North West Wales

Porthmadog on anguish of Ffion Wyn Roberts murder

A tree growing on the banks of the drainage ditch is a permanent reminder of the spot where Ffion Wyn Roberts was found.

It was planted in the days after her body was discovered at the spot, called Y Cyt, not far from her home in Porthmadog, Gwynedd.

Flowers and soft toys were left by the tree, with carefully painted pebbles spelling out "Ffion Roberts our friend".

Porthmadog is small but bustling with many small shops, and is also familiar to narrow gauge railway enthusiasts.

The murder was a huge shock to a town which usually has a population of under 5,000, but where numbers are swollen during the tourist season.

More typical local concerns are the queues of traffic in the busy summer months, with a bypass now being built to tackle the problem.

Gwynedd county councillor Alwyn Gruffydd said that even 12 months on there was still an inability within the community to accept what had happened.

"I think it was unbelievable that something like this could happen in the close-knit, Welsh speaking, community," he said.

"That this sort of callous murder could happen in our community was beyond comprehension in the mind of many, many people in the town," he added.

He said he hoped the court case would bring "closure".

But he added: "I've got a feeling there is a strength of feeling out there, that things aren't gelling as they should, and it's going to take time to resolve."

The fact that the case involved local people made it more difficult to comprehend, he said.

Image caption There was incredulity in Porthmadog when Ffion Wyn Jones was killed

"There were no people from the outside involved in this.

"They were local people and it's been a terribly, terribly distraught time for the community," he said.

Underlying the closeness of the town, the 22-year-old had been a well-known face at the football club, helping out on match days in the canteen.

Phil Jones, the chairman of Porthmadog Football Club, described Ms Roberts as "very hard working, a very conscientious young girl... very likeable".

'Ordinary guy'

Mr Jones also runs a shop in the town and witnessed Iestyn Davies being arrested.

"Again, it was total shock because his name had not been mentioned as far as I know," he said.

"We weren't aware of his name being linked to the murder at all."

Image caption Porthmadog is a scenic town attractive to tourists, especially steam rail enthusiasts

It had not crossed his mind that Davies might be capable of "something like this", he added.

"To be honest he was just an ordinary working guy," he said.

When an inquest was opened into the death her family released a statement saying their lives had been "destroyed" and they were heartbroken.

Hundreds of people attended her funeral at Porthmadog's Salem chapel, many lining the streets of the town, where traffic was brought to a standstill.

Many shops in the town also closed as a sign of respect, again marking the fact that many in the town knew the victim personally.

Mr Jones said it would take a long time for the town to recover.

"Time is a great healer is a cliche, but it's true, but obviously for the family it's different," he said.

"It's going to hurt them for a long time, but hopefully the community can now start to regroup and (people can) get on with their lives, putting this behind them."

More on this story