The murder of Lynette White: The story of one of Britain's biggest miscarriages of justice

20-year-old Lynette White was murdered by Jeffrey Gafoor in 1988, but he was not convicted of the crime until 2004. Credit: South Wales Police/PA

It has been 35 years since the murder of Lynette White on Valentine's Day in 1988.

The 20-year-old was brutally stabbed to death in Butetown, Cardiff.

What followed resulted in one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British legal history and by 1999, the case was still unsolved.

It was not until a world-leading forensic scientist Dr Angela Gallop and her team were brought in, along with new detectives, that the case was eventually cracked.

Although it led to Lynette's real killer being eventually put behind bars, those involved in the case say it continues to have an impact on them to this day.

What happened to Lynette White?

20-year-old Lynette White, described as a "bubbly" and "nice girl", had been working as a sex worker in the docks area of Cardiff.

Detectives investigating the brutal murder had been renewing appeals for information but over a decade later, they had no new leads. Credit: South Wales Police/PA

Her body was discovered in a small, blood-stained flat on top of a betting shop in Butetown, having been stabbed over 50 times.

Who was wrongly convicted of killing Lynette White?

At the beginning of their hunt for Lynette's killer, police officers issued an e-fit of a white man as the main suspect.

Witnesses claimed he was seen in the vicinity of the flat at the time of the murder wearing bloodstained clothes, but he was unable to be traced.

But it was five black men who were later arrested and accused of Lynette White's murder: Stephen Miller, John Actie, Ronnie Actie, Tony Paris and Yusef Abdullahi.

The "Cardiff Three" were freed by the Court of Appeal. Credit: PA

Their trial concluded in 1990, with cousins John and Ronnie Actie acquitted of the crime – but only after spending two years in custody.

However, Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi and Stephen Miller were all found guilty of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Who were the Cardiff Three?

The trio later became known by campaigners as the "Cardiff Three".

A major campaign got underway calling for the case to be revisited.

There was no forensic evidence to link those accused to the scene of Lynette's murder, and it was later revealed that South Wales Police allegedly bullied and intimidated the men into giving false confessions.

Tony Paris was one of three men, known as the Cardiff Three, who was wrongfully convicted of Lynette White's murder in November 1990. Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Archive/PA Images

The Cardiff Three were acquitted by the Court of Appeal in 1992, ruling that a gross miscarriage of justice had taken place.

Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi and Stephen Miller each had their convictions overturned.

But police faced the challenge that Lynette's real killer was still out there.

How was Lynette White's real killer tracked down?

World-leading forensic scientist Dr Angela Gallop was called upon to lead the forensic re-examination of the case in 1999.

Her expert analysis of the blood splatter patterns at the crime scene led to her finding small traces of the suspect's blood in the flat – almost a decade later.

With more advanced forensic advances at her disposal than those which were available in 1988, the partial DNA profile of a man was made – one that did not match those previously accused of the crime.

A further familial DNA search eventually led police to one potential match – a security guard named Jeffrey Gafoor.

Gafoor provided a sample and it proved to be the perfect match.

It was the first time familial DNA profiling had been used to effectively catch a killer in this way.

Jeffrey Gafoor was found through a familial DNA search that linked a mystery DNA profile at the crime scene to his family. Credit: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

When officers arrested Gafoor in his home they discovered he had taken an overdose.

He then confessed to murdering Lynette.

Is Jeffrey Gafoor still in jail?

Gafoor was convicted of the murder in 2004 – 16 years after Lynette's death – and jailed for life.

The sentencing judge said that he should serve a minimum of 13 years before being considered for parole.

Last month the Parole Board considered whether he should be set free.

The Parole Board can only direct release if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public. Credit: Media Wales

A report to the Ministry of Justice confirms that Gafoor “had successfully undertaken temporary releases from prison”.

Gafoor has not been deemed suitable for release "at this stage" but will be eligible for another parole review in due course.

Catch up on Cold Case Forensics: The Murder of Lynette White on ITVX.

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