Melvyn 'Adie' McLellan, has given MOJUK permission to publish in full the article below, which first appeared in 'The Observer Review' 14th September 1997
Crime and passion - sleeping with the enemy
The father of Vicki's first child has just been jailed for murder. The father of her second is the policeman who helped put him away
On Humberside, which has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the country, the stereotype of a nuclear family was long ago exploded. Even so, the unusual domestic setting surrounding 12-year-old girl from Grimsby looks, by anyone's standards, to be something of a time bomb. Her father is a drug dealer, Melvyn 'Adie' McLellan, who was initially sentenced to life in prison for killing a man. Her mother is Vicki Saunders, who was the prosecution's main witness at McClellan's trial. And her stepfather, and Saunders current boyfriend, police constable David Chapman, who played a key role in putting the child's farther and farther away.
Last week, the little girl also gained a half sister as Saunders and Chapman celebrated the birth of their first child. Clearly this is a blended family, to use currently approved language, with a potent mix. Sibling rivalry and visitation rights are phrases with a darker meaning here. The potential for future friction between daughter and stepfather goes way beyond disagreement over what time to return from the disco,
Family history, of course, is seldom straightforward story, to unravel the twisted bonds in which these two-year-old girl is now entwined is to untangle a grim drama of sex, drugs and murder. At its core is a picture of contemporary Britain far removed from the official mood of optimism abroad in the country. It's an image blurred by a narcotic haze of disaffection as well as police efforts to draw a veil over the case. But look hard enough the questions began to outnumber the answers. Why, for example was McClellan convicted and not his former girlfriend, Saunders? Why did he receive a recommendation to serve a minimum of 20 years to a crime that even the prosecution acknowledged was provoked? What was PC Chapman impact on events?
For a 26-year-old who will be nearly 50 before he is due to see the outside world again, McLaren appears remarkably relaxed. A large man with slicked back hair, and soft handshake and a small lazy eyes, he greets me in a bare interview room in Leicester prison with quiet composure. He cooly runs through his story only slipping into a sneer when he mentions PC Chapman. 'He's an old , bald bloke, I don't know what she [Sanders] sees in him.'
Humberside poliec say that while Chapman was involved in the drugs operation that led to McLellan's arrest, he played no part whatsoever in the murder investigation other than in the limited capacity of witness management. This, as we shall see, is a narrow description of Chapman's contribution, to say the least. And given the outcome of events, accuracy on this matter is unquestionably vital.
McLellan acknowledges that he had been involved in a longstanding feud with the murdered man. Gregory Dalton, an occasional heroin user in Grimsby; and that the antagonism between them dated back to their schooldays. In court, it was claimed that their relationship seriously degenerated after Dalton firebombed McLellans' car and Sanders' face was burnt in the process. McLellan also says, and the police and prosecution agreed, that Dalton and two associates attacked him with a hammer on 7 February 1995. Two days later, Dalton was found dead with a massive quantity of heroin in his blood stream.
Initially, the police thought it was an accidental overdose. Dalton's death had been reported by Terry Norman, in whose house he had attended a 'drugs party' with another man, Anthony Crowder. However, when a toxicology report confirmed abnormally high levels of heroin, the police began to suspect foul play. They were aware of Dalton and McLellan's history and they were also familiar with McLellan's reputation as a drugs dealer.
At certain times when seeking to persuade the judge and jury that McLellan was a big-time hood with the muscle to order a 'contract' killing, he was portrayed as the fishing town's 'Codfather', as one officer jokingly put it to me. This may in no small part explain the 20-year tariff the judge imposed on McLellan's sentence. Since his conviction, the police line, as another officer told me, is that he was nothing but 'a big estate lout' who made a small living selling drugs to hes friends. Humberside police are proud of their recored on fighting drug-related crime. 'We don't have dealers driving BMWs in Grimsby,' says Sergeant Andy Biggs, of the local drugs squad. McLellan drove a Ford Escort, but it was enough to impress his friends.
In any event, McLelan, Norman, Crower and Sanders were arrested in March 1995 in connection with Daton's death, although they were all subsequently released without charge. And that's how thing stood for the next nine months. In the meantime, Vicki Sanders gave birth to McLellan's daughter and life continued as before in this dull corner of Grimsby just behind the docks. It was, however, a strange and numbing kind of normality.
In court, the jury heard about a series of empty lives given shape only by a web of sex and drugs transactions. As one prosecution witness Beverley Brydges, herself a long-time drug abuser, told me: 'Adie's friends had threesomes for drugs.' Another young woman, Mandy Taster, said that when she was a regular user of Ecstasy, amphetamines and Diconal, she had affairs with McLellan and Sanders both separately and together. 'We had the occasional threesome,' she recalls. 'Vicki was very outrageous, a flamer and a half.' The jury also heard that Sanders, a slight young woman with a pretty smile and a high street perm, had a s series of lesbian affairs with a variety of women including McLellan's ex-girlfriend (and mother of his first child) and her own sister, Kelly Sanders. Sanders denied sleeping with her sister.
Something of Sander's state of mind at the time is captured in the statment she gave to the police in December 1995: 'I have [used] - and up to date still use Temazpam and occasionally Diconal tablets . . . Temazepam is a sleeping tablet which makes me sleepy and sometimes makes me forget things. Diconal is a strong pain killer and it also makes me very sleepy or drowsy. I know that is is an opiate sort of drug. When you take Diconal you sort of "drift off " and forget things and where you are. They also make you feel numb all over.
This glum passage forms part of two statement, amounting to some 34 pares, that Sanders gave in December 1995 and January 1996. Apart from dtails of her own personal pharmaceutical intake, Sanders also recorded McLellan's dealings: 'Ecstasy, LSD, amphetamine, Temazepam, cannabis and, for a short period round about Christmas 1994 to February or March 1995, he was involved in the supply of heroin.' Further more, she described how McLellan had 'hired' Norman and Crowder with the promis of money and heroin to kill Dalton with a lethal dose of drugs. (Norman and Crowder were also later found guilty of murder and sentenced to life.) All this information she gave not to a high-ranking detective nor, indeed, any type of detective. The policeman who took these statements both before and after McLellan was charged with murder was humble constable, PC David Chapaman.
On day when the wind whips in from the North Sea, the smell of rotting fish from the docks where McLellan once worked as a 'lumper' packs the air like a punch. It's a stark: environment whose rawness could possibly account for the local no-frills preference for intravenous drug use; a tradition that for a variety of reasons - heroin is relatively cheap at £10 a wrap - suddenly spread from a cluster of die-hard addicts to the younger community at large at the turn of the decade.
'Everybody in on heroin in Grimsby,' says McLellan. Travel through te cramped streets near Cleethopes and it's a statement that can seem only a minor exaggeration. Detective Inspector Bill Geer, a bearded Frank Dobson look alike, used to be a sergeant in Humbside drugs squad in the eighties.'It was just a handful of people then,' he recalls, 'who financed themselves with burglaries and fraud. When I came back [to Humberside police force] in '95 it had spread right across the large estates.
'Go round on Thursday evening and everybody's out on the doorstep as if waiting to pay the milkman. But they're not waiting for the milkman. Word's got out that there's some brown [heroin].
It's a problem, says Geer, that saps the quality of life of the whole community. It might be said that 'quality of life' is not an expression that springs immediately to mind when walking among the dilapidated two-up, two-downs south of Cleethorpes Road.But if Grimsby is to arrest the accelerating cycle of despair that revolves around hard drugs, unemployment and crime, it has to start somewhere.
And one thing everyone is agreed on is that tackling drugs requires the input of the whole community. Where once suspicion was the starting point between the schools, social services and the probation service on the one hand and the police on the other, now the buzz word is 'liaison'. Humberside has developed a 'multi-agency' strategy of education of drug consumers backed up by law enforcement to combat the dealers. In other words, tough on drugs, tough on the causes of drugs.
Eddie Ronayne, a jolly Liverpudlian who is the chair of the Drugs Reference Group at North East Lincolnshire Council (motto 'better because we're closer to the people'), is optimistic about this new joint-initiative. 'Ten years ago, we wouldn't talk to each other,' he says. 'It wasn't kosher.'
However, he inadvertently acknowledges a flaw in the logic of the carers dealing with the demand sided while the enforcers take care of supply. 'We used to talk about pushers at the school gates. Now we realise that it's the kids who are pulling them in. 'Which is an original if rather bleak version of that old capitalist saw: You can't buck the market.
The difficulty for the police in gathering evidence is how to get customers to testify against their dealer when to do do would cut off their supply. Hoe can they get evidence against a dealer when is in his customers' best interest? In the McLellan case, they gained supporting statements by rounding up everyone who bought drugs from him. No charges were made against anyone who was interviewed.
The list of prosecution witnesses who either made statements or testified againd McLellan reads like an A-Z of Grimsby drug abusers. I traced a number of them down and the story they told was monotonously similar.
In the back yard of his fathers's house one friend and former customer of McLellan told me how he came to give an incriminating statement. 'The police pulled me. I didn't know anything about Dalton. I was on heroin at the time and all I wanted to do, was go and see my doctor. I made it all up.'
Of course it's impossible to know whether this man was telling the truth. In spite of his protestations during out meeting that he was 'off drugs' he scratched himself and lost track of conversation in such a way as to suggest that the 'off' period was not due to last long.
Mandy Tasker, by contrast, was far more lucid. 'They told me they wasn't interested in Vicki,' Tasker said. 'It was Adie they was after.' McLellan's mother Barbara Wakefield, was arrested shortly after her son. Up until then, she had supported the explanation that McLellan gave for his whereabouts on the night Dalton was murdered: that he was with her and his father at the Golden Bridge Chinese restaurant. She was charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. She says she was released 10 days later. She also gave a statement that undermined her son's alibi. Along with every other witness arrested at the time, Wakefield has never been prosecuted for any offence relating to the case.
Now a number of Sander's former friends are contradicting what they said in their statements. Again, with this is the women i spoke to, all of whom had small children in tow, the problem was the same - how reliable was their retraction? But equally one might ask how reliable were their original statements?
Either way, there must be doubts about the trustworthiness of drug users whose liberty and habit are at risk when co-operating with the police. In reply all to this criticism, he in Humberside police argue that each statement was meticulously checked and it is the sheer weight of corroborative statements that guarantees authenticity.
Trevor Cox, McLellan's lawyer, nevertheless argues that the manner in which the statements were gathered and the background of those who gave them makes McLellans' conviction unsafe. His concern is increased by another case he is appealing involving Humberside police. Last year 1996, *Lyndon Coles and Robert Bradley were found guilty of the murder of Shane George in Hull. The prosecution, says Cox, rested almost entirely on the testimony of drug addicts, who have since retracted their statements.
With McClellan, says Cox, the case against him boils down largely to one witness, a habitual drug abuser whom the police had once previously arrested for dealing, Vicki Sanders. Without Sanders says Cox, 'Adie would not have been charged. And if McClellan is guilty it is very difficult to see how Sanders is entirely innocent.'
According to Sanders, on the night of 8th February 1995, she accompanied McClellan to Terry Norman's flat dress in Brereton Avenue, Grimsby. There, she said, she saw Greg Daltonin a near comatose state. She explained that Norman Crowder had prepared a syringe for Dalton with which he injected himself. She described how with Dalton still alive but unconscious the other three men attempted to finish him off with, first a preparation of Diconal, and then a syringe containing an air bubble. The coroner's report stated that Dalton would have died almost immediately from the heroin.
Sanders claimed she was so shocked by what she saw that she persuaded McLellan to leave and they both returned home where, still disturbed, she took some Diconal and went to bed. She did not mention any of the events that took place at Brereton Avenue when she was arrested in March 1995 because, she said, she was worried that she would be held responsible by the police - an anxiety that, as it turned out, was completely misplaced. She also did not mention it for the next nime months for the same reason.
That PC Chapman, Sander's future partner, was the man ho finally elicited her confession is not an issue that unduly concerns Humberside police. They point out that the relationship between Sanders and Chapman did not start until three months after she gave her statement and that, anyway, Chapman had no significant part in the murder investigation. 'It was all handled completely ethically,' Divisional Commander Andrew Everett told me.
By March, Chapman had left his wife and children and moved in with Sanders, a woman with a criminal record and a long history of drug abuse; a woman who by her own admission had lived for three years of McLellan's earnings from drug dealing; a woman who for nine months withheld information of a murder at which she was present.
The close proximity of two antagonistic cultures - drug enforcement and drug taking - was to prove embarrassing in court. After Chapman and Sanders came out as a couple, Tasker secretly recorded a conversation she had with Sander's sister Kerry. On the tape, which was played to the jury, Tasker and Kerry Sanders talk about an evening when they had 'Hot Knives' ( a process of inhaling cannabis resin trouogh a plastic bottle by heating it over a stove) with Chapman. At one stage, Kerry Sanders says that Chapman had 'got a tenner deal' and was 'that f=d' he coudn't see how big the resin was he was smoking.
On being questioned, Kerry Sanders claimed that she had only said these thing to go along with what Tasker had been saying in the conversation and that in fact, she had never seen Chapman take drugs. The policeman himself, who was attached to the drug squad at the time, also denied ever smoking cannabis. Chapman, who is 38, was transferred from Grimsby police station after his relationship with Sanders became public. He and Sanders and the two children are thought to be living is a small industrial town further up the Humber. Neither were prepared to talk about the case. Vicki Sander's mother told me that Chapman is now working undercover.
It is not true to portray Grimsby simply as some dysfunctional northern crime capital. Last week, for example, the advertising hoarding for the Grimsby Evening Telegraph screamed the reassuring headline: 'Grimsby Youth Killed Cat.'
As Detective Inspector Geer put it, referring to the M18-M180 corridor that links the town to the rest of the country: 'Grimsby is at the end of a 60 mile cul-de-sac.' In one sense, it is protected by its isolation from the sort of urban crimes that afflict other parts of the country - guns are rare and there is no gangland to speak of. But the very fact that it is so cut-off may partially explain the very real drugs problem that does exist her. Deaths through overdoses are now running at around one per month, which in a community of this size 9Grimsby itself has a population of 40,000) is a troubling statistic.
When I met Vicki's Sander's mother and sister, Kerry, outside the family home near Grimsby Town's football ground, they both told me that there were four separate heroin dealers at work in their unprepossessing little street.
Understandably sensitive about the whole issue of drugs, their instinct was to point the finger of responsibility elsewhere - at the dealers and, specifically Adie McLellan. A small, neat, made-up woman, Mrs Sanders traces all of her daughter's problems to meeting McLellan. 'I wouldn't have anything to do withe him' she said. 'My husband and I have strong principles. Vicki's just like me. I don't know how she got involved with him.'
They met in a disco, in fact, and the word is that McLellan was not the first boyfriend Sanders had who was involved in drugs. At the time, she was working in the KP crisp factory but, according to Barbara Wakefield, McLellan's mother, 'she got bored with it. That's why she got pregnant. That's the only reason she got pregnant.'
For her part, Wakefield thinks Sanders was a bad influence on her son, that together they were a dangerous combination. 'He could get the drugs and she wanted them.'
I asked Kerry, who says she no longer uses drugs, what attracted her to the drug scene. ' I started on amphetamines after I had a kid,' she said brightly. 'I wanted to lose weight.' Her boyfriend, she says, who happens ot be the father of Mandy Tasker's child, is also now going straight, following a prison sentence for drug dealing. She was going to tell me more about her experiences in what one might call Grimsby's drugs underworld were it not so unglamorously visible. The next day, though, she informed me that Sergeant Biggs had advised her not t speak to me. And so she didn't.
Whatever happened on the night of 8 February 1995 - and the truth may never fully be known - it's certain that it would not have taken place in the absence of hard drugs. Equally, it could be argued that hard drugs would not be nearly so prevalent on Humberside if a generation did not sense in their live an unremitting absence.
McLellan is currently attempting to gain some sort of access to his daughter, whom he has not been allowed to see since the night he was arrested. The young girl has also not seen her paternal grandmother, the woman who looked after her for six months owing to Sanders' problem with drugs. Barbara Wakefield once asked Adie McLelland why he gave up his girlfriend and son for Vicki Sanders. 'He started crying,' she recalls, 'and said: "We have fun, Man. " In the hollowed-out hear of Grimsby, 'fun' can result in terrible consequences.
* Battle to free men goes on
"In 1996 Lyndon Coles and Robert Bradley were sent to life in prison for the shooting of Shane George in 1994. Lyndon and Robert are innocent of this crime, because Humberside police convicted them both on circumstantial evidence which they conjured up!!"
6 December 2010: The Hull Two name the actual killers and describe what led to the killing of Shane George in 1994:
"Alan Gough paid Andrew Pearson and David Hogg to knee cap Shane George! Hogg then took it upon his self to kill him as he wanted to know what it felt like to kill a man, they then went to Steve Watson's house and hid the gun there, Steve Watson panicked and rang his brother George Watson, who then got the gun and hid it... in the Bude Road area as it was on his way home and he couldn't travel far as he was banned from driving at the time, and didn't want to get pulled!!! These are true facts!!"
The families of two Hull men serving life sentences for murdering petty criminal Shane George today vowed to continue their fight to clear their names.
Lyndon Coles, 35, and Robert Bradley, 29, failed to convince the Court of Appeal last week that they were innocent of the 1994 shooting in Coltman Street, west Hull.
But, speaking to the Mail for the first time since the hearing, Robert Coles, 55, the father of Lyndon, said the campaign was not over. And he renewed his challenge to Humberside Police to sue him over allegations he has made about evidence that led to the two men being framed.
Mr Coles said: "We know our sons are innocent."
The families are now planning to lobby Home Secretary Jack Straw for changes in the way complaints against police officers are investigated.
"There should be a specially trained group of people, with no axe to grind, who do not know the officers being investigated," said Mr Coles. "We are disappointed at the outcome. As parents we have done everything we can through the legal channels. But it does not end here. My argument is with the justice system and it starts in the police force, with the questioning of suspects."
Mr Coles claimed earlier this year that he moved from his home in Clarendon Street, west Hull, after being threatened with a shotgun during his own investigations. And he claims that the trial jury was confused by conflicting evidence. "Nine key witnesses later retracted their evidence. It grieves us that their retractions were ignored," he said.
A spokeswoman for Humberside Police today declined to comment on the Appeal Court's decision. She said: "As a file is still outstanding as to whether or not there are any disciplinary issues, it would not be appropriate to comment further."