Lynette White: Murder police 'manufactured case'

Eight ex-police officers manufactured a case against three innocent men following the murder of prostitute Lynette White, a jury has been told.

The 20-year-old was killed in 1988 in the flat in Cardiff where she worked.

The prosecution said men who became known as the Cardiff Three were jailed for a crime they did not commit.

At Swansea Crown Court the former officers deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and two other people deny perjury. The trial continues.

Ms White was found stabbed with more than 50 stab wounds on 14 February 1988 in an upstairs flat above a betting shop in Cardiff's docklands.

But detectives were stumped after nine months, the jury was told.

They invented a fictional scenario which was "almost entirely a fabrication and was largely the product of the imagination," the court heard.

The former officers are accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by agreeing to "mould, manipulate, influence and fabricate evidence".

Nicholas Dean QC, prosecuting, told the jury that their combined actions were responsible for sending three innocent men to jail.

Image caption In 2003 a client of Lynette White - Jeffrey Gafoor - admitted her murder

Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi - who has since died - and Tony Paris were convicted in 1990 of the murder.

Cousins Ronnie and John Actie, who stood trial with those who became known as the Cardiff Three, were acquitted.

But in 1992 the convictions were quashed by the court of appeal and they were released from jail.

'Absolutely extraordinary'

Mr Dean told jurors the original murder investigation had faced "real difficulties" and was going nowhere until November 1988.

He said that what happened between mid-November and mid-December was "absolutely extraordinary."

The court was told that health centre receptionist Violet Perriam suddenly came forward with what looked like "the key that would unlock the door" even though she worked just yards from the scene and had kept quiet for nine months.

"Her evidence led to a breakthrough in the case," added Mr Dean. "It was actually false. It was lies."

Mrs Perriam, he said, knew some of the police officers working on the case and the reason she did not come forward earlier was that she did not have any truthful information, only lies.

The court heard she told detectives she had been driving home along James Street about 0130 GMT on February 14 1988 and saw four men standing yards away from the flat where Ms White's body was.

They appeared to be arguing and gesticulating and she was able to describe them.

It led to "police officers manufacturing a case against the five men who were charged with Lynette White's killing".

Mr Dean added: "It was a story, a fiction.

"It was a story that did not begin to explain how Lynette or any of the men in question came to be together nor why any of them, let alone the five acting together, should participate in a brutal and savage murder of a girl most of the men barely knew.

Mr Dean said not only did the five hardly know Ms White but they hardly knew each other.

He added, "There was no disturbance outside James Street.

"Why Mrs Perriam should have lied we cannot say. It might simply be because of dislike for John Actie. It might be that Mrs Perriam was primed and prompted by police officers to help them out when the investigation had reached an impasse - and that she may have agreed to do a favour not realising just what would be involved in her co-operation."

Guilty plea

Mrs Perriam and Ian Massey "told clear and deliberate lies about one or more of the five men. They told those lies in court and under oath - they perjured themselves."

In 2003 Jeffrey Gafoor, a client of Ms White, pleaded guilty to her murder and is now serving a life sentence.

Three of the men before the court are retired senior officers - Chief Insp Thomas Page, Chief Insp Graham Mouncher and Supt Richard Powell.

The five other retired police officers are Michael Daniels, Peter Greenwood and John Seaford, while Paul Jennings and Paul Stephen were serving officers at the time of arrest.

They are all jointly accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Violet Perriam and Ian Massey, with Mr Mouncher, are also each accused of two counts of perjury, which they deny.

Four other former policemen are also jointly accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and will stand trial separately next year.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it believed this would be the biggest trial of police officers in British legal history.

Jurors have been told it is likely to last six months or longer.

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