Mick Jones may have lived in London for nearly 50 years but meeting him it’s hard to imagine he ever left Wales. The Welsh-speaking 63-year-old grew up in Brynamman as part of a mining family and has preserved every ounce of his Welsh charm.
Still to this day he calls Carmarthenshire home and admits he never wanted to leave in the first place. “Cut me in two and I’ve got Wales written in the middle of me,” he said. But Mick’s career had different plans for him and saw him face some of Britain’s most feared and despised killers in a life far away from his rural beginnings.
Unable to join his first-choice Welsh police forces in the 1970s due to government cutbacks he instead settled for the Metropolitan Police in London. It was there that he worked on the high-profile missing person cases of Suzy Lamplugh and Patsy Morris and dealt with evil killers Levi Bellfield, David Smith, and John Sweeney to name just a few. He even reduced one of them to tears.
Mick said it all started when he realised as a boy that he didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps as a miner and that university wasn’t going to be for him either. “I grew up on a council estate in Brynamman as part of a very close-knit family and close community in those days,” he said. “I was not academic and I didn’t like the academic side of school. I only went to school to play rugby and socialise. My father was a coal miner and my mum was a nurse before she had us.
“My older brother was an academic and he went off to university. And by the time it came for me to think about a career I decided I was not going to follow my father because I saw the dangers and the ill health issues it brought with it.”
At the age of about 14 Mick said he worked on a public service element of the Duke of Edinburgh award, which he chose to complete with the police. “I had to be lectured by a big old sergeant at Ammanford police station on a Thursday night. That just made me interested in becoming a police officer myself,” he said. “So at the age of 16 in 1976 I applied for all the Welsh police forces but because of government cutbacks they didn’t let me in. I then applied for the Metropolitan Police and West Yorkshire Police believe it or not.”
While he was waiting to hear back from his applications Mick said he was working on a local building site. He came home one day to find his mum crying and holding a letter in her hand.
“I came home covered in cement one day and my mother had opened the letter from the Met Police,” Mick said. “She looked at me and said: ‘You’re going to London are you?’ and started crying.
“That was a big deal back then. And then to come up to London aged 16 and not know a soul it felt very isolating and very lonely. However I was lucky. I joined the Met Police Cadets with about 300 other guys from all over the UK so we were all in the same boat. I made lifelong friends and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
But Mick said he very nearly didn’t go. As a rugby lover he preferred the idea of staying home and playing for his local team than joining the Met Police. He said: “Brynamman had a phenomenal rugby team in 1976 and as a young kid I wanted to be part of that team because rugby was so close to my heart and still is. It nearly stopped me from going to London.”
As a young and nimble police cadet Mick explained that they would go out on the beat with a parent PC and would often do a lot of the physical work. He recalled once being asked by his parent PC to climb the drainpipe to get on the roof of a house where a woman had been brutally raped. Although he was too young to investigate the crime it led to him giving evidence at court about the traumatic case when he was just 18 years old.
He also recalled once having to deliver a baby after he found a woman in labour down an alleyway near the police station. “About six months later I went to training school as a police constable. I was asked to give a story and I gave that story. Somebody asked me: ‘What sex was the baby?’ and I had absolutely no idea because of the adrenaline.”
Mick said he was put in police accommodation near the famous Kings Road in Chelsea. Although he didn’t fancy himself as a punk rocker like many of its inhabitants he said it was a fascinating time to live there. He said: “The accommodation had a single room, a bed, a wardrobe, and a sink and that was about it. You were with a lot of other police officers so it was like a small community. It was literally a five-minute walk from the Kings Road which was quite famous for its fashion and had Chelsea football ground around the corner. It was a buzzing time. With the punk era back in those days it was always full of colour.”
By this point he said eight of his peers from Ammanford Comprehensive School followed him to the Met – including his younger brother. He said almost all of them stayed and made a career out of it. In fact there were so many Welsh officers in the Met that a Welsh Society was formed.
Mick said: “We met once a month at a designated pub in London. As part of my initiation ceremony I had to eat a whole leek while they sung the Welsh national anthem. There were so many Welsh people in London that there was also a London Welsh male voice choir and London Welsh rugby team.”
Once he had finished his training programme Mick realised he wanted to become a criminal investigation department (CID) officer. To do this he said he joined the Met’s crime squad between 1980 and 1985. This was his first taste of handling serious crime. “We were on the streets detecting crime as it was happening,” he said. “[We dealt with] surveillance and drug raids. We also assisted major crime investigations such as murder and serial rape.”
He said his first involvement in a murder case was that of 14-year-old school girl Patsy Morris in 1980. She disappeared after leaving her school during her lunch break and was found dead by strangulation two days later near her home. Decades later it transpired that growing up she had been the childhood girlfriend of serial killer and rapist Levi Bellfield.
In 2008 Bellfield was found guilty of the murders of Marsha McDonnell, Amelie Delagrange, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy. He was also found guilty of the murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Although the links between him and Patsy were investigated at the time he has never been formally charged in connection with her death.
Although Bellfield was not initially a suspect regarding in the Patsy Morris murder case Mick said he came across him later in his career when he was tasked with sourcing a dying declaration from Kate Sheedy as she lay critically ill in hospital. In 2008 he gave evidence at the Old Bailey in relation to the attacks on Marsha, Amelie, and Kate.
He said: “I knew of him before the investigation started. He was always on steroids and was a bodybuilder. He was a control freak and always aggressive. What I knew of him beforehand fitted [with his crimes]. He was a very arrogant and full of himself kind of person who thought he was bigger and better than anyone else.”
In 1985, at the age of 25, Mick undertook a 14-week course to finally become a CID officer. He described it as a “law degree smashed into 14 weeks”. As someone who struggles with exams he said he had to make the difficult decision to miss his brother’s wedding which fell on the weekend before his tests on Monday – which luckily he passed “by the skin of my teeth”. This was the start of his 24 years as a detective in Fulham.
Within his first 12 months of the job Mick was tasked with visiting the house of high-profile missing person Suzy Lamplugh. She was reported missing on July 28, 1986, at the age of 25 and was declared dead and presumed murdered in 1993.
Mick said: “It left an impression on me because we were about the same age when she went missing. She was a young estate agent in Fulham who went out to meet a man called Mr Kipper one day and never returned.
“I was the first CID officer it was reported to that night. I went to the house where she lived and we were hoping that I wasn’t going to find a dead body. A problem I had was that Suzy’s father was with me and he wanted to come inside. There’s no way I could have allowed him to come inside. I had to deal with the possibility of finding her dead and you don’t want a dad to see something like that. We strongly believe that the man responsible for it is a guy called John Cannan. Suzy had her whole life ahead of her and it was a very sad waste of life.”
Cannan was found responsible for the murder of Shirley Banks in 1987. He is the only suspect in the murder of Suzy Lamplugh but in 2002 the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him. Despite this police said in a rare press conference that they believed he was responsible although Cannan has denied it. He is currently due for parole.
Another case Mick said he will never forget was his run in with the Chelsea Headhunters – a notorious English football hooligan firm linked to the London football club Chelsea. He was given a Commissioner’s Commendation for bravery during this action.
“During Chelsea v Middlesbrough in May 1988 I was involved in the arrest of one of the Chelsea Headhunters. The Headhunters had been a subject of a major undercover infiltration called Operation Own Goal. Although I was not involved in that infiltration I got involved on that day. I was beaten up and put through a pane glass window but was able to arrest the main ringleader.”
Once his time as a CID officer concluded in 2000 Mick had a short stint working on the domestic violence unit. He said it exposed him to the “sad world” of abuse that often happened behind closed doors.
He said: “The domestic violence [I saw] was predominantly violence against women but I discovered a great deal of violence by women on their husbands or male partners. The powers that be were not impressed by my revelations but I stuck to my guns and got a few prosecutions against women. Things have changed since then. No violence is to be tolerated but violence within the home or within a so-called relationship is such a sad world.”
For the remaining nine years of his service Mick joined a murder squad. The groups would work together to solve both current and cold murder cases. At the time he said London had around 27 murder teams with each working on around three cases at once. “I was involved in some aspect of over 100 murders in the nine years on the murder teams,” he said.
But that didn’t make the callous individuals he met any less memorable – one of the most notable being “cold-blooded” rapist and murderer David Smith. Smith was convicted of murdering 21-year-old sex worker Amanda Walker after witnesses saw him pick her up near Paddington Station. Her blood-soaked clothes were found near Smith’s home in an alley in Hanworth before her body was discovered six weeks later miles away in Surrey.
A DNA match on her clothing meant Smith had already been arrested by the time she was found – and Mick was the man who brought him in. “Smith was a large man and more than 6ft tall,” Mick said. “He was nicknamed the Honey Monster. When we got to the property he was actually walking out of the front door. Knowing he was a big man I thought we were going to have a fight on our hands. In actual fact he just broke down and cried and called for his mother.
“He was an interesting character but definitely a cold-blooded murderer. Although he was acquitted of a murder years prior to that he was a long-distance lorry driver so I think there are probably bodies up and down the country because of him.”
Mick was also involved with merciless killer John Sweeney who committed a string of murders across Europe. He is still serving a life sentence for his crimes which included cutting up his ex-girlfriends’ bodies and dumping them in canals.
“He is probably one of the most terrifying men I have ever interviewed,” Mick said. “He was a complete psychopath and a cold-blooded murderer. He was cold about everything. He showed no remorse and was matter of fact about the fact he cut people up and murdered them. But although I have painted him as a monster murderers don’t come with fangs and horns. They are ordinary-looking people. It’s the brain that makes them killers.”
The final case Mick worked on as part of the murder squad was the cold case of Eve Stratford and Lynne Weedon who were both murdered in 1975 in different ends of London. Eve was a bunny girl at the Playboy Club in Mayfair while Lynne was a 16-year-old schoolgirl. “Both were linked with familial DNA in about 2007. I became the family liaison officer for both families until I retired,” Mick said. Following Mick’s retirement his son Cerith – who is now a detective sergeant in the Met – was tasked with investigating the same case “by sheer coincidence”.
Although Mick said he was driven in his career by a desire to bring justice to families and individuals whose lives had been ripped apart by the most unimaginable grief he said it didn’t come without sacrifice in his own personal life. The father-of-two and granddad-of-four said: “I was married twice – the pressure of the job certainly did affect my personal life. I was hardly home because I had to work really long hours.”
He said having his own children also made aspects of the job more emotionally challenging, adding: “I think when you have your family and your own children you can relate what you see to them. I remember going to a post-mortem of a 14-year-old boy while my son was 14 at the time. With knife crime as it is these days I thought: ‘That could easily be my son lying there.’ You think about these things but you learn how to be hardened to them in the end – you have to do your job and get justice for the families.”
If his three-decade career at the Met wasn’t enough Mick collected a further series of extraordinary jobs when he left. “I then went to Northern Ireland to review the sectarian killings that happened during the troubles,” he said. “I dealt with the families of those who were murdered on both sides of the divide including Catholics, Protestants, the Army, and the police. I learnt so much about what really happened over there and the vicious bloody killings that went on. It was very rewarding and every single case was so sad.”
Mick then went on to investigate war crimes in Iraq before he found himself running a quarantine hotel during the coronavirus pandemic. He now works in immigration and makes regular trips home to Brynamman where he looks after his elderly parents. Whenever he visits his beloved local rugby club he steps back and wonders how his life would have been if he followed his heart and stayed in Wales. He said: “I still look at the team photograph in Brynamman rugby club to this day and say to myself: ‘that team nearly stopped my career’.”