Lynette White police corruption trial collapses

A trial of eight former police officers and two civilians on charges of perverting the course of justice and perjury collapsed today at Cardiff Crown Court.  The trial judge, Mr Justice Sweeny, ruled that a fair trial was not possible following non-disclosure of relevant documents by investigating police.   This failure to bring police officers to justice has shocked surviving victims of the 1990 miscarriage of justice which led to the charges.

In 1990, Tony Paris, Steven Miller and Yusef Abdullahi (now deceased) were framed by police for the high profile murder of Lynette White in Cardiff.  They were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. John Actie and his cousin Ronnie Actie (now deceased) were also tried but acquitted after spending almost two years in prison.

Two years later, in 1992 the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions and set the men free.  At the time the police said they were not looking for anyone else.  However, in 2003, following a cold case review which utilised sensitive new DNA tests, Jeffrey Gafoor was identified as the killer of Lynette White.  Gafoor pleaded guilty to the murder and is himself now serving a sentence of life imprisonment.

Since 1990, all five men had to fight for justice over the case that was fabricated against them.[1]  It has had a devastating effect on their lives, and on those of their families. Their prolonged and difficult struggle to establish the truth finally resulted in charges being brought against police officers and civilians for fabricating evidence and committing perjury.  That trial began in front of Mr Justice Sweeney in July 2011.  It should at last have established who was responsible for the miscarriage of justice which had occurred.

Today, Tony Paris and John Actie were devastated to learn that the trial has been ended due to further procedural errors made by police.  They had looked to the criminal justice system to put right its terrible failure in the late 1980s and all the 1990s and finally to identify who was guilty of their wrongful convictions.

Tony Paris said:

“It was hard for me to have any confidence in the criminal process given how I had been let down by the system. I wanted the defendants to have a fair trial and for the jury to hear all the evidence and convict them. To find out that those standing trial will never have to account for themselves is a sick joke. “

 John Actie said:

“I was urged to have faith in the professionalism of the prosecution team and to find out that their incompetence has led to the trial being abandoned leaves me cold. It seems that it is impossible for people like me to get true justice against the police where they have seriously abused their power and devastated peoples’ lives.”

 Their solicitor Kate Maynard said:

“My clients welcome the news that there is going to be a full and detailed review of all the circumstances leading to the decision to abandon the trial.  This inquiry must have judicial or other independent oversight for my clients and the public to have any confidence in the findings. It is devastating that my clients have yet again been seriously failed by the criminal justice system. “

For more information please contact:
Kate Maynard, Partner, phone: 00 44 (0)7812 974613

[1] Stephen Miller is represented by Matthew Gold & Co.  From 2002 this firm has acted for the other four, Tony Paris,  John Actie,  Ronnie Actie (who died in September 2007) and Yusuf Abdullahi (who died in January 2011).