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Monday, September 08, 2003

Swansea Sex Shop murder

I have been stewing about this for a few weeks and feel it is time to get it off my chest. An article on the front page of the South Wales Evening Post from 29 August brings back memories of the Swansea Sex shop murder in 1984. I remember this vividly, not just because it was a particularly brutal and nasty murder, but because one of the first things I was involved in when I was elected to the Council that year was the application to licence this sex shop. Although I voted in favour of the licence the Committee determined by one vote that it would not be granted. Nevertheless the shop is open to this day, effectively getting around the need to obtain a licence by reducing the percentage of its stock that relates to the sex trade. When the murder happened the then Chair of the Public Protection Committee, who had opposed the licence, claimed that her stance had been justified. I followed the proceedings of the trial of the Darvell brothers closely and was astonished that they were found guilty. I was less surprised when the Court of Appeal freed them in 1991. Now the Evening Post report that the case is to be reviewed and already it has been discovered that a bloody handprint was found at the murder scene. The blood group does not match the Darvell borthers. It has already been established that the Darvell brothers were the victims of sloppy police work in which officers were eager to get a quick result. However, the publication of this latest news indicates that the injustice goes beyond sloppy. Even in the bad old days of the 1980s surely the existence of a substantive and contradictory piece of evidence such as this should have caused the officers concerned to pause and question the course of action on which they were engaged. There must be a full public explanation as to why this evidence was not taken into account at the time, an oversight that has meant that a murderer has been at large unchecked and unpunished in our community for nearly 20 years.

News today that another 3,000 British troops are to be sent to Iraq. In addition, George W. Bush is calling for more money and a committment from the United Nations to rebuild the country. Funny how he only pays attention to the UN when it suits him. This misconceived and unnecessary war has already cost enough lives. Now we have an effective admission that what we had already suspected is in fact correct, Bush and Blair committed us to war without any idea of what to do once they had won and without a proper assessment of the post-war scenario. We are paying the price for that act now and we will continue to do so for some time to come.

Hi Peter,

I read your post with interest and I would like you to clarify some points.

As you say you remeber the day vividly in 1984. The day was Friday 14th June 1985 not 1984.
can I ask are you using this date as you read it in the evening post who have repeatedly reported the date wrong.

Having the public protection chair person feel vindicated on her previous objections can I ask what action was taken to ensure lone females are protected in the work place?
I'm sure if we walked into the shop toda ythere will be no form of CCTV or protection yet the public protection comittee objected to the shop but takes no action in the light of this horrific crime.

I look forward to any comments you may have

Best Regards

Paul Grace
Yes, you are right. I took the date from the Evening Post. I remember the events of the day but clearly not the date itself.

I do not know what action was taken as I was not Chair of the Public Protection Committee at the time and in any case the sort of action needed to protect women more widely in their place of work is beyond the Council's remit.

The shop remains unlicensed as far as I am aware and so the Council has no control over its internal environment if, indeed, licensing offers such control, which I doubt. The responsibility for CCTV and other protection there rests with its owners, as it does in all other commercial premises.
Hi Peter,
Thank you for the responce.

I'm concerned that you clealry felt strongly about this as you wanted to get it off your chest.
Even though you voted for the licence to be granted it was refused but since the murder can I ask what you have done as an AM to ensure things like this can not happen again. Surley there must be something more you can do other than post on a blog.

Can I ask what role the council has in the Health & Safety at work acts to ensure the acts is followed correctly?

Paul Grace
Sandra's 3rd son
Health and Safety at work acts are enforced by the health and safety executive not the Council. I am not sure what practical steps the Assembly can take to prevent what appears to be a brutal but random murder repeating itself. If you wish to make some suggestions then please e-mail me directly.
Hi Peter,

I just curious that given you objected to the shop and yet its still there with no planning permission. It makes a mockery of local laws?
Additionally what is the need of the assembly of Wales if it can not take measure to prevent crime of this kind?

Also the HSE's own website states that local authoritoes work in shops etc for the HSE. From my stand point I see a shop that has no permission but no action taken. A member of the assembly of Wales advising that he's not sure what the assembly can do to protect people in the work place or put in place measures to stop this happening.

Here's the point...You state in your blog permission what not granted..What did you do to close the shop? What action did you take...your blog seems to slope responsibility and push blame to the police. Agreed they are far from blameless but I find it offencive you point the finger to the police but take no ownership of anythng you or the council could have done.

So... full pubilc explaination must be carried out? As an AM what are you doing to make this happen?


The shop has planning permission, it just does not have a license. It has got around the need for a license by the mix of goods it sells. There was nothing the Council could have done to have prevented the appalling murder that took place there.
end of story brushed under the carpet no matter what the job is no one should die some one did it sorry for the loss mother is still gone
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