulted in [Stuart’s] reputation and life being destroyed.”

Labourer David Morris, also known as Dai, was twice convicted of the multiple killings but his family have maintained his innocence and continue to fight to clear his name after he died in prison aged 59 last August. Morris was serving a 32-year sentence for bludgeoning Mandy, her daughters and her mother to death at their home in Kelvin Road, Clydach in June 1999. Many people lined the streets for his funeral — you can see the pictures here.

Just weeks after he died police released fresh forensic DNA evidence linking Morris to a bloodstained sock found at the murder scene. Morris’s family and supporters dismissed the new evidence as “nonsense”, and said their fight to clear his name will go on. Morris’ sister and aunt spoke with WalesOnline in September 2021 — you can read the interview here.

Alison Lewis, who along with her husband Steve was arrested on suspicion of the murders, said she understands his family fighting for justice for him. She told the four-part TV documentary: “Who would want to believe that somebody in their family is capable of that? I completely understand it but what I didn’t understand is why it was always put onto us.”

The Lewis family claims to have received more than 400 threats from supporters of the Free David Morris campaign. Ex-police officer Alison said: “These people aren’t interested in the truth, all they want to do is slam South Wales Police and say it’s a conspiracy. But no one has ever said what evidence there is against me, Stephen and Stuart, apart from hearsay, gossip, rumours and lies. Not one of them has got one piece of evidence.

“How has this happened, and 22 years later I’m still sat here, defending myself, telling people that I’m not a murderer, when all I wanted to do was love her? Mandy was always kind, loving, tried to do her best all the time, and enjoyed her life and her children. She had so much to give and so much to live for. There hasn’t been a day when I haven’t missed her. I loved being with her and everything about her made me happy.”

The tight-knit community of Clydach is still divided over who beat the family to death with a metal pole before setting their home on fire in the early hours, despite the conviction of Morris.

Some locals still buy into the debunked theory that a former police woman, her husband and his twin brother carried out the killings. But retired Detective Supt Martin Lloyd Evans, who led the investigation, is 100% sure South Wales Police got the right man. He told the TV documentary: “I have no doubt at all that David Morris is the killer. No doubt at all. This case has been looked at and looked at and explored. I am puzzled why people can’t see Morris for what he is. Can you imagine anybody saying ‘I am the monster that did this’? That is never going to happen”.

Assistant Chief Constable David Thorne, of South Wales Police, said: “South Wales Police has shown a commitment to providing evidence-based answers to the issues which have been raised about this case over many years. This commitment resulted in a forensic link between the convicted killer David Morris and an item of great significance which was recovered from the murder scene. South Wales Police commissioned a review in the hope that we could in some way provide closure for those most affected by the murders.

“In particular, those who lost three generations of the same family and have had to revisit those painful memories time and time again over the last two decades. We have already shared the findings from Operation Dolomite with the Criminal Cases Review Commission to complete the due process and demonstrate transparency.

“However, in the knowledge of the conclusions drawn from this review, South Wales Police would like to show respect to the family and those affected by these terrible crimes by finalising this case. Our thoughts as ever remain with the family of Mandy Power, her children Katie, aged 10, and Emily, eight, and her 80-year-old mother Doris, who still experience such painful memories even to this day.”

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