Thursday, 1 December 2011

Largest ever trial of police officers collapses

The biggest trial of police officers in British legal history has collapsed after it was ruled they could not receive a fair hearing.
Eight former police officers had been accused of fabricating evidence leading to the wrongful imprisonment of the "Cardiff Three", who were jailed for the murder of Lynette White.
Another man, Jeffrey Gafoor, was later jailed for the murder of White, who worked as a prostitute in the docks area of the Welsh capital.
The investigation into the former police officers and trial, which began in July, has cost millions of pounds.
But at Swansea crown court on Thursday, Mr Justice Sweeney discharged the jury and formally recorded not guilty verdicts against the eight former police officers and two civilians.
Sweeney told the jury: "When a trial has become irredeemably unfair it must stop." He told the court there had been a "number of problems in relation to the conduct of the prosecution" and its "duty of disclosure".
The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, was aware of the decision and supported it, the court was told. He also backed the launch of a full review into the circumstances leading up to the collapse. The Crown Prosecution Service said Starmer was "extremely concerned" about the collapse of the trial.
White was stabbed more than 50 times at the flat where she worked in 1988.
Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Tony Paris were convicted of her murder in 1990. Their convictions were quashed two years later and they were released. In 2003 Gafoor, a client of White's, admitted murdering her and is serving life.
During this year's trial the eight former officers were accused of "acting corruptly together" to make a case against the men they wrongly suspected.
The prosecution claimed the accusations were "largely the product of the imagination and then the theories and beliefs of police officers".
During the trial Gafoor was brought from prison to confirm that he had acted alone when he killed White. Stephen Miller, White's boyfriend, told of the "nightmare" he had endured after being accused of murdering the young woman.
The former police officers, Graham Mouncher, Richard Powell, Thomas Page, Michael Daniels, Paul Jennings, Paul Stephen, Peter Greenwood and John Seaford, had all denied conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Mouncher also denied two charges of lying while on oath during the trials of the five men. Also in the dock were civilians Violet Perriam and Ian Massey, who each pleaded not guilty to two charges of perjury. They had been accused of telling "clear and deliberate lies" during the trials.
Speaking outside the court, Page's barrister, Gregory Bull QC, said: "We are delighted that, after six-and-a-half years of being on police bail, the innocence of Mr Page has been firmly established.
"We always contended that there was insufficient evidence against him. The last six-and-a-half years have been the most traumatic years in his life.
"After 31 years as a police officer who received 26 commendations during his service, he felt bitterly let down by the manner of his arrest and the process that he has been put through."
He said the trial had collapsed because the prosecution failed to disclose certain evidence.
Bull said the case had probably cost "tens of millions", adding: "I would call for an inquiry into the way in which this investigating team has conducted itself."
Page himself said: "I'm just relieved that it's all over now after six-and-a-half years. This would have been my seventh Christmas on bail and we've just had stalling tactics from the prosecution.
"And, in fact, we proved, or my team proved, that any 'evidence' against me was completely dismantled and taken apart and there was no evidence at all against me.
"I would like an investigation into the way this investigation was conducted. The investigation should be re-investigated by a team from outside south Wales."
Anthony Barnfather, of law firm Pannone, which represented Mouncher, said: "It is particularly worrying that this is yet another large and expensive trial where the prosecution failed in its duty to disclose relevant material to the defence.
"Mr Mouncher has been subject to years of unimaginable pressure; however, he can finally put this behind him.
"He has always maintained the integrity of the original investigation and leaves the court with his professional reputation intact and his character unblemished."
The judge also ruled that a second trial of four other defendants linked to the same case, which was due to take place next year, would not now go ahead.

by taken from

No comments:

Post a Comment