Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2003 11:38 UK

How police found Gafoor

Jeffrey Gafoor
A link with a teenage boy led to the arrest of Gafoor

When Lynette White was found murdered on Valentine's Day 1988, few forecast it would take 15 years to find her murderer.

Jeffrey Gafoor's guilty plea at Cardiff Crown Court on Friday ended a mystery that had seen three innocent men jailed, an independent review of the investigation and a wide-ranging police DNA sweep, casting a shadow over the city for more than a decade.

Three men were found guilty of the murder in 1990.

But when their conviction was found to be a miscarriage of justice, it seemed the killer might never be found.

I was one of the officers who obtained a mouth swab from Gafoor...within 24 hours we had the full hit on the database."
Paul Williams, South Wales Police

It was only the painstaking discovery of fresh DNA evidence from the scene of the killing in James Street, Butetown, that began the trail to the murderer.

An independent review into unsolved murders in south Wales paved the way for a fresh inquiry, which got under way in September 2000.

As part of that new inquiry, a fresh DNA sweep of Lynette White's flat was carried out.

Police managed to find a new DNA sample - spots of blood - from a skirting board and sent it for analysis to independent company, Forensic Alliance.

Scientists there found the DNA of an individual who police had never questioned in connection with Lynette White's murder.

A fresh DNA sample was taken from the murder scene

Detective Constable Paul Williams, who worked on the reinvestigation, said: "Incredibly, officers revisited the scene at James Street and took a skirting board from the scene and sent it to Forensic Alliance.

"They painstakingly removed paint and fortunately found a DNA profile."

After 14 years, police had finally built up a profile of the man who killed Lynette White.

The next breakthrough came when the DNA profile - dubbed Cellophane Man because of previous DNA evidence found on a piece of cellophane - was sent to Forensic Alliance's laboratory in Oxford.

DNA expert Andrew MacDonald explained: "We searched the national DNA database and couldn't find an complete match.

"South Wales Police instigated a mass screen which ruled out about 300 people.

"We also ruled out the people from the initial investigation, none of whom provided a match for Cellophane Man.

"We had to think what else we could do to track him down.

Detective Constable Paul Williams
Police officer Paul Williams took a DNA sample from Gafoor

"One of the (DNA) components was quite rare - you'd only expect 1-2% of the population to have it.

"We searched the National DNA Database for all the people who had that component.

"From that search we got 600 hits back.

"(It was narrowed to) a list of 70 people - one of them stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

"It was a really exciting moment to find that this person had so much in common with Cellophane Man."

That partial match was with a youth who was not born when the 1988 killing took place, but who had had dealings with the police.

But testing of the 14-year-old's family found a close relative whose DNA matched that of Cellophane Man's and he was instantly suspected as Lynette White's murderer.

That relative's name was Jeffrey Gafoor.

Detective Constable Williams said police were "amazed" by the link between Cellophane Man and the teenager.

Lynette White
Lynette White was stabbed

"When we had the youth profile it was surprising, he wasn't born at the time but I knew the net was closing in," he said.

"The youth provided a partial match with Cellophane Man, who we now know as Jeffrey Gafoor.

"That is why we had to look at his family. "I was one of the officers who obtained a mouth swab from Gafoor that was then sent to Forensic Alliance who fast-tracked it.

"Within 24 hours we had the full hit on the database."

Jeffrey Gafoor was arrested and charged with Lynette White's murder in March this year.

He may never have been brought to justice if DNA technology had not advanced so quickly since the time of the brutal killing.

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