Eight former police officers accused of fabricating Lynette White murder case

Trial follows jailing of three innocent men for the 1988 murder of the 20-year-old Cardiff woman, who was working as a prostitute

Eight former police officers fabricated a case against three men wrongly convicted of the brutal murder of a woman working as a prostitute, a jury was told on Wednesday.

The officers "acted corruptly together" to manufacture the case against the men they suspected killing of Lynette White in Cardiff in 1988.

Nicholas Dean QC, prosecuting, said the case was "almost entirely a fabrication" and the accusations were "largely the product of the imagination and then the theories and beliefs of police officers".

The case is believed to be the biggest trial of police officers in British legal history and could last six months. The most senior officer in the dock was a superintendent when he retired and two others were chief inspectors.

At the start of the prosecution's opening, the jury was taken back to February 1988 when White's body was found at an "unfurnished and squalid" flat above a bookmakers in the docks area of Cardiff. The 20-year-old had been "brutally stabbed and slashed".

Hundreds of people were questioned but by mid-November 1988, nine months after the killing, the investigation had got "almost nowhere", Dean told Swansea crown court.

Suddenly in December 1988 White's boyfriend, Stephen Miller, and four other men – Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and cousins Ronnie and John Actie – were arrested and charged with her murder.

In November 1990 Miller, Abdullahi and Paris were found guilty of the killing while the Acties were acquitted.

But Dean said all five were innocent. "Indeed they were more than just innocent, they simply had nothing at all to do with the killing," he said.

The three men who were found guilty were freed on appeal in 1992 and in February 2003, 15 years after the killing, another man was arrested for White's murder.

Former police officers Graham Mouncher, Richard Powell, Thomas Page, Michael Daniels, Paul Jennings, Paul Stephen, Peter Greenwood and John Seaford deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

They are accused of agreeing to "mould, manipulate, influence and fabricate evidence". Four other men are "likely" to face trial on the conspiracy charge at the end of these proceedings, the jury was told.

Mouncher also denies two charges of lying while on oath during the trials of the five men. Also in the dock are civilians Violet Perriam and Ian Massey, who each deny two charges of perjury. They are accused of telling "clear and deliberate lies" during the trials.

Dean said the "starting point" was the shocking murder in a "pretty rough" area of Cardiff. White was discovered after a friend reported that the door of the flat was locked and she feared White might be inside. Police broke in and found the body.

The investigation was always going to be problematic. "Faced as they were by the murder of a prostitute in an anonymous and squalid flat, the police were confronted by real difficulties," Dean said.

"Working the streets as she did, Lynette White would have had contact with many men who were strangers."

Dean said police had to consider White's boyfriend, Miller, who used the money she gave him from her earnings as a prostitute to fund his drug-taking, as a possible suspect.

"But otherwise the most obvious murderer was a customer, a man who might be local to the docks or Cardiff generally but who could just as easily be a visitor," said Dean.

The prosecutor reminded the jury that forensic science techniques were not as advanced as they are now.

"Today the murder scene would present a goldmine of scientific clues," said Dean. "Blood was spread around the flat and some of that blood was found to belong to someone other than Lynette White." But scientific tests did not provide the vital clue.

It was a statement given by Perriam, a receptionist at a health club, that led to a "breakthrough" in November 1988. She is accused of falsely claiming that she saw John Actie and others "at or near the scene of the murder".

Dean said the "fiction" that was to emerge was "absolutely extraordinary".

"It involved no less than five men murdering Lynette White in that small flat. It was a story that did not begin to explain how Lynette White or any of the men came to be together nor why any one of them, let alone five acting together, should participate in a brutal and savage murder of a girl most of these men barely knew."

Dean said it was not known why Perriam had allegedly given false evidence.

"It might be that Mrs Perriam was primed and prompted by police officers to help them out when the investigation had reached an impasse," he said.

The trial continues.


Steven Morris

The GuardianTramp

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