Detective leads 1988 trial evidence inquiries

Image caption,
Michael O'Brien and two others had their murder convictions quashed

A Norfolk detective is to lead two separate investigations into complaints by a man wrongfully convicted of a 1987 murder in Cardiff.

Michael O'Brien spent 11 years in jail before he was cleared of killing newsagent Philip Saunders, 52.

He alleges evidence was fabricated by police in the murder investigation.

Det Supt Chris Hobley will lead both a South Wales Police (SWP) inquiry and one by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Mr Saunders who ran the newspaper kiosk in Cardiff central bus station was attacked by robbers outside his home in Canton area in October 1987.

He died five days later in hospital.

Mr O'Brien and two other men, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood, were jailed for life in 1988 for the murder, but were freed in 1999 after their convictions were quashed at the appeal court.

South Wales Police has started a criminal investigation into complaints about the evidence provided at the original trial.

IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said he thought the investigations were going to be "very difficult for all those affected".

He said: "Miscarriages of justice strike at the heart of public confidence and these are very serious complaints [Mr O'Brien] has made.

"I have met with Mr O'Brien and his legal representative, and this meeting was also attended by Superintendent Hobley and South Wales Police to explain how Mr O'Brien's complaints are to be investigated.

"We also explained why there are two separate investigations by the IPCC and SWP.

"The three complaints from Mr O'Brien that are being investigated relate to alleged fabrication of evidence by the police during the investigation into the tragic murder of Mr Saunders.

Image caption,
Philip Saunders died in hospital five days after he was attacked and robbed

"These complaints require proper answers and the public in Wales need to have confidence that Mr O'Brien's complaints have been fully investigated with independent scrutiny.

Mr Davies said there was "merit" in having the same investigating officer in charge of both investigations.

He added: "My thoughts are also with the family and friends of Mr Saunders today and we have contacted Mr Saunders' family and will be offering to meet them to explain to them what the IPCC investigation will cover and how we will keep them informed of any developments."

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