Unsolved Murders

Donald Clifford Rees

Age: 24

Sex: male

Date: 11 Dec 1956

Place: Woodfield Street, Morriston, Swansea

Donald Clifford Rees was stabbed in Woodfield Street, Morriston on 1 December 1957 and later died on 11 December 1957 in hospital.

A Somali man was tried for his murder but acquitted. He was also tried for stabbing another man but similarly acquitted.

It was heard that a man and his girlfriend had gone with two other people to a public house in Woodfield Street where they drank from about 7pm until closing time, 10pm, during which time they were joined by Donald Rees, the man's brother and three other men, which made up a party of seven men and two women who later left the pub together as a gang.

When they left the pub they walked down Woodfield Street where they broke up into small parties.

It was said that the Somali man had been going along in the opposite direction and that it seemed as though he had looked at the two women and that the man that was stabbed had said to the Somali man, 'Who do you think you are looking at?', or words to that effect and a fight started between the man and the Somali man.

It was said that a man then saw the Somali man stumble into the gutter and to then take out a knife from his pocket and that as the man that was fighting him went towards him that the Somali man lunged at him and got him. It was thought then that as the man staggered back from being stabbed that Donald Rees then ran towards the Somali man with a bottle in his hand.

It was said then that the Somali man raised his hand to ward off the blow with the bottle and that it seemed to catch on his arm and forehead and that he then pulled his arm back and struck Donald Rees with the knife in the region of the shoulder and then the stomach after which Donald Rees collapsed on the Somali man. They were said to have then sunk to the ground with Donald Rees holding the Somali man in his arms and that the Somali man had continued slashing him with the knife until Donald Rees fell to the ground.

When the police arrived they took the knife away from the Somali man and it was said that when they asked him whether he had used it he had said, ''Yes, they attacked me and called me a ----'.

The surgical registrar at Morriston Hospital in Swansea said that Donald Rees had wounds to his side, temple, nose and cheek.

In his statement before he died, Donald Rees said, 'I live at 169 Chemical Road, Morriston. I was walking down Morriston on Saturday night, the 1st December. I was behind the gang and I heard some pushing in front of me. There was a fight so I tried to stop it. There was a bit of scrabbling after that, and that's when I received my wound. I knew nothing after that'.

When he was cross-examined, he said, 'My friend was with me that night. I can't remember who else was with me. I had had no trouble in a public house that night. None of the gang had had a row that night. I did not have a flagon or a bottle with me. My friend did not have a bottle. Nobody in my crowd had a bottle. That’s the lot. There were six or seven of us in the gang. I did not see a knife that night, not at any time. I did not see a bottle broken that night. I did not hit a black man. Nobody else hit him on the head with a bottle. No one punched him. No one kicked him as far as I saw. Neither of us called him a black bastard. I didn't pull his hat over his eyes. I didn't see it. I did not see anyone punch him. I have never been in trouble with the police. I have never been mixed up in any fights. I had never seen the black man in my life before'.

The friend of Donald Rees that was stabbed had lived in Heol-y-Mthen, Cwmrhydyccirw, Morriston, Swansea, was an electric welder and was 5ft 6in tall. He said that on 1 December 1956 that he and his girlfriend met at the Morriston Cross at about 6.30pm by arrangement along with two other acquaintances of his and that the four of them then went to the Powells Arms public house in Church Square, Morriston, getting there between 6.45pm and 7pm and that they stayed until closing time. He said that the other people then joined them, arriving between 8pm and 8.30pm and that they all stayed until about closing time during which time he had about five pints of draught beer. He noted that he usually drank more than that but that he had been playing football and that he hadn't been bothering with it.

He said that they all left together, some walking on one side of the road and others on the other side, but that after a while they all ended up on the left hand side of the road going towards Morriston Cross, noting that they were spread out going down the road.

He said that the two girls were in front and that he was behind them and trying to catch up and that it was then that he bumped into the coloured boy. He said that the coloured boy then tried to butt him with his head but that he stepped out of his way and then went for him to fight him back. He said that the next thing that he knew was that the coloured boy was out in the road. He said that as he was then rushing at him he saw that the coloured boy was opening a knife in his hand. He said that he then caught hold of the coloured boy with his left hand by his coat collar during which time the coloured boy was trying to hit him and that he then felt a sharp pain in his stomach.

He said that he then saw Donald Rees standing beside him and said that he appeared to be holding the coloured boy but that he then fell into the roadway as he was in such pain.

He said that he next remembered seeing a policeman tackling the coloured boy and that after that he was taken to the hospital.

One of the girls that had been with the party, a 16-year-old, said that she had been dating the other man that was stabbed and she had gone to the Powells Arms with him in Morriston on the night of 1 December 1956, leaving with the group at about 10pm. She said that when she left the pub that she walked along with her other female friend  on the right hand side of the road and then crossed to the left opposite Woolworths, noting that her boyfriend, the other man that was also stabbed, was walking behind her about one or two yards.

She said that she first saw the Somali man by Basil Jones' Chemist Shop coming opposite her on the same pavement, saying that he was looking at her and that the next  thing was that he was rushing at her boyfriend and that she then heard a voice from behind say, 'Who are you looking at', but said that she didn't know whose voice it was. However, she said that when the Somali man rushed at her boyfriend that she crossed to the other side of the street and walked down. She said that he caught hold of him and pushed him against the window of the toy shop. She said that at that point Donald Rees was walking about two yards behind the rest of the party.  She said that when she next went back that she saw her boyfriend on the ground being assisted by another member of the group and Donald Rees lying on the pavement.

A policeman that saw part of the fight said that he had been on duty in Woodfield Street, Morriston and that he had seen some people that he thought were struggling. He said, 'There was a crowd of about 100 people there. I then saw two men lying on the pavement. One was Donald Rees. I heard a man say, 'He has got a knife'. I said to him, 'Give me that knife'. He relaxed his hold and I took it from him'.

When the Somali man was arrested and caution he said, 'Two men attacked me, hit me and called me a black bastard and said who are you looking at. I take knife from short man'.

The police said that after it became apparent that the Somali man was denying that the knife was his they said that they made efforts to identify whose it was and said that the members of the party that Donald Rees had been with denied that it had belonged to any of them. However, they said that after also showing the knife to some of the Somali men's friend and finding that none of them could recognise it either, they stated that they had failed to establish who had owned it.

A doctor that treated Donald Rees said, 'On the 12th of December, 1956, I was present when the doctor conducted a post mortem examination on the body of the man identified as Donald Clifford Rees. I first saw Rees on Saturday the 1st December, 1956, at approximately 11.30pm. I examined him on admission to hospital. He was suffering from a severe degree of shock. He had several injuries. There was an incised wound approximately three inches long in the left subcostal region. Through this wound a plug of omentum which may be described as a fatty apron which is present in the abdominal cavity was protruding through the wound. This indicates that the wound had penetrated the peritonal cavity. In the left temporal region thre was an incised wound about two inches long but the underlying bone was not exposed.

There was a slash wound present across the bridge of the nose. Fourthly there was a slash wound across the left cheek. The third and fourth wounds entered the skin in the same direction obliquely from the above backwards and were in the same line. This indicated that they were caused by the same blow.

The injuries I saw could have been caused by the knife now produced.

Subsequently to my examination and resuscitation I was able to operate on this patient. The operation revealed that the first wound I have mentioned caused firstly a two inch long wound in the descending portion of the large bowel. That had the result of spreading blood and faeces throughout the portional cavity. I exposed and examined the left kidney. There was an incised wound approximately one inch in length through the cortex, that is the outer lining on the interior surface. Through this wound arterial bleeding was taking place. I had to close the left colon by stitching it up and satisfied myself that the right kidney was present and of normal size. I then removed the left kidney.

In the wound in the left loin on exploring it during the operation the costal cartilage being a part of the left rib had been divided. Cartilage is a very tough substance and the wound shows that considerable force was necessary to cause it. The wound penetrated from the surface of the skin to the kidney which is a distance of at least two inches. The track of the wound shewed that the blow with the knife was downward, backward and inward.

In spite of treatment Rees died at 3.30am on the 11th of December 1956. Cause of death was due to the failure of the remaining right kidney which in turn was due to the haemorrhage causing generalised shock and renal anoxia and alan sepsis due to faecal peritonitis'.

Following Donald Rees's death the Somali man was arrested and charged with his murder but he was acquitted at the Glamorgan Assizes at Cardiff on Tuesday 9 April 1956, although it is not clear whether the jury believed his version of events or whether they could not decide.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Archives - ASSI 84/229, ASSI 91/60

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Monday 31 December 1956

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 10 April 1957

see Western Mail - Tuesday 01 January 1957

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 02 January 1957

see Halifax Evening Courier - Wednesday 02 January 1957

see Western Mail - Wednesday 02 January 1957