1. ITV Report

Detectives reveal how they caught Swansea murderer David Ellis

Almost a year after a Swansea man was jailed for murdering his landlord Alec Warburton police in South Wales have revealed how remarkable CCTV and numberplate recognition cameras helped them track the killer as he fled the country.

David Ellis (right) killed landlord Alec Warburton (left) before going on the run.

In an ITV Cymru Wales made documentary for S4C - ‘Y Ditectif’ to be aired tonight, the case detectives speak out for the first time to explain how the manhunt for David Ellis became a multi force inquiry.

Their investigation led them to the discovery of Alec Warburton’s body in a remote quarry in North Wales.

In August 2015 Swansea Landlord Alec Warburton was reported missing and after a forensic search of his house in Sketty detective believed he’d been killed.

Now the forensic investigation is explained in the documentary using exclusive 3D laser imaging of the crime scene.

With no body - proving a murder case was very challenging according to the Senior Investigating Officer in the case:

We had a two pronged approach to the investigation - one was the search and the manhunt for David Ellis and the other was a search for a deposition site so we could bring Alec Warburton back and lay him to rest properly for his family.

– Detective Superintendent Kath Pritchard

Their prime suspect was tenant David Ellis but he’d gone on the run. Police searched through hours of CCTV to track his movements.

After closer investigation of number plate recognition “ANPR’ cameras, they realised that he’d taken a body in the boot of the landlord’s car to North Wales. But he had also tried his best to evade capture.

To avoid capture, David Ellis used black tape to change letters on his numberplate.

What he had done was to use some black electrical tape and had changed two letters on the numberplate. We searched different combinations of the number plate on the ANPR cameras and then we found the car in Birkenhead.

– Detective Sergeant Neil Jones

From North Wales David Ellis boarded a ferry to Northern Ireland. And after finally tracking his movements to Ireland he was arrested by the Garda Police six weeks later.

The location of Alec Warburton’s body was revealed as the disused quarry in Dolwyddelan. The recovery of the body became a task for the Dyffryn Ogwen Mountain Rescue Team with a hundred foot drop down to the location of the body. Volunteer Gerwyn Lloyd from the rescue team explains,

Using rope systems police managed to recover the body on a stretcher.

On the 8th of June 2016 David Ellis pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied murder at Swansea Crown Court. But he was found guilty by the jury and was given a life sentence with a minimum jail term of 26 years.

He had clearly planned to murder Alec Warburton most likely for money.

And the landlord’s death was untimely and clearly unnecessary and was committed by a very manipulative individual.

– Det Supt Kath Pritchard

You can see more evidence from the investigation in the programme tonight on S4C - Y Ditectif - presented by Mali Harries, 9.30pm with English subtitles.