Welsh Police Offer Apology To Family Of Man Wrongfully Executed 70 Years Ago

The family of a man who was wrongfully executed 70 years ago for a murder he did not commit have finally received an apology from police.

Police have finally issued an apology to the family of a man wrongfully executed 70 years ago
Police have finally issued an apology to the family of a man wrongfully executed 70 years ago

British Somali, Mahmood Hussein Mattan, a former seaman, was hanged on 3 September 1952 at Cardiff prison after being convicted of murdering 41-year-old Lily Volpet, a shopkeeper at a clothing store in the city. Mr Mattan, who was just 28 years old at the time, had his conviction revoked at the Court of Appeal following a battle by his widow Laura to prove his innocence that lasted 46 years.

His widow and three sons have all since died, however, South Wales Police has finally issued a formal apology to his surviving family members, confessing that the case against Mr Mattan was "flawed".

Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said: "There is no doubt that Mahmood Mattan was the victim of a miscarriage of justice as a result of a flawed prosecution, of which policing was clearly a part.

"This is a case very much of its time - racism, bias, and prejudice would have been prevalent throughout society, including the criminal justice system.

"Even to this day, we are still working hard to ensure that racism and prejudice are eradicated from society and policing."

Mahmood Hussein Mattan
Laura Mattan, (centre) flanked by her two sons Omar (left) and Mervyn (right), campaigned for 46 years to have her husband’s murder conviction overturned

The family of Mr Mattan said they welcomed the apology - however, one of his six grandchildren labeled it as "insincere" and suggested the police have only now issued the apology because of an upcoming BBC podcast surrounding the case.

The daughter of Mr Mattan's middle son, Omar, told the BBC: "It's far too late for the people directly affected as they are no longer with us and still, we are yet to hear the words I am/we are sorry."

Ms Volpert was killed in her shop in the docklands area of Cardiff on 6 March 1952, she was found with her throat slashed and £100 taken from her.

A key witness in the murder trial, Harold Cover, told authorities that he had seen Mr Mattan leaving the shop.

It took only a few hours before the former seaman was arrested, even though he had reliable witnesses vouching for his alibis and there was a severe lack of forensic evidence linking him to the crime.

Mr Mattan was charged and convicted by an all-white jury at the Glamorgan Assizes in Swansea during a three-day trial.

In 1998 the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction after hearing evidence that Harold Cover was not a credible witness. The court agreed that the descriptions given to police by Cover did not match that of Mattan, Harold Cover was also later convicted of attempting to murder his own daughter by slashing her throat.

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