A Killing In Tiger Bay: How bent cops fitted me up for brutal murder of call girl lover – while white killer walked free

EVEN genius script writer Jed Mercurio would not have come up with a plot like this for Line of Duty. No one would have believed it.

When 20-year-old call girl Lynette White was killed by a knife-wielding sadist on Valentine’s Day in a flat above a bookmaker’s shop, police quickly had a prime suspect.

A white man, distressed and in tears, his hands bleeding, was seen by four witnesses outside the building in the racial melting pot of Tiger Bay in Cardiff docks.

All the evidence pointed to the killer being a disgruntled punter. 

Police even produced a photofit on TV’s Crimewatch programme of a white man with greasy dark brown hair they were looking for.

But ten months after the murder – with no evidence whatsoever to back it up – South Wales detectives arrested five black men instead.

They accused Lynette’s boyfriend Stephen Miller and four others living in the docks of getting together to stab her 50 times, in a ritual killing.   

These five innocent men became victims of the biggest police corruption case in British history.

Now the mind-blowing story of the Cardiff Five and the misjustice they suffered at the hands of bullying detectives who twisted the truth is told on TV in a new three-part documentary starting tonight.   

"I should have protected her"

It is 33 years since Lynette White was killed but her boyfriend is still scarred by the hell he was put through by corrupt cops.

Now 51, Stephen Miller lives in London and refuses to ever return to Cardiff.

He says: “When I go to bed, I think about the case. When I wake up, I think about the case. Whenever I see the police I think about the case. 

“I’m not sure if you’ve gone through somebody being killed. It’s not nice, especially when you have been accused of it.

“I won’t go back to Cardiff, never. Too many memories. Cardiff is where I used to see Lynette. It attacks my heart.”

Breaking down in tears, he sobs: “I couldn’t even protect Lynette.

“I should have protected her. 

“What has haunted me for so long is could I have done more to have got her out of the situation she was in?”

Bubbly blonde Lynette lived mostly with her gran after her mum walked out and her dad was regularly in jail.

The programme reveals she drifted into prostitution to pay bills but dreamed of going back to college in a couple of years.

Her friend Paula Hill says: “The life of a sex worker in those days was tough. 

“They were frequently attacked by punters and by people in the pubs they used to hang around in. 

“To be perfectly honest, the police never had much sympathy with them.”

"They looked at the colour of my skin"

On February 14, 1988, Lynette took a punter to the dockland flat in James Street she used for sex.

That night a friend reported her missing and the following morning police found Lynette’s fully-clothed body in the front room.

Wounds on her hands showed she had tried to fight off her attacker. His next blow slashed her throat and almost certainly killed her.

But the murderer continued his frenzied attack – repeatedly stabbing her face, upper body, chest and arms before fleeing into the night.

The killer’s fingerprints were all over the flat and forensics officers examined a bloody handprint on the wall. 

Spots of the murderer’s rare blood type were found on Lynette’s jeans.

The obvious suspect was her boyfriend Stephen Miller, who had moved to Cardiff from London.

Stephen says: “It’s logic that you are going to look at the spouse of the person who has been murdered.

“I put my hands up and said I understand that but I am going to prove my innocence because I didn’t do anything wrong.

“They looked at my skin colour…London…skin colour…London. ‘You’re up to no good. So you’re with this girl who is on the game and you’re probably pimping off her’.

 “I was a hustler, I sold weed, took a bit of coke but it didn’t make me a murderer. 

“I told them exactly where I was that night. I was in the Casablanca Club, in the back playing pool.

“I gave them my blood, everything they needed. They took my blood, everything, all my clothes.” 

“What has haunted me for so long is could I have done more to have got her out of the situation she was in?”

Stephen was quickly ruled out because neither his fingerprints nor his blood group matched.

A team of 62 detectives followed up 6,000 leads and took more than 3,000 statements but no one could identify the distressed, badly-bleeding white man seen outside the flat in James Street on Valentine’s Day.

Convinced Lynette’s best friend Leanne Vilday was holding out on them, detectives took her to a hypnotist in Wigan.

The documentary shows her under hypnosis. 

At the end of the session the hypnotist concludes Leanne knew nothing about what had gone on. 

Her friend Paula Hill says: “What a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

After four months, a new team of detectives was brought in to solve the case.

"Pressure on the police was almost intolerable"

According to the BBC 2 documentary, A Killing in Tiger Bay, Lynette’s horrific murder was casting a shadow multi-million pound plans to turn Cardiff’s rundown docks into homes for yuppies.

Former detective Jeff Norman says: “By December of ‘88 pressure on the police was almost intolerable.”

Suddenly, in early December – 10 months after the killing – detectives arrested Stephen Miller, shoplifter Tony Paris, Yousef ‘Dullah’ Abdullahi along with cousins John and Ronnie Actie for murder.

Police claimed that Lynette’s friend Leanne and another prostitute had been there under duress when all five men took it in turns to stab and kill the victim.

For nearly a week cops grilled the five men. 

In 16 tape recordings Stephen Miller denied 345 times being the killer. 

Yusef told police 54 times that he was at work taking scrap from the hold of a ship.

John Actie, who was interrogated nine times, says: “I could have said ‘no comment’ but when you are in those situations you want to explain everything just to make it clear you weren’t there.

“They were wary of me – they didn’t treat me like treated Stephen and Tony and Dullah. 

“They didn’t shout and scream at me like they did to those guys.”

Tony Paris remembers: “Banging tables, banging tables. ‘You did this…You were stabbing Lynette’. 

“It was all f***ing crazy. They tried to twist up my brain and mess up my head. And I’m telling them I don’t know nothing.”

“They tried to twist up my brain and mess up my head. And I’m telling them I don’t know nothing.”

After days of endless interrogation Stephen, who had the mental age of 11 years, cracked and confessed to a crime he didn’t commit and implicated his pals to make the torment stop.

He says: “There were so many things going on in my head. 

“They smashed my head up so much. Hours and hours putting things into your head.

“I kept saying I was not there. They were in your face.

“I felt like a prisoner of war.

“Why did I break and accuse innocent men of something they didn’t do? 

“I thought to myself we are going to go to court and then we can say our piece and then we are going to prove our innocence.”

But Stephen was not able to prove his innocence. 

The Longest Murder Trial in History

In November 1990, at the longest murder trial in British history Stephen, Tony and Dullah were convicted by an all-white jury and jailed for life.

Ronnie and John, who were acquitted after spending two years in jail awaiting trial, led a campaign to free the three convicted men. 

John, now 60, says: "I went to see them at Wormwood Scrubs and Winson Green. It was heartwrenching to see them, horrible."

In 1992, life sentences given to the three men were quashed after an appeal found police had "bullied" a confession from Stephen.

It took another ten years to find Lynette’s killer. 

DNA proved that security guard Jeffrey Gafoor was the white prime suspect seen outside the flat.

The real kiler

The real killer of Lynette White would have been back walking the streets as a free man but for Covid-19.

Jeffrey Gafoor, 56, was due to be released on parole but the pandemic stopped prison authorities from letting him go.

The photofit picture of a bloodstained man seen by four witnesses was a good match for greasy-haired Gafoor.

But the loner, who lived only two miles away in Splott, Cardiff, could not believe his luck when police switched their attention to five black men in Cardiff’s dockland.

Security guard Gafoor carried on with life as normal until he was caught through advances in forensic technology. 

By chance, a relative gave a DNA sample during a routine inquiry and it was a close match to bloodstains found at the murder scene.

South Wales Police botched the initial murder investigation but realised they were about to catch Lynette’s real killer.

By the time South Wales Police were finally on to him Gafoor tried to kill himself before officers knocked his door. 

He admitted the murder which he claimed started as a row over £30  and was sentenced to life, with a recommendation he served a minimum 13 years. 

Judge Mr Justice John Royce told him: "For 15 years you kept your guilty secret and evaded justice even while others stood trial for the murder you knew that you had committed.”

Gafoor was moved to an open prison last year in readiness for his release 17 years after his confession.

In May the Parole Board said Covid-19 restrictions prevented Gafoor “making as much progress as hoped".

But a statement said: "Mr Gafoor will be eligible for another parole review in due course."

Ronnie Actie passed away in 2007 while Yusef Abdullahi became a hard drug user and died in 2011, age 49. 

Over £30million in taxpayers’ money was spent investigating police corruption in the case.

In 2007, three prosecution witnesses who gave evidence at the original murder trial got 18 months in jail for perjury. 

In 2011, eight former police officers were charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice. 

Their trial – the largest police corruption case in British criminal history – collapsed when the defence claimed copies of files which the cops in the dock should have seen ‘had been destroyed’.

But a year later in 2012, the missing documents were found – in a South Wales Police office.

John adds: "You just couldn't move on because this was always hanging over you. 

“The police were treated with kid gloves. They caught Gafoor but we've never had justice.”

Home Secretary Theresa May rejected calls for public inquiry and ordered a top QC to investigate.

Richard Horwell QC concluded ‘human failings, rather than wickedness’ were to blame.  

This incredible real-life story is now being made into a five-part drama for ITV, by the team that produced last year’s rating-winning series Pembroke Murders, starring  Luke Evans and Keith Allen.

A Killing In Tiger Bay documentary is on BBC2 tonight at 9am

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