29/06/2007

50-year-old murder case reopens

Detectives in Herefordshire are reopening an investigation into the disappearance of a 25-year-old man in 1954, after receiving new evidence.

The case of Derek Saville, who disappeared from Canon Pyon on December 7, 1954, is being reopened after a new witness came forward with information.

The man, who was aged seven in 1954, claimed to have seen his father (now deceased) and a group of unknown men digging what was described as a makeshift grave at the time of Mr Saville's disappearance.

Two detectives re-interviewed the witness in Perth, Australia, where he emigrated a number of years ago.

Police involved in the operation - codenamed Operation Panda - said that they now had a possible location for the body of Mr Saville in Canon Pyon and forensic teams are due to commence a specialist search on Monday.

Detective Inspector David Llewellin, from Hereford CID, said: "The disappearance of David Saville was one of the highest profile inquiries of its time and remains an unsolved crime to this day. It is important that we examine any new evidence that could lead to the location of his body, as well as continuing to determine if there is any news evidence, which could provide answers about how and why he disappeared.

"No case files survive from the 1950s but members of the Operation Panda inquiry have been able to talk to three surviving Herefordshire Constabulary detectives who were key to the original investigation. Detectives have also spent many months researching archives of material, including contemporary press cuttings, to build up a further profile of what went on at the time. Officers have also traced and spoken to a number of surviving witnesses who have given video accounts of the events in December 1954.

"At the time of the original investigation there was much speculation that Mr Saville had been threatened and intimidated by another man on the day of his disappearance and that this man may have been in some way involved in his death. All of this remains speculation but what we are working with right now is credible and tested evidence that suggests a site where Derek Saville's body may be. The dig is being carried out on the strength of that."

Police said that if a body was found, details of the investigation would be passed on to the Herefordshire Coroner.

A file may also be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service in order to determine what, if any, charges can be brought.

(KMcA)

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