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PSNI join probe after murdered Swansea man's tenant seen on ferry to Belfast

Police have found the victim's car but have not found a body

By Claire Williamson

Published 21/08/2015

Missing man Alec Warburton
Missing man Alec Warburton
Mr Warburton's tenant David Ellis
CCTV of Alec Warburton
Alec Warburton's car

Police investigating the murder of a 59-year-old man in Wales have said the man they are trying to trace in connection with his disappearance has travelled to Belfast.

The PSNI are assisting South Wales Police with their murder probe following the disappearance of Alec Warburton.

Detectives launched a murder investigation after Mr Warburton was reported missing from his home in Vivian Road, Sketty in Swansea on Sunday August 2.

He was last seen during the afternoon of Friday July 31.

Police are now trying to trace a tenant of Mr Warburton - 40-year-old David Ellis - who lives at the same address.

Neither Mr Warburton or Mr Ellis have been found.

CCTV footage shows Mr Ellis travelled on the Stena Line Lagan ferry from Birkenhead to Belfast on the 10.30pm crossing on Wednesday August 5 which docked at Belfast at 6.30am on Thursday August 6.

Mr Ellis was seen to leave the ferry at 6.58am that morning when he was wearing a checked shirt, jeans and a cap carrying a distinctive holdall and rucksack.

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 unknown. He may have friends, associates or family in Ireland offering him accommodation. We appeal to anyone who has seen him to come forward.

CCTV shows David Ellis boarding a ferry to Belfast
CCTV shows David Ellis boarding a ferry to Belfast

“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 you hold the information we need to establish the circumstances of Alec Warburton’s disappearance.”

Police said they have located Mr Warbuton's car following extensive enquiries in the South Wales, Dyfed Powys, North Wales and Merseyside police areas.

Mr Warburton’s car, a dark green Peugeot 205 Mardi Gras, registration M805 HFJ, was located at Birkenhead in Merseyside.

It has been subject of a full forensic examination.

A team of detectives continue to work alongside colleagues at North Wales Police to conduct enquiries in and around the Betws y Coed area.

Mr Warburton’s car was driven there on Saturday August  1 and left there at 7am on Sunday August 2. Police are appealing for any sightings of the vehicle in the Dolwyddelan area between 8.25pm on Saturday August 1 and midnight when it had arrived in Betws y Coed.

The car returned to Swansea on Sunday morning where it remained until Tuesday August 4. The car was then driven to Birkenhead on Wednesday August 5.

Det Supt Hurley added: "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 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."

Specialist officers continue to support Alec Warburton’s family.

Anyone with information should contact South Wales Police on 101 quoting occurrence number 1500280779 or the incident room on 01792 562732.

Timeline of the key events in the disappearance of Swansea man Alec Warburton

July 31: Alec Warburton is last seen alive.

August 1: Mr Warburton's car is driven from south to north Wales. The vehicle is a Peugeot 205 Mardi Gras, with the reg plate M805HFJ. It is seen going between Caersws and Betws-Y-Coed.

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

August 5: Mr Warburton's car is driven northwards again - this time to Birkenhead. It is later discovered at the Merseyside town's ferry port.

August 6: David Ellis, 40, who was Mr Warburton's lodger, steps off a ferry and arrives in Belfast at 6.58am. He is wearing a checked shirt, jeans and a cap carrying a distinctive hold-all and rucksack. Police launch a missing persons appeal. Forensic officers are seen outside Mr Warburton's home in Vivian Road, Sketty.

August 11: South Wales Police now say Mr Warburton's death is being treated as murder.

August 14: Detectives stage fresh appeal for information and release CCTV images of Mr Warburton's car.

August 21: Police say they have since found Mr Warburton's car in Merseyside - and the vehicle has been subject to a full forensic examination.

Additional reporting PA

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