Wales

Lynette White police 'threatened' witness

Eight former police officers who deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice
Image caption Eight former police officers deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

A man signed a statement saying he had heard Lynette White being murdered only after an officer threatened to charge him with the crime, it is alleged.

Paul Atkins, 56, now says he did not know the Cardiff prostitute and knew nothing about her death in February, 1988.

Three men were wrongly jailed for her murder.

Eight ex-police officers deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Two other people deny perjury.

Swansea Crown Court heard on 22 November 1988 Mr Lewis signed a statement saying that in the early hours of 14 February that year he had visited his friend Mark Grommek.

Mr Grommek occupied the flat immediately above the one Miss White was using at 7 James Street, Cardiff.

He said Mr Grommek answered the doorbell and let in a well-built black male, and returned to the flat "as white as a sheet."

The statement said shortly afterwards he could hear several men arguing inside Miss White's flat and then a "loud scream from a woman, a high-pitched scream of terror."

According to the statement, Mr Atkins said that he went to see what had happened and on the stairs met a white female with a ponytail.

The statement then said Mr Atkins claimed the woman kicked open the door of the flat and went inside.

The woman, according to the statement, said to Mr Atkins: "Come in. Come and look at the body."

The statement then said Mr Atkins went into a bedroom and saw a body "with a mass of blood over her face and on the floor".

But, Mr Atkins told Swansea Crown Court, on Thursday: "I knew nothing about the murder."

He agreed he had signed the statement at Butetown police station.

But, he told the court: "I had been there since the morning. I just wanted to get out of the police station. I didn't want to get done for murder."

He agreed he had signed the statement at Butetown police station.

But he said: "I had been there since the morning. I just wanted to get out of the police station. I didn't want to get done for murder."

Mr Atkins also agreed that the statement said that he had not been prevented from leaving the station whenever he wished and that he could have a solicitor with him.

He now he said the truth was that officers told him he could leave but if he did he would be immediately arrested and brought back inside.

The prosecution say Mr Atkins' statement was designed to fit a theory developed by officers in the months following the murder of Miss White, who was stabbed more than 50 times.

That theory resulted in Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi - who has since died - and Tony Paris being convicted in 1990 of the murder. They were released by the Court of Appeal two years later.

In 2003 advances in DNA led police to Jeffrey Gafoor, who had not been questioned in 1988. Gafoor, now 46, admitted murder and was jailed for life.

The trial continues.

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