Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 17:54 UK

Jury played murder police tapes

Mark Grommek
Mark Grommek lived above the flat in which Lynette White was stabbed to death

The jury trying a man accused of giving false evidence at a murder trial 20 years ago has been played tapes of police interviews from the time.

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

The prosecution claim he was "pressurised" into giving false evidence by the police.

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

Mr Grommek, 50 lived above a flat in which Ms White, who worked as a prostitute, was stabbed to death in the docks area of Cardiff in February 1988.

The jury at Cardiff Crown Court 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.

The real killer, Jeffrey Gafoor, a client of Ms White, eventually admitted murder in 2003 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Prosecutor Nicholas Dean QC told the jurors the tapes would give them "a flavour" of what Mr Miller had described as the police behaviour in 1988, and the behaviour of officers as Mr Grommek described it.

Mr Dean said police interviews with the suspects were taped because they were interviewed under caution, unlike Mr Grommek, who was only a witness.

To berate and browbeat witnesses is at best wholly improper
Nicholas Dean QC

In the first excerpt Mr Miller was heard to repeatedly deny, over a period of about 20 minutes, being at the flat on the night of the murder.

Officers were heard repeatedly telling him he was there and at one stage Mr Miller was told: "If you tell me you were there, we have got the answer to this terrible, malicious murder."

Mr Miller was heard to say: "I was not there. I've got nothing to lie about."

On a different tape, he tells another policeman he saw a man stab Lynette White 15 times at the flat.

An officer asks him: "Would you describe it as a frenzied act? Was he acting like a mad man?"

Mr Miller replies: "I would say so, yes."

He said that after witnessing the stabbing he ran from the scene, adding: "That's the truth, that's the gospel truth."

Mr Miller is later heard crying as an officer tells him: "You are going to have to do this again and again and again until it's right. There's more to it."

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

In his opening statement, Mr Dean told the court Mr Grommek initially said he knew nothing of the circumstances of Ms White's death.

However, in late 1988, he changed his story, saying he had seen four men outside the James Street flat.

Mr Dean 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.

"The prosecution in this case fully accepts that Mr Grommek was indeed persuaded to accept a version of events, that he was cajoled into signing statements he knew to be an absolute tissue of lies."

In telling lies however, Grommek acted "selfishly and his own self-interest", Mr Dean said.

Police officers involved in the original investigation were right to be "robust", Mr Dean said, but added: "To berate and browbeat witnesses is at best wholly improper and to in effect suggest to the witness what to say is profoundly wrong - indeed it is itself criminal behaviour."

His treatment by police is "not a defence to the charges of perjury," he said.

Gafoor's conviction sparked an inquiry into the way the original murder investigation was conducted.

When police interviewed Mr Grommek about that in October 2004, he said he lied because he wanted everything "over and done with".

Mr Miller has told the court he still has nightmares about his own treatment by police.

He said the police officers who interviewed him were "wicked", and added: "They got me when my guard was down, when I was really stressed out."


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