Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welsh cops on trial for fabricating evidence

'Vital evidence was changed to implicate innocent men in Lynette White murder trial'

Innocent men were implicated in a high-profile murder hunt after vital evidence was 're-written', a jury was told today. Detectives investigating the murder of South Wales prostitute Lynette White had been 'stumped' after a nine-month investigation into her death, on Valentine's Day 1988, came to a standstill, a court heard.

However police suddenly acquired a crucial new line of inquiry after changes were made to a key witness statement and within three weeks of the 'development' three innocent young men were charged with her murder, it is alleged.

The body of Lynette White was discovered in a squalid first-flat in what was then the rough docklands area of Cardiff. The 20-year-old was found with more than 50 stab wounds and slashes to her throat and wrists.

Swansea Crown Court was told police conspired to bully weak-willed witnesses into agreeing with fictional accounts of the killing.

The outcome saw Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Tony Paris all eventually jailed for murder it what became known as a notorious miscarriage of justice.

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

A campaign to release the Cardiff Three eventually saw the trio freed when their convictions were quashed on appeal in 1992.

More than a decade later, Jeffrey Gafoor, a client of Ms White, admitted murdering her and is now serving a life sentence.

Police involved in the murder hunt which culminated in the jailing of innocent men were later arrested themselves. Most senior among them are ex-superintendent Richard Powell, 58, and ex-chief inspectors Thomas Page, 62, and Graham Mouncher, 59. They are accused of conspiring with Michael Daniels, 62, Paul Jennings, 51, Paul Stephen, 50, Peter Greenwood, 59, and John Seaford, 62, to pervert the course of justice. The 10 defendants deny all the charges.

Today, the spotlight turned on crucial written statements given by key witnesses to police from November 22 1988.

Nicholas Dean QC, prosecuting, said previously that the date signals the start of a 'co-ordinated and deliberate policy' to break some witnesses.

Among them, it is alleged, was Mark Grommek, a key witness in the eventual trials against the five men. He has already given evidence in the trial, claiming intense police pressure and bullying forced him to change his story.

A statement he gave to retired officer, defendant John Seaford, was highlighted by a forensic expert today. Dr Catherine Barr demonstrated how a statement written up by Seaford appeared to have been changed to implicate previously unidentified people.

She said that impressions on page 4 of the six-page statement appeared to show a previous version of page 3 had existed.

Original report here

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