‘Shredded’ papers in collapsed court case discovered

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Missing documents which led to the collapse of a multi-million pound criminal trial have been found.

Eight former officers walked free from court in December last year after hearing that top cold-case detective Chief Superintendent Chris Coutts had ordered the documents to be shredded.

Ten people were on trial accused of fabricating a case which led to the wrongful jailing of three men for the 1988 murder of prostitute Lynette White.

The 10 were formally found not guilty after judge Mr Justice Sweeney discharged a jury at Swansea Crown Court, telling them the accused could not get a fair trial.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said there would now be a review into how the trial collapsed.

Sarah Green, commissioner of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said it had “now verified that the documents that the Lynette White trial at Swansea Crown Court on December 1 2011 was told may have been destroyed have been discovered, and were not shredded as first thought.”

She added: “The documents were found in the original boxes that the IPCC had sent those files to South Wales Police as part of the trial disclosure process in 2009.

“These boxes were still in the possession of SWP and have subsequently been verified.”

The IPCC passed on news of the discovery to Mr Starmer, the commissioner said, adding: “The IPCC will of course publish its findings in due course.”

Mr Starmer said: “Shortly after the collapse of this trial I initiated a full and detailed review of the circumstances in which the decision to offer no further evidence was made. I asked leading counsel for the prosecution to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the reasons for the decision.

“I have now considered that analysis and as part of the review have decided to ask Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, an independent statutory body, to consider the way in which the prosecution team conducted the disclosure exercise in this case.”

Miss White’s body was found with more than 50 stab wounds.

Detectives arrested Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and cousins Ronnie and John Actie for murder.

The cousins were cleared but the three other men went on to serve two years in prison before being released on appeal. Mr Abdullahi, 49, died last year.

In 2003, Jeffrey Gafoor, a client of Miss White, admitted murdering her and is now serving life.

His admission was the catalyst for the investigation into the officers in the original case.

Arrests were made in 2005, and the 10 defendants went on trial accused of bullying witnesses into agreeing to fabricated accounts of the killing.

A South Wales Police spokesman said last night: “This is an ongoing IPCC investigation and, as such, it would be inappropriate to comment.”