“Hi Adam, are you at this address? Can we come in?”
It was half past 10 at night on Saturday 3rd December 2016 when my phone started ringing. A private number was calling. Usually I’d ignore private numbers but, for some reason, this time, I answered. It was a detective, and that’s when he asked me the above questions. And so began the most surreal time of my life.
Before I could get up, the door knocked. At this point I was in a flat and the only way to get in was to be buzzed in through the front so both myself and my then new partner were surprised by how someone had got in without us letting them in. I looked through the peephole on the door and saw a group of men, some in heavy gear. I opened the door.
“Hello, is Danny here?”
Around 10 police, several fully kitted out ready for more than just a chat, come in to the flat. Me and my partner are practically separated to different sides of the room. Every part of the flat from the bedroom to the loft to underneath the sofa bed are searched. There’s utter confusion. Why are they looking for my mate? What has happened? is he ok? has he done something? Has something happened to him? All answers to these questions would become painfully clear very suddenly.
Sat down for questioning, I decided to ask – and I remember word for word – “I know this seems a silly thing to ask right now, but, is Dan alright?” I was told that they wanted to ensure his safety but, almost chillingly, left saying to me “If he calls, ignore it. If he texts, ignore it. If he turns up at the front door, no matter what he says, don’t let him in. Call us immediately.”
We were left with a business card and a case reference number to use if there was any contact or further information. Shaking, I turned to my partner and just said “What the fuck has he done? What the fuck just happened?” She took the card from me and googled the reference number. And then we found the news story; a body had been found at an address. I saw the picture of the house. I collapsed to the floor.
I met Dan at work. We’d often joke about the fact that the first time we met each other we both disliked each other. Somewhere along the way, over a few beers (as was always the way with us), that changed. In a relatively short time we’d gone from just being work colleagues to being best mates. Often referred to as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum at work, we were practically inseparable.
As our friendship grew we started talking to each other about everything. We were both someone to confide in for the other person and there was no area that we felt we couldn’t discuss together. I loved him, and I do honestly believe the feeling was mutual. He got me through some tough times, and likewise I felt I had helped him through some of his.
We got to know each others families, and I had also brought Dan in to my circle of friends from uni and before. The “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum” relationship had gone past being just a work relationship to being how we were viewed in the ‘real world’. In our work we’d get moved to different locations and people would ask how the other was – we were a double act.
It was with Dan’s first move that things started to go downhill for him at work. He was in a difficult place, and, for various reasons, he struggled. At this point, we spoke on the phone every day. After months of struggling, Dan ended up taking some time off work. I felt desperately for him. He was very good at what he did, but for some reason it just wasn’t happening for him. His stubbornness played against him at times, he didn’t necessarily have the best relationships with certain people, and although I always felt there were things he could do (I often tried to discuss this with him), you could tell he was lost. He’d lost the motivation for the job and wanted out.
As any mate would over a time like this, I’d invite him round to mine for a few drinks every now and then to try to help build him back up. We’d talk for hours about anything and everything. I wanted him to be better, and I really hoped that I could help him. Around this time Dan told me he was going to leave our work and go in to floor laying with his mate. He seemed genuinely excited and it felt like the old Dan was back. I was over the moon for him.
Over the next 4 or 5 years, things seemed to be flourishing for Dan and his floor laying business. He’d speak to me about new contracts that they were getting; big contracts with hotels and hospitals up and down the country. They’d had to hire a couple of lads and get a unit on an industrial estate due to their growth. My mate had made it, he was happy, and I was made up for him.
The day after police had come to the flat looking for Dan, me and my partner were still not sure what was going on. We’d been advised that we weren’t to contact Dan, but were assured that they were looking for him for his safety. Hanging over this was the fact we knew a dead body had been found at his address.
Two detectives came to the flat to see us for questioning. By the time they were with us the news had broke that the dead body was Dan’s Dad. Even at this point I was thinking ‘maybe somebody broke in, maybe Dan’s been taken’. The detectives sat on the sofa and asked if we’d seen the news, “You know how serious this is, then?”
I was asked about the last contact I’d had with Dan. I explained that we’d arranged that he was going to help get a bed to the flat, that he was going to use his work van to bring it over but due to his Dad being unwell he’d not been able to do it. The two detectives looked at each other puzzled.
“The way you’re looking at each other I get the feeling I’ve said something that can’t be true?” I asked.
For the first time in 5 years, I found out Dan didn’t have his own business, he didn’t have a work van and he didn’t work in floor laying. I found out from the two detectives sat in front of me that the person I thought I knew like the back of my hand was actually a stranger.
It suddenly started to dawn that the worst fears I had were most likely true but I didn’t want to believe it. I was clinging on to some weird hope that it couldn’t be, that there was more to it. I just couldn’t grasp the thought that he could have killed his Dad.
Early June 2016, I went to London to see AC/DC with my Dad. I was in a long term relationship but I felt like I was just going through the motions, not really enjoying it. I was coming back home on Dan’s birthday and he said he’d meet me at the train station and we’d have a drink to celebrate. I spoke to him about how I was feeling and explained that I was going to have a chat at home but expected it to go only one way. Dan offered me a place to stay if it came to it.
One week later, I was in Dan’s spare room, staying with him and his Dad. Over the next 5 months I effectively classed his house as my ‘base’, but I also stayed in hotels and occasionally with other friends while I tried to sort myself out. Dan’s Dad was quiet, kept himself to himself, but I had a lot of time for him. I would find it awkward in the house at times, in part due to how quiet his Dad was, and also because I didn’t want to come across as intruding. Because of this, I’d try to spend a lot of time out, be it at work or just with other people.
Dan was out a lot for his work, so in a bizarre way I actually ended up seeing and talking to Dan less when I lived with him than when I didn’t.
There was never anything that stood out as odd in the house or with the relationship between Dan and his Dad. I remember us all watching one of the utterly awful England matches from Euro 2016 and us all talking football. It was just normal.
Everyone has watched news programmes or documentaries about criminals where a neighbour is interviewed and says something like, “Well, you just wouldn’t imagine it, he/she was such a quiet person, always seemed alright…”
For years I’d watch those interviews and think that they must have been stupid to not realise that something wasn’t quite right. Suddenly, I was that guy. I was the idiot.
For the next week following the search of the flat I was faced with at least one moment of contact with the police every day. Some days I’d be the first to get in touch, other days they’d call me. I felt like I was living a TV drama. At one stage there was even the discussion of using me to try to contact Dan as if nothing had happened to see if we could find where he was. It was unreal.
I spent a fair bit of time in a daze throughout this period. The story had hit the news, and some people at work had put two and two together (I was now working in the same place Dan had been placed before leaving the company) and I remember hearing people discussing it then stopping when they noticed me.
I sat on lunch one day and after hearing that police believed his Dad’s car was in Wales I checked on my messages to see if I could find anything to give an idea of who he could see in Wales. To my shock I noticed Dan was ‘Active Now’, for the first time in some time, on Facebook Messenger. I called the police and let them know. I didn’t know if it would matter, if they knew…in my head I believed that they’d be able to use this information to hopefully pinpoint his location.
I have no idea whether my call did help but the next day as I drove to Birmingham to see Biffy Clyro I got a call from the detective to say they’d found Dan, and he was safe. By the time I’d got back to my car after the gig the story was on the news that he had been charged with murder.
It was an absolutely shattering moment. I’d had an amazing time at the gig, had the usual post-gig euphoric feeling and then an immediate crash. The realisation that my best mate was a murderer was something I can’t truly explain. I thought I knew him better than anybody, but over the course of five days found that I knew very little.
I felt broken hearted. Two days later, two detectives came to my work to interview me for a statement. I felt nervous beyond belief but in reality I had no reason to be. I just didn’t know what to think. A couple of hours later and I’d given my character reference. The female detective, on her way out, turns to me and says, “only two people know what happened that night and why. One of them is Dan, the other one is dead.”
Nearly 15 months have passed and it’s still hard to believe what happened. I didn’t attend at court due to wishes of the family but the media reported the horror of it all. Sixty stab wounds, twenty hammer blows. I felt physically sick when I saw the news. I felt even worse when I saw the CCTV that the police released showing Dan’s actions afterwards. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get over how ‘normal’ he appeared to be.
I feel so sorry for his Mum and his younger brother, who in reality has lost both a father and a brother needlessly. And, although a reason won’t change anything, I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and pain they have faced with no reason given as to why it happened.
I’d been thinking about writing this post for some time; debating how to write it, whether to do it as just a personal piece of writing or to share the story. Writing is something I’ve always found therapeutic and I still often find it easier to get things out through my writing.
The whole situation changed me. I find that I have a much harder time trusting people now, and I guess the best way I can describe how I felt was actually to compare it to grief. I seemed to go through so many emotions it was unbelievable.
The sadness and the anger I felt were unparalleled and the closest I’d come to those feelings at any other time was when my Mum passed away. I couldn’t understand the lies over the past years, and it eats at me to know that I’ll never understand why he felt the need to do it. It pains me that the lies seem to have continued even now as I was told to expect a letter, but it never came because a guard was sacked for throwing mail away.
I felt a ton of guilt, too. This may seem the strangest thing for people to understand but I felt insanely guilty. In my head, I kept thinking “I should have been there for him more. I could have helped him. If he’d opened up to me would it have happened?” I beat myself up. It took so long to stop doing that and realise that the chances of me doing anything that could have changed things were slim to none.
I felt, and still do feel, so confused about it all. On some days I wish I knew why things happened, from the lies to the actual act of murder itself, but then other days I don’t want to know at all.
And then comes this; the fact that, regardless of what happened, I find myself missing him. I absolutely loved the guy. When I did my character statement I explained how he was a person that you always felt you could depend upon if you needed someone. But the reality is, that wasn’t all him. I miss a character. I miss someone that was, in some part, make believe. I don’t know how much of the Dan I knew was the ‘real’ Dan and when I think about that, and the fact that this guy was so important to me, it makes me genuinely sad.
My life has changed to such a positive degree since this all happened, and it hurts to think the guy that seriously helped me out when I needed it may not actually really be the guy that helped me out.
I’ve not been to see him since the arrest. My stance is that I never will because my life is in such a different place and I don’t want that tie. I also know that if I was to go I’d be a wreck, I’d be unable to handle it and, simply, I don’t want that. I won’t forget, and I dare say I’ll never forgive what he put his family through and what he put me through.
It’s difficult to not think about the guy I knew, and it’s difficult to think of that guy behind bars. But who is that guy? I’ll never know.