South East Wales

Idris Ali 'body in carpet' conviction could be appealed

Idris Ali Image copyright Other
Image caption Idris Ali was convicted of murder in 1994

A man who admitted killing a Cardiff teenager whose remains were found wrapped in carpet 25 years ago has been invited to appeal his conviction.

Idris Ali, 48, was convicted of murdering 15-year-old Karen Price after she disappeared from a children's home.

But that conviction was quashed after an appeal in 1994 and he admitted manslaughter in the resulting retrial.

The case was referred due to concerns over techniques used by South Wales Police in their investigation.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) said it had concerns about the alleged "oppressive handling" of key witnesses by officers and alleged breaches of police regulations.

Ali's invitation comes as co-defendant Alan Charlton's murder conviction case is set to be heard by the Court of Appeal.

The murder became known as the "body in the carpet" case after the teenager's remains were discovered wrapped in carpet in a shallow grave on 7 December 1989.

A plastic bag had been placed over her head and her arms had been tied behind her back.

The body was found by workmen in the garden of a property in Fitzhamon Embankment, Cardiff, eight years after Karen had disappeared.

After failed attempts to identify her body, Richard Neave, of Manchester University, created a clay facial reconstruction of the skull.

Karen was identified following the reconstruction and DNA samples taken from her parents and the skeletal remains.

Charlton, from Bridgwater, Somerset, was living at Fitzhamon Embankment at the time the teenager went missing.

Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Karen Price's arms had been tied behind her back
Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Karen's skeletal remains were found on 7 December 1989, wrapped in a carpet
Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption They were found at the back of a property in Fitzhammon Embankment, Cardiff
Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption A clay facial reconstruction of Karen's skull helped to identify her

He was convicted on 26 February 1991 at Cardiff Crown Court and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 15 years, but he remains in jail more than 20 years later.

In 1994, Charlton's appeal was heard alongside that of co-defendant Ali, from Birchgrove in Cardiff, who was Karen's pimp.

The court dismissed Charlton's appeal but quashed Ali's conviction and ordered a retrial, where he admitted manslaughter and was released from prison.

Notorious cases

But following a lengthy investigation, the CCRC has now referred Charlton's conviction to the Court of Appeal as it considers there is "a real possibility that the court will quash the conviction".

CCRC has said a number of officers involved in the case also investigated two notorious cases that resulted in miscarriages of justice - the murders of Lynette White and Philip Saunders.

The CCRC has also told the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary about its concerns.

And on Wednesday, a spokesperson said: "I can confirm that in light of our referral to the Court of Appeal of Alan Charlton's murder conviction, we have approached Mr Idris Ali to invite him to make an application in relation to his manslaughter conviction."

Following the referral of Charlton's case, IPCC commissioner Jan Williams said it raised important questions about the conduct of South Wales Police during the 1980s and 1990s.

"In the light of questions around other similar cases, this clearly raises serious issues for public confidence in the integrity of the force at that time," she said.

"We therefore expect South Wales Police to review all the evidence from the CCRC, make a decision, and record and refer any conduct issues that may come to light and which may then require IPCC action."

Following news of the appeal, South Wales Police Chief Constable Peter Vaughan said: "We note that the Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Alan Charlton for the murder of Karen Price to the Court of Appeal.

"In light of this referral we must now allow the judicial process to take its course and therefore cannot comment further at this stage."

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