Kevin Nunes murder investigation reopens after botched original case
The investigation into the gangland murder of Kevin Nunes is to be re-opened after serious police failings caused the original case to collapse.
Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Gareth Morgan announced a new team of detectives would be launching a fresh investigation in a bid to finally secure justice for Mr Nunes’ family 17 years after he was found dead in a country lane in Pattingham.
Five men were jailed for the killing but had their convictions overturned in 2012 when concerns over the police’s handling of the case emerged.
WATCH: Police chief on reopening murder case
The decision to re-open the case follows recommendations from Merseyside Police, which carried out a review of the evidence.
Chiefs in Liverpool made around 60 recommendations in a report to Staffordshire colleagues.
Mr Morgan admitted securing fresh convictions for the murder would be no easy task but said he believed re-opening the case was the “right thing to do”.
He said he had delivered the news personally to Mr Nunes’ family and that there was “a sense of excitement” over the development.
Detective Inspector Dan Ison has been appointed as senior investigating officer and will head up a team of officers who will “start the process again”.
The Chief Constable said none of the officers on the new team had been involved with the previous botched case and would be approaching the investigation with “fresh eyes”.
More on the murder of Kevin Nunes:
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- Kevin Nunes murder: The case that can never be closed
- Kevin Nunes' family left 'broken' after no police officer held accountable for scandal
Quizzed on whether it was appropriate for Staffordshire Police to investigate the murder given the history of the case, he said passing it to another force would take it out of his control and that the Nunes family had “endorsed” the move.
Mr Morgan, who has previously apologised to the family for the force’s failings, said: “I met with Kevin’s family yesterday to discuss my intentions and the decision that it will be investigated here in Staffordshire.
"They agree with me that it is right Staffordshire Police will investigate and are comfortable with that.
“We have a dedicated SIO [senior investigating officer] who will bring in a range of people as with any investigation.
"It will be started on the basis of where we are today.
"There is a whole range of things that need to be looked at from the initial investigation.”
WATCH: Kevin Nunes' family talk about the case
Twenty-year-old Kevin Nunes was found dead in Pattingham in 2002 having suffered five gunshot wounds.
Police said he had been taken out by rival Black Country drug mobs, the Heath Town Gang and the West Bromwich-based Raiders.
But the case collapsed when it emerged failings by detectives and the handling of the case's star witness, was never revealed to the judge, jury or barristers.
It exposed that detectives drunk alcohol with the star witness, covered-up alleged crimes committed by the witness, and that they allegedly abused overtime to boost their pay.
Mr Morgan refused to comment on whether the men originally convicted over the murder would be brought back in for questioning.
He added: “There are clearly complex legal areas we need to get around where people have been convicted.”
Mr Morgan said the family had been “badly let down” and was determined to secure justice for them.
He said: “The family are supportive of the investigation. At the end of the day this is an unsolved murder.
"Kevin’s son is now 16 years-old and he deserves justice for his dad and I would encourage anybody with information to come forward to support us bringing those responsible to justice.
"This is a family that has lived with this for a long time, a young lad has grown up without a father.
“We will be investigating in 2019 as if it happened today.
“They were badly let down. I think they were surprised with the decision I made, I don’t think they were expecting me to do it.
"I am not making promises, this is a complex murder investigation.
“This is a complex investigation, it was complex in 2002.
"I have absolute confidence in my team of colleagues.
"None of them have been involved in this before, they have all got a clean pair of eyes.”
He added: “I’m not saying this is going to be easy.
"We are not coming into this completely clean, all of these things have happened and there are a whole lot of legal issues we need to understand.”
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