South East Wales

Cannibal's family 'shock' over Argoed deaths

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Media captionOfficers found Matthew Williams attacking Cerys Yemm at the hostel

The family of a man suspected of murdering a 22-year-old woman in an act of cannibalism says it is in "shock".

Relatives of Matthew Williams, found attacking Cerys Marie Yemm at a homeless hostel in Argoed, near Blackwood, said they were "devastated by the death of an innocent young lady".

Gwent Police stunned Williams, 34, with a Taser but he later died.

Sources have confirmed Ms Yemm suffered substantial facial injuries.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating.

"Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the victim, her family and friends," the family said.

"Words cannot express our grief."

It is understood Williams had been released from prison two to three months ago after serving around half of a five year sentence for assaulting a former girlfriend.

Before that, he had been convicted of a burglary offence.

The IPCC said Williams had been formally identified and confirmed he had been a resident at the Sirhowy Arms hostel.

It was there on Thursday that police found him attacking Ms Yemm.

'Speculative comments unhelpful'

Gwent Police said a lone female officer initially responded to the attack.

Ch Insp Paul Staniforth told reporters on Friday Ms Yemm's family is being supported by officers.

He also said the female officer and others who later attended were being supported by the force's occupational health department.

"The post mortem for Cerys will start today, although may not be complete for some time," he added.

"Speculative comments about what happened and cause of death are unhelpful."

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Media captionMatthew Williams became unresponsive after he was Tasered by an officer, Ch Insp Paul Staniforth said
Image caption The cordon has been scaled back, but police remained at the scene on Friday

Police said Williams, who lived at the halfway house, and Ms Yemm knew each other and they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the murder.

Tributes have started to be paid to Ms Yemm, who worked in sales at Next and was formerly a student of Coleg Gwent between 2008 and April 2009. She had been studying health and social care.

Principal Jim Bennett said: "We would like to send our deepest sympathy and condolences to Cerys's family, friends and loved ones."

Gareth Griffiths, from Argoed, said: "It's not a massive village, everyone wants to know what's happened. Everyone who doesn't want the place to be there thinks it's ammunition to use against the council to get it moved or shifted... it must be a horrific way to die, it's horrible, it's unbearable."

Image caption Flowers have been left outside the hotel where the victim was killed

'Grotesque'

IPCC Commissioner for Wales Jan Williams said: "I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families of the deceased at this sad and difficult time.

"Our investigators are gathering all relevant evidence to understand the full circumstances of what happened."

BBC Wales reporter Natalie Crockett in Argoed

Police vans and TV satellite trucks continue to line what was, until 24 hours ago, a quiet residential street in the centre of the small village.

Now, red and white tape cordons off part of the pavement outside the hostel at the centre of a murder investigation. An officer stands guard at the doorway.

On the ground lies flowers and a note addressed to the building's residents. Scenes of crime officers move in and out of the building, while those who still live there try to get on with their day-to-day business, making use of a back entrance.

Neighbours have continued to speak of their shock at what happened here in the early hours of Thursday.

One described the killing as "horrific", while a woman said their worst fears about the hostel had come true.

"We knew there was going to be problems when it was opened," she said.

"But until yesterday it was nowhere as bad as we thought it would be. Now it is as bad as we thought - and worse.

"The whole thing is horrible."

Argoed councillor Garry Lewis described the nature of the killing as "grotesque".

Baptist chapel secretary June Trace said the Sirhowy Arms was converted into accommodation for vulnerable people several years ago.

She said it had a "fluctuating population" with people aged in their 30s or 40s.

Despite some concerns she said there had never been any trouble there.

However, others have said the police have been called on occasions.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image copyright Wales News Service
Image copyright Wales News Service

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