New ITV Cymru Wales documentary No Body Recovered airs on Thursday, 29 July at 9pm on ITV1, and follows the investigation team, as they attempt to solve just what happened to Mike O’Leary. With exclusive access to the detectives, crime scene investigators and forensic specialists, it follows the complex and challenging rare murder investigation, without a body.
There was no sign of Mike O’Leary and in the days after his disappearance the team grew increasingly concerned and suspicious. After tracking Mr O’Leary’s work phone to a derelict farm owned by Andrew Jones, they turned their attention to the local builder, businessman and friend of Mike O’Leary.
For Detective Chief Inspector Paul Jones, senior investigating officer on the case, Andrew Jones was their worst nightmare as a suspect. “First of all he’s somebody with no previous convictions, never come to police attention, apart from he’s a very successful businessman. But he’s a builder, he has access to machinery, access to ongoing building sites, building works, foundations, his capability to dispose of a body is I would say probably the most difficult one to investigate.”
With the last known sighting of Mike O’Leary at Andrew Jones’s derelict farm the team begin their searches of acres of land and numerous buildings, desperate for clues. A police sniffer dog points at two shirt buttons in some gravel in front of the old house and after forensic examination under a microscope, the buttons reveal a tiny trace of blood. It was invisible to the naked eye, but DNA analysis on this blood proves it’s Mike’s.
Eventually, Andrew Jones admits meeting Mike O’Leary on the night he went missing, and is the last person to have seen him. But without a body they can’t prove Mike is dead – and so Andrew Jones cannot be charged with his murder.
Clutching at straws, as officers trawl through hours of CCTV footage from local homes, in the hope it might reveal further evidence, they have a breakthrough and find footage of Mike’s truck being driven to the riverside. Mobile phone data suggests it’s Andrew Jones driving. Another CCTV camera then shows a cyclist making the return journey a short time later, heading in the direction of the derelict farm. Detectives are convinced it’s Andrew Jones on the bike, having ditched his murdered friend’s truck.
Paul Jones says: “We literally had minutes left on the custody clock when the call came through to say yes, charge with murder. So yeah, relief, but certainly it’s only the start of the enquiry. A lot of people don’t understand that once you charge somebody that’s pretty much the beginning of it. We’ve got a huge amount of work to do. We haven’t located Mike, we still haven’t tied up a lot of loose ends, we have a load of digital work to do, there’s just so much more to do.”
The next seven months was a challenging time for the investigation team as they searched tens of acres of land, river beds and 70 tonnes of rubble taken from Jones’ builders yard, in a desperate search for evidence.
But despite the complications of Storm Dennis and restrictions of coronavirus, nothing was going to stop them.
“Nobody can remember anything like it during their time in the force, but one thing was certain – nothing was going to stop this investigation. The team was determined that they were going to do everything within their power to give answers to the family and Covid-19 wasn’t going to stop us,” said Llŷr Williams, Deputy SIO on the investigation.
ITV Cymru Wales documentary team exclusively got access to tapes of Jones being questioned by detectives, where he refuses to reveal what he has done with Mike’s body saying: “I want to go home to see my family that’s all.”
“We will never know exactly what he has done with Dad – that’s something that we think about all the time,” said Wayne O’Leary.
“What he did to Dad, there is no way of undoing what he did – there are no words …”