An ITV documentary with exclusive access to the South Wales Police Major Crime team reveals how officers caught 25-year-old student Luke Deeley, ITV News’ Sam Holder reports
Words by Lewis Denison
- This report contains distressing content
Luke Deeley told officers he’d “been on a hike, I have bro” when they approached to arrest him, but the 25-year-old art student was actually on the run for carrying out one of the most brutal attacks South Wales Police has ever investigated.
Days earlier he had entered the home of a 65-year-old stranger, grandmother June Fox-Roberts, and decapitated her with an axe.
An urgent manhunt ensued after Abi, one of June’s three children, walked into her mother’s home to find something she will never forget.
“That’s when our lives changed. I’ll never get those images out of my head,” Abi told an ITV documentary, “that’s something that I’ve got to live with for the rest of my life”.
The documentary – which will be shown on ITV at 9pm on Thursday – was filmed by a TV crew already embedded with the South Wales Police Major Crime team and begins with a 999 call that came in from Abi after finding June’s dismembered body.
It tells the horrific tale of what happened to the grandmother on November 21, 2021, and how police caught a suspect who they originally referred to as “Container Man”.
Before that, officers had no clue who to suspect and locals even began to accuse one of June’s daughters.
“It was such a horrific murder and the acts post-murder were horrendous. So we don’t know who the offender is. It’s a whodunit. We’ve got to find who this killer is and get them into custody as soon as we can,” Detective Superintendent Darren George told the documentary.
He explained how this kind of “stranger on stranger” crime where the victim is in their own house is “very, very rare”, especially given the fact June had been dismembered.
For June’s family, why someone would kill her was a mystery.
“She just loved people, she loved talking, she loved communicating,” said Abi.
Other than some “really big” bloody footprints and fresh dye in the bathroom sink indicating the suspect had changed hair colour before fleeing, officers had very little evidence to go on.
In a suspect vacuum, rumours swirled about June’s daughter Trish – who was distraught to be accused.
“Everything I have is from my mum. We were each other’s world. It was quite hurtful that people actually think I’m capable of doing something like that,” she said.
But then police were informed of Container Man by a member of the public who had discovered a “dirty guy” emerging from the back of a wagon in the tyre yard where he worked.
The man also appeared to be wearing some of June’s daughter Trish’s clothes.
“We didn’t know who Container Man was,” said Detective Chief Inspector Matt Powell, “we didn’t know if the killer was going to strike again”.
“So it was really important to quickly identify who they were to prevent them causing any further harm to themselves or anyone else within that community.”
By the time officers arrived at the tyre yard, the suspect was gone, but it would not take long for them to locate him.
They arrested him in a nearby village after finding him sitting on the floor in an alleyway, eating what appeared to be a packet of sweets.
Newport Crown Court heard how he was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been experiencing hallucinations at the time of the random attack.
The killer eventually admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He claimed he’d been told to commit the horrific crime by a “higher power”, the court head.
Mr Justice Griffiths imposed a hospital order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act and a restriction order under Section 41 – meaning Deeley can be detained indefinitely.
Passing sentence, he said: “At 1.45am on Sunday November 21 you were in her street. You discarded your cap and shoes in a garden.
“You appeared to have found an axe and you noticed the full moon. You claim to have found and put on a wolf facemask, although this has not been found.
“You thought a higher power was telling you to kill someone. You found June Fox-Roberts’ front door unlocked and went inside.
“You inflicted blunt force injuries to her head and one of these knocked her out.
“When she was on the floor you appeared to trample on her and dragged her body into the dining room, put her on tarpaulin, and then cut her head off and limbs with the axe you brought in from the garden and put them into bags that were later found in the house.”
She added: “You only did this terrible thing because of your mental illness. You have no previous convictions and there’s no evidence you had any rational motive for what you did.
“You thought you were receiving messages from what you described as a higher power and were acting out commands.
“You also had the delusional belief there was a group of individuals out to get you.”
Deeley had previously been admitted to a psychiatric hospital and had for periods stopped taking his prescribed medication.
In September 2021, he enrolled at the University of South Wales and moved into shared student accommodation in the Roath area of Cardiff.
His housemates quickly found his behaviour “challenging” and after one incident on November 11 he was asked to move out – leaving all his belongings behind.
“Upon a subsequent search of that room by the police, a quantity of artwork drawn by the defendant – demonic in nature – was recovered,” Mr Hipkin said.
In a statement issued afterwards, Mrs Fox-Roberts’ family said their “world imploded” with her death.
“June was a mother, grandmother and great grandmother and loved spending time with her extended family,” he said.
“And she was generous, if anyone had a problem, she would do anything in her power to help – which makes it so much harder to accept Luke could be so cruel to her for no reason.”
- Code Blue: The Killing of June Fox-Roberts is on ITV1 & ITVX at 9pm tomorrow.