South East Wales

Lynette White case: Police 'broke' witness Mark Grommek

Lynette White
Image caption Lynette White had been stabbed more than 50 times

A man whose false evidence helped jail three innocent men for the murder of Lynette White has claimed police 'broke' him into changing his story.

Mark Grommek told a corruption trial at Swansea Crown Court he was scared of both police and the jailed men.

Known as the Cardiff Three, they were jailed for murder but were later freed on appeal.

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

Mr Grommek said that after the three men were released by the Court of Appeal in 1992 he was "terrified" of both them and the police.

He said he felt under so much pressure he went "loopy" and for a time believed his own lies about what he had seen and heard in the early hours of 14 February, 1988, when prostitute Ms White was stabbed to death.

Mr Grommek told the jury he knew nothing about the murder, but that police officers pressured him into changing his story until he "broke."

In his new version he was noted as saying that about 0130 GMT on 14 February, 1988, he answered the doorbell at 7 James Street, Cardiff, to a group of three of four people.

He named one as Yusef Abdullahi, who would be wrongfully jailed for Ms White's murder.

He also named Ronnie Actie as being present, who would later stand trial for murder but was found not guilty.

Shortly afterwards he heard raised voices and a horrible scream, and Ms White's body was later found.

Mr Grommek said police officers gave him the names and he "told them what they wanted to hear".

Cross-examined by William Coker QC, representing former Det Chief Inspector Graham Mouncher, Mr Grommek denied the account was true.

He admitted that after the account he gave on November 22, 1988, he embellished the story.

In a subsequent interview he said he had heard a man who sounded like a West Indian, saying: "Give it to me. I know you have what I want."

He then heard a female say: "I have not go it."

The voices were coming from a flat below his, that Miss White had been using to entertain clients in.

Mr Grommek told the court the words had come from police, and he had signed whatever had been placed in front of him.

'Too afraid'

He agreed he repeated the false statements during a committal hearing before Cardiff magistrates and during two trials held at Swansea crown court.

"I was too afraid of what the police might do to me," he added.

Mr Grommek agreed with Mr Coker that in following years he saw doctors and psychiatrists about depression, but had not told them that police pressure was the root cause of his problems.

He said his life became lonely and terrifying. He remained afraid of police and, after the Cardiff Three were released, became afraid of them.

He later confessed to having lied.

Mr Coker asked: "Had someone got to you?"

"Someone from the Cardiff Five? To make you say you had given false evidence."

Mr Grommek said that had not happened.

As well as the three men wrongly jailed for the murder of Miss White two others stood trial and were found not guilty.

In 2003 advances in DNA helped police trace Jeffrey Gafoor, who admitted Ms White's murder and was jailed for life.

An investigation into how five men came to be prosecuted ed to a major police corruption trial.

Eight former officers, including Mr Mouncher, involved in the 1988 probe, are accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

One of them and two people who gave evidence are also charged with perjury.

They have all pleaded not guilty and the trial continues.

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