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Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 18:49 GMT
Sex shop murder case reopened
Paul and Wayne Darvell
Paul and Wayne Darvell were wrongly convicted of murder
An investigation into the brutal killing of a sex shop manager in south Wales 17 years ago is being reopened by police.

Sandra Phillips, 38, was beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted at the Private Shop in Swansea where she worked.

The mother-of-four's body and part of the shop were doused in petrol but not set alight during the attack in June 1985.

Private Shop, Swansea, in 1985
Sandra Phillips was killed at the Private Shop
Paul Darvell and his brother Wayne, who were aged 25 and 24 at the time, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime but were freed by the Court of Appeal in 1992.

Investigators admitted that "evidence" from Wayne Darvell had been doctored and other evidence supressed.

Appeal judges said the convictions were "unsafe and unsatisfactory" because the prosecution evidence was doubtful.

They had heard that police notebooks had been altered to make it appear that Wayne Darvell had volunteered information rather than agreeing with police officers.

The court also heard he had a history of confessing to things he had not done.

The BBC's investigative programme Rough Justice championed the cause of the brothers, who had denied any involvement in the crime.

Wayne Darvell
Wayne Darvell was freed on appeal
Following their release, they were awarded 80,000 in compensation each for the seven years they spent in prison.

Officers involved in the initial investigation were later disciplined over the handling of the case after an inquiry by a different police force.

South Wales Police are now to review the case.

The review will be lead by Albert Kirby, the former head of Merseyside CID who led the investigation into the death of toddler James Bulger.

The inquiry will use new forensic techniques and is expected to centre on a bloody handprint which was not that of the murdered woman or the Darvell brothers.

The case is fifth unsolved crime to be reviewed by South Wales Police in the past three years.

They began by looking again at the murder of Cardiff prostitue Lynette White on St Valentine's Day in 1988.

Dick Williams, Sandra Phillips's brother, said: "We welcome the review if it helps to identify who murdered Sandra."

Detective Superintendent John Kerr from South Wales Police said: "The murder of Sandra Phillips remains unsolved and the review will focus on developments within the scientific world and developments in investigative techniques."

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Rebecca John
"Evidence from the crime scene has been preserved"
See also:

20 Dec 99 | Wales
04 Jul 02 | Breakfast
Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


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