South East Wales

Lynette White witness 'lied because of police pressure'

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

A woman whose lies helped jail three innocent men for the murder of Lynette White has told a court how she lied because of police pressure.

Leanne Vilday told Swansea Crown Court she did not know anything Miss White's stabbing on 14 February, 1988.

But she went on to name three innocent men who were jailed for murder in 1990 before being freed on appeal in 1992.

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

Jurors were told Ms Vilday wrote a letter to Nicola Heysham, the girlfriend of the cousin of Jeffrey Gafoor, the man who would eventually confess to the murder.

The court heard Ms Vilday could be linked to the real killer.

William Coker QC, representing former Detective Inspector Graham Mouncher, who helped lead the 1988 investigation, took Ms Vilday through the letter, which was written on 26 December, 1988.

In it, Ms Vilday wrote: "After being locked up for a couple of days they said they had three witnesses and I must go with the police's side or the boys' side.

"Either I say I was there and get out of the police station or I say the same as I said from the day I found the girl, which is the truth.

"I hope you believe me, I would have been in the dock for murder."

She added: "I can believe it was Dullah," referring to Yusef Abdullahi, one of the men who would be wrongly jailed.

Ms Vilday said she hated Mr Abdullahi because after Ms White's death he said she had deserved to be killed for "grassing" him to police about cocaine.

She also wrote: "I can believe it was Pineapple as well," referring to the nickname of Stephen Miller, Miss White's pimp.

She wrote that John Actie - who would be tried but found not guilty of Miss White's murder - may have had a reason because Miss White and Pineapple "owed him a couple of hundred for cocaine".

Ms Vilday also wrote that two men she believed to be brothers of John Actie "are looking to put me in the same place as Lynette".

"No-one must know my address," she added.

I know you will not tell anyone. I'm getting threats to my life and I'm scared stiff."

Ms Vilday said she had been drunk when she wrote the letter and included exaggerations.

By then, she said, she had started to "live the lie" that she had seen John and Ronnie Actie, Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and Stephen Miller kill Ms White.

Ms Vilday said that, shortly before the first trial of the Cardiff Five, in October, 1989, Det Insp Mouncher approached her and said her letter had "popped up" and the defence had it.

"I think he was warning me before I gave evidence that the defence had the letter," she added.

"I don't think he was happy that I had written it. He said I was stupid."

Jeffrey Gafoor later admitted murdering Ms White and was jailed for life after advances in DNA led police to him in 2003.

Eight former officers involved in the 1988 probe, including Mr Mouncher, 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. The trial continues.

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