in Herefordshire are to reopen an inquiry into a missing
man from Canon Pyon in 1954 after having received new evidence.
Derek Saville, then aged 25, disappeared on the evening
of 7th December 1954, having left his girlfriend’s house
to head back to his own in the village. He was reported
missing four days later and an extensive missing persons
investigation was started by the then Herefordshire Constabulary.
Saville was never found, despite intensive local and national
media coverage of the case.
from West Mercia Constabulary’s Herefordshire Division have
now reopened the case, after a new witness came forward
with information. The witness, who was aged seven in 1954,
stated that he had 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.
detectives from the investigation team returned from Perth,
Australia, on Monday where they re-interviewed the witness,
who emigrated a number if years ago. The investigation,
code named 'Operation Panda' now has a possible location
for the body of Mr Saville in Canon Pyon, and forensic teams
began a specialist search on Monday.
Inspector David Llewellin, from Hereford CID, said, 'The
disappearance of Derek 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 new evidence which could provide
answers about how and why he disappeared.'
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.'
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.'
survey work has identified a viable burial spot at a field
in Canon Pyon. Members of the Operation Panda investigation
team were joined on Monday by search specialists, geographic
profilers and forensic archaeologists.
Members of Mr Saville’s family have been kept informed of
Operation Panda’s progress, but do not wish to make any
public comment on the case at this time. Should the dig
reveal a body, details of the investigation will be passed
to the Herefordshire Coroner and a file may also be passed
to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine what, if any,
charges can now be brought.