Police officers charged over 'Cardiff Three' miscarriage of justice

'Fabricated' evidence used to convict men of killing prostitute
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The Independent Online

Thirteen police officers are to be charged with perverting the course of justice, 21 years after they allegedly "moulded, manipulated and fabricated" evidence to secure convictions against three men wrongly accused of killing a prostitute.

Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Anthony Paris were jailed in 1990 for the murder of Lynette White, a 20-year-old sex worker who was stabbed more than 50 times in a flat in Cardiff in 1988.

The men – dubbed The Cardiff Three – protested their innocence and were freed on appeal in 1992. More than 10 years later, in 2003, Jeffrey Gafoor, a security guard from Llanharan, near Bridgend, admitted to the murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Last year, three witnesses in the 1990 trial – neighbour Mark Grommek and prostitutes Angela Psaila and Leanne Vilday – were convicted of perjury after they admitted lying under oath. They claimed they were bullied into making false statements by the police.

Theirs were the first convictions in an investigation which has seen 34 people arrested, including 15 retired police officers and five serving officers. Yesterday, the Crown Prosecution Service and South Wales Police announced that 15 of the 34 will be charged. The number includes three serving police officers, nine retired officers, a serving member of police staff and two more witnesses from the original trial.

It is believed to be the largest number of officers ever charged with such an offence after a quashed conviction

Tom Davies, from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said: "It is vitally important for public confidence in the police service and the complaints process that the full story of this investigation is told in public. The trial of these 15 people will enable that to happen."

Mr Miller, Mr Abdullahi and Mr Paris were forced to stand trial twice, in 1989 and 1990, after the original judge died midway through the first case. In the dock alongside them during both trials were the cousins Ronald and John Actie, but they were acquitted of murder at the end of the second trial.

In a statement, Mr Miller, Mr Paris, Mr Abdullahi, John Actie and the family of his deceased cousin Ronald said they never regained the lives they had before they were allegedly "fitted up". They said: "Our lives have been utterly destroyed by being branded brutal murderers."

Yesterday, Colette Paul, the Assistant Chief Constable of South Wales Police, said: "Today's developments will once again bring back painful memories for Lynette's family and friends and all who knew her. It is now over 21 years since Lynette died and her family have endured a great deal of heartache."

Serving officers John Murray, Paul Stephen and Paul Jennings, all detective constables at the time of the original inquiry, have been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, as have retired detective constables Rachel O'Brien, Michael Daniels, Bryan Gillard, John Seaford and Peter Greenwood, retired chief inspectors Thomas Page and Graham Mouncher, retired superintendent Richard Powell, retired detective sergeant Stephen Hicks and serving police staff member Wayne Pugh. Two witnesses at the original trial, Ian Massey and Violet Perriam, have also been charged with the same offence.

All have been summonsed to appearin court on 24 April.

Wrongful convictions: Police in the dock

*Guildford Four

In 1975, Paul Michael Hill, Gerard Conlon, below, Patrick Armstrong and Carole Richardson were convicted of pub bombings the previous year in Surrey which killed five. They were jailed for 14 years. Their convictions were quashed in 1989. Charges against three police officers over fabricating evidence were dismissed.

*Birmingham Six

Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker were sentenced to life in 1975 for two pub bombings that killed 21. After their convictions were overturned in 1991, 14 prison officers were charged with assault but were found not guilty. Three policemen were charged with perjury. The case collapsed.

*Bridgewater Four

Carl Bridgewater, 13, was shot dead in 1978 after stumbling across a burglary in Staffordshire. In 1979, Patrick Molloy, Jim Robinson, Michael Hickey and Vincent Hickey were convicted of the crime. Their convictions were quashed in 1997. A case against four officers for fabricating evidence was dropped in 1998.