Like many adults on the autistic spectrum, Trewen was diagnosed late in life. He had been diagnosed with epilepsy and dyspraxia at an early age, was statemented in school and was given speech therapy and physiotherapy. But although the family were told that Trewen probably had autism, getting a diagnosis was impossible at the time and the family decided to concentrate on Trewen’s strengths rather than give him any more more labels. The significance of here is that specific learning difficulties such as dyspraxia are ‘protected characteristics’ under PACE requiring the presence of an ‘appropriate adult’, and so the fact that Trewen did not have a diagnosis of autism at the time he was arrested was no reason to deny him an appropriate adult, and the police were in breach of PACE by denying him one.
This is Trewen’s story:
On Christmas eve 2013, Trewen Kevern’s mother’s cousin, Kevin Cooper, was thrown out of his parents’ home and had no were to stay. Trewen’s sister, Tammy, offered to let him sleep on her couch until he found somewhere else to stay. This was the beginning of a Kafkaesque nightmare that would end in Trewen being sentenced for 20 years for a murder he didn’t commit.
During the time he spent with Tammy, Cooper became acquainted with a 72 year old man, David Anderson, who lived in the flat above Tammy’s. Alderson had been ‘adopted’ by Trewen’s family and was affectionally referred to by Trewen, his sister and her two small sons as ‘Grandad’. Although Trewen lived with his parents, he frequently visited his sister and nephews at his sister’s flat where Alderson ate his meals and used the washing machine.
Alderson had a boat and Trewen would often accompany him to collect things, help him with chores and make road trips to the local tip. Alderson was a generous man who would help anyone in need. Shortly after Cooper arrived on the scene Alderson gave him £1000 to help him out. Cooper, who had mental health and drug abuse problems, became aware that Anderson had a safe in his flat containing a substantial amount of money. Alderson was also an avid gun collector and member of the Penzance gun club. Cooper told Alderson that he was able to acquire some guns that Alderson was interested in acquiring, and so began the plot that would lead to Alderson’s murder.
Cooper and Alderson had arranged to collect the guns on the 17th of January 2014. As usual, Trewen went to his sister’s flat that evening to visit her and his nephews. That evening, Alderson asked Trewen if he would accompany him and Cooper to collect some stuff. Perhaps Alderson did not entirely trust Cooper and felt safer having Trewen along. But whatever the reason, the three set off in Alderson’s car that evening. It wasn’t until on their way that Trewen overheard Cooper and Anderson discussing the gun deal. Trewen wanted to go home but they were already near the destination. On arriving at the place, Trewen said he didn’t want to go with them and stayed stayed in the car.
After waiting some time it started to get dark and Trewen, being frightened of the dark, went in search of the other two men because he wanted to go home. Eventually Trewen came across Cooper and asked where ‘Grandad’ was, at which point Cooper said that he had killed him. Cooper took Trewen to where Alderson was lying face down in a pool of water. When Trewen bent down to try and pull Alderson from the water, Cooper pushed him to the ground and threatened him that if he told anyone what he had seen he would kill Trewen’s sister Tammy and her young sons. Cooper then drove Trewen back to Falmouth, dropped him off, and returned to Alderson’s flat where he emptied the contents of the safe, a sum of around £40,000.
Cooper, part of a Cornish Romany/traveller community, brought the money to Trewen’s house where he hid it to keep it safe. To explain to Trewen’s mother how he had come by the money he told her that it was money owed to him by the Lees family of Carharrack. When Trewen’s mother questioned him about the event, Trewen told her the story that Cooper had made him rehearse: that the three men had driven to Carharrack, Trewen got out of the car and stayed in the village while Cooper and Alderson went to buy the guns, they then drove back and dropped Trewen off at his parent’s house before continuing back to his and Trewen’s sister’s flat where Cooper had been staying. The story continues that later Cooper and Trewen went to the Lees caravan site and Trewen waited at the top of the lane while Cooper went to get money that the Lees owed him—a way of explaining how he had acquired such a large sum of money.
It wasn’t until the following Sunday, 19th January, that news was reported on TV that a body had been found matching the description of Alderson who had not been seen for a couple of days. Cooper had told Trewen’s family that Alderson was spending a couple of days on his boat. On Monday the 20th January Trewen’s father identified the body and Trewen’s mother confronted Cooper and said she was going to contact the police. Cooper took the money and went on the run. The following day Trewen’s mother contacted the police to tell them she thought that Cooper might be involved in someway in Alderson’s death. The absurdity is that at first the police refused to believe her, they were convinced that Alderson’s injuries had been sustained in a complex bicycle accident.
The family were later informed by a solicitor that if they had not contacted the police, Alderson’s death would have simply be put down to an accident and no murder investigation would ever have have taken place!
Wednesday 22nd January, the following day, the police interviewed Trewen at the house and when his father told the officer that Trewen had dyspraxia and autism he was told to “shut up”. At Trewen’s second interview—a videotaped ‘achieving best evidence’ (ABE) interview, at this point as a witness—he was again refused an ‘appropriate adult’ or his parents to be with him even though the police where aware of Trewen’s specific learning difficulty and had been in contact with Social Services. The interviewing officers would have been fully aware that Trewen was a ‘vulnerable adult’ under PACE (see notes re. PACE at bottom). Police conducted a second interview during a road trip they made with Trewen to identify the sight of the murder. Trewen could not find the location and instead took the police to the Lees’ gypsy camp as this is where Cooper had told Trewen to say he had got the money. Again Trewen was denied an appropriate adult during this interview and was also asked by the police to sign documents.
By the 24th February police had full access to Trewen’s medical records identifying him as vulnerable even though he did not have a firm diagnosis of autism at the time (he has since). At both interviews Trewen made false statements to protect his sister and her children from the threats made by Cooper. Trewen was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the murder in July 2014 and although he did have an appropriate adult on this occasion, the AA was someone with no knowledge of Trewen and it was his first (and last) client as an AA. The AA subsequently told the family that he was out of his depth and did not know what he was doing.
Cooper was subsequently arrested for murder and a court date set for November 2014. In the meantime, Trewen was also charged and bailed to a different address. This was because his family and girlfriend were prevented from having any contact with him as they had been called as witnesses by the prosecution—even though Trewen had been allowed to stay at home previously under his first bail. He ended up spending only ten days on remand. For the rest of the time, nearly two years, Trewen remained electronically tagged out in the community—on bail for murder—but collecting kids from school and delivering hampers to the elderly with the church, yet still unable to have contact with his family.
At Trewen’s first trial in 2015, the CPS withheld evidence that could have cleared Trewen, of a covert audio-recording of Cooper in prison telling his parents that he had two men out on the road who could blow Trewen’s sister’s head off if Trewen incriminated him. At the retrial in 2016 Cooper took the stand and blamed Trewen for the murder. The judge acknowledged that the police had made mistakes in interviewing Trewen originally but then Trewen was put through an ordeal lasting hours, grilling him about the original texts. Trewen first said that he could not remember and then provided explanations simply to please them and end his ordeal.
Several people took the stand, including an ex-prisoner who cut short a holiday abroad to attend the hearing. He gave evidence that he had overheard Cooper admitting to the killing and also of his intention to blame Trewen for the crime. When the time came for Cooper to be cross examined by the defence he refused. The defence then asked for the trial to be halted but the judge refused and insisted in the trial going ahead.
The family were then informed that Trewen could not be tried on his own for the murder and so remains guilty simply by association. The CPS have no evidence linking Trewen to the crime, they just maintain that he lied to cover up his involvement. There is no evidence that Trewen had any prior knowledge of the events that subsequently took place or that he took part in the actual killing.
The family maintain that if Trewen should be found guilty of anything at all, it would be for perverting the course of justice. But then Cooper continues with his threats against Trewen’s sisters life, and Tammy has had to move house twice because of actual threats to her family. On one occasion an ex-cell mate of Cooper’s went to her flat and tried to get into her young boys’ room. Even though the police are aware of these threats they have failed to put markers on Tammy’s address. They also refused to support Tammy’s application with the Council for a move. Instead, Tammy was supported by a group set up to support families to deal with traumatic deaths. She moved a second time because the same ex-cell mate of Cooper’s was seen in the road outside the boys school. Both Trewen and Cooper were being held in different wings of Exeter prison and there is evidence that Cooper has promised large sums of money to anyone who could get into Trewen’s cell to find out where his sister is living. Neither the judge or jury were ever made aware of these facts.
A new legal team is now working on further appeals.