Retired officer’s new book on murder of ‘Dustbin’ Davies

FOR a corporation dustman in the 1980s, John Davies didn’t half like to splash the cash. It was not unknown for him to walk into his local pub in Kidderminster, pull out a wad of notes and pay £70 on rounds of drinks and food.

That’d be about £350 today and would have put him Pools winner’s territory. Except “Dustbin Davies” as he was nicknamed had never won the football pools in his life. He substantially supplemented his income by wheeling and dealing, mostly in scrap metal which he squirrelled away from a council refuse site.

In that way he was able to give the impression, not entirely untrue, of being a wealthy man. But it was one that was to lead to his death at the hands of a killer who was even more of a Walter Mitty character than he was.

For while the extravagantly named Douglas Lorworth William Ellis Casey Latham told tales of being a former member of the SAS and a mercenary soldier in Angola, in reality the nearest he ever was to being a professional soldier were the 26 months he spent in the local TA.

How fantasist Latham came to bludgeon Davies to death as he slept in the former council house he bought off the local authority in Clifton Road, Birchen Coppice, Kidderminster, is told in a new book by one of the senior detectives who brought him to justice.

 

Retired Chief Superintendent Brian Humphreys with his book

Retired Chief Superintendent Brian Humphreys with his book

 

Retired Chief Superintendent Brian Humphreys kept many of the documents relating to the case and now the story of one of Worcestershire’s most tangled murders is revisited in Big Talk Murder.

However, this is not a storybook story, but more a fly on the wall account of the twists and turns of the police investigation as it tried to separate fact from fiction. Similar in many ways to the current crop of reality television documentaries which follow detectives solving a crime from start to finish. 

It includes interview quotes and details from most of the parties involved and shows the problems officers have when faced with practised liars. They may know who did it, but proving it is another matter.

“I called it Big Talk, because that was what it was, pub bragging,” said Brian. “Latham, who seemed to have had various surnames over the years, had become a lifelong failure who concocted elaborate and grandiose plans for his own future, all of which failed to materialise.

“Mainly because he was too idle to put the necessary effort into his ambitions. But although he may have been an unsavoury character that didn’t make him a killer.”

 

The Davies family home in Birchen Coppice, Kidderminster where John Davies was murdered in 1981

The Davies family home in Birchen Coppice, Kidderminster where John Davies was murdered in 1981

 

Latham came into John Davies’ life through his daughter Carol. The pair met while working together at West Midland Safari Park and the two like-minded losers became lovers. In October 1980 Latham moved into the Davies family home and 15 months later Dustbin was found dead on his own settee with his head stoved in.

Fed-up with their boring lives in England, Latham and Carol Davies had decided to escape to South Africa, but of course lacked any finance. So they hatched a plan to do away with the charge-hand refuse collector whose money, they somewhat naively assumed, would fund their adventure.

Their scheme had more holes than a kitchen colander but such was their web of lies and deceit and their involvement of others, the detectives’ eureka moment didn’t happen until a witness came forward following a press appeal.

 

 

 

A Mr Milward had been fishing on the canal near Caldwell Mill Bridge in Kidderminster when he saw something thrown into the water from a silver-grey Vauxhall Viva car.

He went to police with the registration number and the vehicle turned out to belong to Carol Davies. When divers searched the canal they found a metal wheel brace, the murder weapon.

In November 1981 at Oxford Crown Court Douglas Lorworth William Ellis Casey Latham was jailed for life for the murder of John Davies, while Carol Davies was also sent to prison for conspiracy. Their big talk had big consequences.

Big Talk Murder by Brian Humphreys costs £11.95 from amazon.co.uk/dp/B09TF224YD

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