Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Timeline: Key events in the Lynette White murder case

Credit: PA

1988

  • February 15: Police officers search Ms White's flat in James Street, Butetown, and find her badly mutilated body in a bedroom. A major murder investigation is launched.
  • December 15: Police charge five men with Ms White's murder - her boyfriend and pimp Stephen Miller, Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi, John Actie and Ronald Actie. Following more than 19 interviews over 13 hours, Mr Miller "confesses" to police he had killed Ms White. It later transpires that Mr Miller has a mental age of 11. Police are also told that Mr Abdullahi was onboard a boat called the Coral Sea the weekend that Ms White was murdered. DNA is found at the scene - pathologists confirm it belongs to a man, but cannot say whom.

1990

  • April: Jury returns guilty verdicts on Mr Miller, Mr Paris and Mr Abdullahi - who later become known as "The Cardiff Three". The trio maintain their innocence and launch an appeal. John and Ronald Actie are cleared of murder.

1992

  • December: Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) quashes the convictions of The Cardiff Three.
Two of the 'Cardiff Three' Yusef Abdullahi (left) and Tony Paris' after they were freed. Credit: PA

1999

  • June: An independent review of the murder investigation is launched. It is led by two retired detectives with no links to South Wales Police.

2000

  • August: South Wales Police re-open Lynette White case - codenamed "Operation Mistral". DNA samples from an unknown male found at the crime scene are re-examined. No match on the UK crime database is found.

2002

  • January: Advances in forensic science leads to the development of the Second Generation Multiplex Plus test. Police are finally able obtain a reliable DNA profile with a match on the DNA database. It turns out the match belongs to a youth known to officers, who had not been born at the time of the murder. However, dogged police work later brings former security guard Jeffrey Gafoor to the attention of police.
Jeffrey Gafoor confessed to Lynette White's murder in 2003.

2003

  • February 28: Gafoor, the uncle of the youth whose DNA profile was found, is arrested by police. He tries to kill himself and tells officers after his overdose: "I did kill Lynette White. I've been waiting for this for 15 years. Whatever happens to me I deserve. I sincerely hope I die."
  • March: Gafoor is charged with Ms White's murder.
  • July: Gafoor pleads guilty to Ms White's murder. His barrister John Charles Rees QC tells Cardiff Crown Court that his client is "very sorry for the hurt and suffering" caused to Ms White's family and the five men falsely accused of her murder.
Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

2005

  • A number of officers who worked on the original investigation are arrested and interviewed. Police call the investigation "Operation Rubicon". A judge later says "no doubt, that name was chosen quite deliberately since there would indeed be a 'crossing of the Rubicon' once police suspects were arrested".

2009

  • March: The Special Crime Division of the Crown Prosecution Service charges three then-serving officers and 10 former officers involved in the original investigation with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Two civilian witnesses who featured in the original trial are also charged with perjury. All deny the charges against them.

2011

  • July: Corruption trial begins at Swansea Crown Court. It features eight of the 13 officers charged, as the courtroom is not big enough to house all defendants and their legal teams. The remaining five are scheduled to go on trial the following year.
  • December: Trial and connected legal proceedings are aborted after key documents go missing amid fears they had been destroyed. Crown admits the defendants could no longer have "confidence in the disclosure process". It emerges the case has costs the taxpayer around £30 million. The missing files are later found in a storage facility, but by that time, the case is over.

2015

  • February: Home Secretary Theresa May announces there will be a QC-led review into the collapse of the police officers' trial.

2016

  • June: Eight detectives who were cleared of attempting to pervert the course of justice in the original murder investigation see their civil case dismissed by Mr Justice Williams. Other claims are dismissed against seven other former police officers, though the judge rules two of these had been wrongfully arrested.

2017

  • July: Richard Horwell QC's review into the collapse of the police officers' trial is published and finds it fell apart "because of human errors by the police and Crown Prosecution Service rather than a deliberate attempt to cover up any crime". His lengthy report makes 17 recommendations - 14 for the police and three for the CPS - to improve the process of disclosure of evidence.

More on this story