Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 17:21 UK

Police 'bullied' man into lying


Mark Grommek is charged with three counts of perjury

A key witness in one of Britain's most notorious miscarriages of justice was "bullied" into lying by police, Cardiff Crown Court has heard.

Mark Grommek is accused of giving false evidence against two of five men charged with stabbing to death prostitute Lynette White, 20 in 1988.

The prosecution told the jury how Mr Grommek was "cajoled (by police) into signing... a tissue of lies."

He denies three charges of perjury claiming he lied under duress.

The jury was told by the prosecution how Mr Grommek's false evidence led to five men, Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi, Anthony Paris, John Actie and Ronnie Actie being charged with murder.

Lynette White was stabbed to death in Cardiff on Valentine's Day in 1988.

Mark Grommek
The pressure and suggestion is not a defence to the charges of perjury this defendant faces
Prosecutor Nicholas Dean QC

Mr Grommek lived above the flat in James Street in the city's Butetown area, where Ms White who was stabbed more than 50 times.

He was interviewed by police within days of her brutal murder but told police that he knew nothing about it.

However, in late 1988, Mr Grommek, then an unemployed chef, changed his story and said he saw four men outside the flat.

Prosecutor Nicholas Dean QC said: "Mr Grommek now says that in November and December 1988, the police used a combination of suggestion, persuasion and verbal bullying to get him to agree to a version of events that was to implicate in particular Ronnie Actie and Yusef Abdullahi.

"He was persuaded to accept that version of events and was cajoled into signing statements he knew to be an absolute tissue of lies.

"Grommek's evidence was completely untrue but he was led and pressurised. He was browbeaten and he agreed to say it.

"While it's true Grommek was put under pressure, fed information and invited to agree falsehoods, he acted selfishly and in his own self-interests.

Lynette White
Lynette White was stabbed more than 50 times in a Cardiff flat

"All he was concerned about was himself and what would happen to him if he didn't agree.

"He simply wanted to do whatever was necessary to get the police off his back. He didn't think or care about the consequences for the people he lied about.

"The pressure and suggestion is not a defence to the charges of perjury this defendant faces."

Mr Dean told the court how Mr Grommek could have told the truth but continued to lie and "implicated innocent men in a horrific murder."

He continued: "Those five men had no choice but to face a charge of which they were wholly innocent.

"For all he may choose to try to present himself as a victim, the real victims here are Stephen Miller, John and Ronnie Actie, Yusef Abdullahi and Anthony Paris, and of course Lynette White."

The court also heard how Mr Grommek repeated the lies at two subsequent trials at Swansea Crown Court in 1989 and 1990.

The jury also heard how he continued to lie when he was interviewed by the BBC's Panorama programme into the murder investigation.

Mr Actie and his cousin John were cleared of Ms White's murder at a Swansea trial in 1990 while Mr Abdullahi, Stephen Miller and Anthony Paris were jailed in 1990 but later cleared on appeal.

'Off my back'

The real killer, Jeffrey Gafoor, was caught using DNA evidence more than 10 years later and jailed for life in 2003 after admitting Ms White's murder.

The jury also heard from Stephen Miller, Ms White's former boyfriend, who told the court he still had nightmares about his own treatment by police.

Under questioning from David Aubrey, defending, Mr Miller said the police officers "manipulated" him into making a false statement saying he was in the flat at the time and had stabbed Ms White.

Mr Miller, who unsuccessfully tried to retract his admission of stabbing later said: "They stripped me bare that day. That will be with me until the day I die."

An investigation was launched to discover why the original five defendants were wrongly arrested, charged and convicted of a crime they knew nothing about.

As a result, Mr Grommek, formerly of Cardiff, was interviewed and charged with perjury.

When police interviewed in October 2004, he told them he lied because he wanted everything "over and done with", the jury was told.

The court heard he said: "I just wanted the police off my back so I could be left alone."

He said he was afraid of what would happen if he changed his evidence, adding:

"I was scared to death of the police and what they might do to me. "I was afraid I might be put in prison."

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday morning.


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