Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 12:46 UK

Sex shop murder probe draws blank

Sandra Phillips
Sandra Phillips' killer has not been found by the reinvestigation

Officers reinvestigating the 1985 murder of Sandra Phillips in Swansea say they have exhausted all lines of inquiry but not found her killer.

South Wales Police has apologised to the family for the shortcomings of the original investigation.

Ms Phillips, 37, was beaten and strangled at the sex shop she managed.

Neath brothers Wayne and Paul Darvell were wrongly convicted of the murder and spent seven years in prison before being released in 1992.

Mother-of-four Ms Phillips' body, which had been doused in petrol, was found inside the locked shop in Swansea city centre in June 1985.

South Wales Police reviewed the case in 2002, led by Albert Kirby, the former head of Merseyside CID who led the investigation into the death of toddler James Bulger.

A reinvestigation of the murder began in 2004 and an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme led to new information about people who went to the shop on the day of the killing.

It is important to stress an investigation is never completely closed and any new information which is received will be fully investigated and the enquiry will be revisited periodically
Detective Superintendent Paul Burke

South Wales Police said it had now completed the recommendations made by Albert Kirby, a Queen's Police Medal holder, following his independent review of the case.

It said members of Sandra Phillips' family and an independent advisory group, which was set up during the original review to overlook the investigation, had been updated on all the lines of inquiry and forensic opportunities.

In a statement, the force said it "remained fully committed in attempting to bring those responsible for her murder to justice".

It added: "But sadly, despite those efforts, those responsible for her death have not been identified."

Picture of Private Shop, Swansea
The mother-of-four's body was doused with petrol inside the shop

The statement said that since 1985 there had been "significant changes in the way serious criminal offences are investigated and reviewed by the force".

Detective Superintendent Paul Burke said: "It is important to stress an investigation is never completely closed and any new information which is received will be fully investigated and the inquiry will be revisited periodically.

"This news will obviously be upsetting for Sandra Phillips' family and come as a disappointment for the Swansea community.

"We would like to thank those people who responded to our previous appeals and thank the media for their continued support in this investigation."


Shortly after the killing, unemployed brothers Paul and Wayne Darvell, who had lived rough and in hostels in the area, were jailed for the murder.

In 1992, the appeal court ruled their convictions were "unsafe and unsatisfactory" after being told that that the brothers had a history of confessing to things they had not done and that a police notebook had been altered.

After their release, each was later awarded £80,000 in compensation for the time they had spent in prison.

In March 2005, Paul Darvell, 42, was found dead at his home in Neath in what police considered a non-suspicious death.

Print Sponsor

Police forensic super unit opens
17 Jun 05 |  Wales
Sex shop murder customer appeal
11 Apr 06 |  South West Wales
100 call sex shop murder appeal
06 Oct 05 |  South West Wales
Family's hopes over new inquiry
13 Jun 05 |  South West Wales
Police revisit shop murder scene
13 Jun 05 |  South West Wales
Wrongly-jailed brother found dead
21 Mar 05 |  South West Wales
Sex shop murder case reopened
31 Oct 02 |  Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific