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Manhunt as suspect in Welsh killing flees to Northern Ireland

By Rachel Martin

Published 22/08/2015

David Ellis was last seen leaving a ferry terminal in Belfast yesterday
David Ellis was last seen leaving a ferry terminal in Belfast yesterday
David Ellis was last seen leaving a ferry terminal in Belfast yesterday

A suspected killer is thought to have made his way to Northern Ireland in an effort to outrun the police.

Detectives on both sides of the Irish Sea have issued a missing persons appeal for two men, one of whom is believed to have killed the other before making his way from Wales to the Belfast area on a ferry.

It is believed that 40-year-old David Ellis may have killed his landlord Alec Warburton (59), who is also missing.

Detectives described the operation as a "murder investigation" despite no body being found.

Suspicions were first raised when Warburton was reported missing from his home Sketty, south Wales, on August 2.

He was last seen almost a month ago on the afternoon of Friday, July 31.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Gary Reid confirmed that his force was working with colleagues in South Wales Police to investigate the disappearance.

Following enquiries in areas including south Wales, Dyfed Powys, north Wales and Merseyside, Mr Warburton's car - a dark green Peugeot 205 Mardi Gras - was found in Birkenhead and forensically examined.

Detectives were yesterday continuing to work around the Betws y Coed area, where Mr Warburton's vehicle was driven on August 1.

Police have also appealed for any sightings of the vehicle in the Dolwyddelan area between 8.25pm on August 1 and midnight, when it is believed to have arrived in Betws y Coed.

The car returned to Swansea on Sunday morning and remained there until August 5, when it was driven to Birkenhead.

Mr Ellis is known to have travelled on the Stena Line Lagan ferry from Birkenhead to Belfast on the 10.30pm crossing on August 5.

He was seen to leave the ferry at 6.58am that day, dressed in a checked shirt, jeans and a cap carrying a distinctive holdall and rucksack.

Police have made an appeal for information on the 40-year-old, who was Mr Warburton's tenant and lived at the same address.

Detective Superintendent Paul Hurley, of the South Wales Police Specialist Crime Investigations Team, said: "Our investigation and search for Mr Warburton and Mr Ellis has extended from Swansea to North Wales and now to Northern Ireland, where we have deployed officers to work alongside the Police Service of Northern Ireland to carry out enquiries.

"Mr Ellis's whereabouts in Ireland are currently unknown. He may have friends, associates or family in Ireland offering him accommodation.

"We appeal to anyone who has seen him to come forward.

"I appeal to anyone who has seen Mr Warburton or Mr Ellis to contact the police. I appeal directly to Mr Ellis to come forward as I believe that he holds the information we need to establish the circumstances of Alec Warburton's disappearance.

"We are grateful for the support of the local community who have assisted in the search for Mr Warburton in and around Betws y Coed.

"We are also working with North Wales Police to define a search area.

"If anyone is out walking in this area and sees anything suspicious or has any information, then please contact the police."

At the press conference held yesterday in Wales, Superintendent Hurley added that investigating officers were "anxious" to speak to anyone who may have seen or even spoken to David Ellis on the Birkenhead to Belfast ferry on August 5.

Police had previously appealed for Ellis, who was caught on CCTV boarding the ferry to Belfast, to contact them directly.

Specialist officers are supporting Mr Warburton's family.

Timeline

July 31: Alec Warburton is last seen alive.

August 1: His car is driven from south to north Wales.

August 2: He is reported missing. His car arrives back in Swansea the same day.

August 5: Mr Warburton's car is driven northwards and is later found in Birkenhead.

August 6: David Ellis (40), Mr Warburton's lodger, steps off a ferry in Belfast at 6.58am. Forensic officers seen outside Mr Warburton's home.

August 11: Police say death is being treated as a murder.

August 14: Detectives appeal for help and release images of Mr Warburton's car.

August 21: Police say they have found Mr Warburton's car and the vehicle has been subject to a forensic check.

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