By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (March 6th 2016)
Today, the real and sole murderer of 20-year-old Lynette White, becomes eligible to apply for parole. Jeffrey Gafoor admits that he alone is responsible. In the early hours of Saint Valentine’s Day 1988, Lynette was stabbed over fifty times. Her throat was slit. Still Gafoor continued his vicious attack. He stabbed her breasts and chest repeatedly – at least half of the offensive injuries were to that area of her body. The attack continued after she was dead or dying. The brutality obviously went far beyond what was required to kill her. It was cruel and in my view torture. Gafoor has never explained why Lynette suffered this horrific fate. And he has not explained why he stayed silent while five innocent men stood trial for a crime he admits he committed on his own.
The Cardiff Five ((Yusef Abdullahi, John and Ronnie Actie, Stephen Miller and Tony Paris) were charged with Lynette’s murder in December 1988. Almost two years later the Actie cousins were acquitted and the Cardiff Three were wrongfully convicted. It is now acknowledged to be one of Britain’s most notorious miscarriages of justice. It was quite obviously a sexually motivated homicide, even if that was not the label in use in the 1980s and ’90s.
Professor Dave Barclay conducted a review of the scientific evidence, which led t the vindication of the Cardiff Five and a measure of actual justice for the memory of Lynette White. He explains the significance of the crime being a sexually motivated homicide. “All but a very few are on the breasts, but sheʼs had her neck cut as well and wrists and so on”, he said. “Thereʼs a slash across the face. Itʼs a sexually motivated homicide – full stop. [I]tʼs a sexually motivated homicide and donʼt forget those stab wounds are through the puffa jacket and clothing and yet theyʼre still, theyʼre all concentrated on the breasts. Itʼs a single male sexually motivated homicide” [my emphasis].
So why the emphasis? Sexually motivated homicides are almost always committed by one man acting on his own, like Gafoor. Sometimes two vicious people combine and encourage each other to commit such crimes. Barclay and others cannot provide a single example in all the annals of crime where a murder like this was committed by five men, who made accomplices of two other sex workers, but let them live after committing such an evil crime. And all of this was allegedly done without leaving any trace, tying them to the scene or victim in total darkness. Sadly, Barclay has never given evidence about all this and more. So what would he have said if he had been given the chance? “Interestingly I give evidence more in Holland and places like that where they seem quite happy to have people give an overview”, he said. “I would have said whereʼs the evidence for any of that bullshit? I might even have said that in court”.
Barclay demonstrated that the crime-scene evidence, forensic pathology, forensic psychology and blood distribution pattern was only consistent with one explanation. Lynette was murdered by one person acting on his own. That person, by his own admission and guilty plea – and evidence – was Jeffrey Charles Gafoor. For at least nine months the investigation followed the credible evidence – the crime-scene and forensic science wasn’t lying, but the original investigation took a diversion. It derailed the inquiry.
“[I]f you have two possibilities, you need very persuasive evidence to go for the least likely, so youʼve got a single male arguing with a prostitute over a deal and thatʼs what the scientist thought for nine months, or youʼve got this thing where Angela Psaila, [Mark] Grommek, at least and maybe somebody else and the five accused are all tearing round this room, sawing at peopleʼs necks and trying to cut their hands – stuff like this”, Barclay says.
“Angela Psailaʼs supposed to be asked to cut the neck or hands, I canʼt remember, or the wrist, so thatʼs so inherently improbable on every possible level: psychologically, practically and just they couldnʼt do it in that dark room without leaving footwear and finger-marks in blood and if you actually consider something I did after I totalled up the number of people that were supposed to have held the bloody knife”, he continues. “Thatʼs four people, so there are four people with blood on their hands and theyʼre going out without leaving finger-marks in blood or whatever, so I think that was a major thing. Occamʼs Razor is a thing that we use a lot in forensic science, ʻin all probability, the simplest explanation is the correct oneʼ, and you have to be really sure that the simplest explanation isnʼt correct and that was something that was not done either”.
The Cost of Silence
The methods that Barclay used in his review and subsequent work on this case were available in the 1980s and ’90s. There was no reason for this miscarriage of justice to be allowed to occur. Jeffrey Gafoor was the one person who knew for certain that not only were the Cardiff Five innocent, but that they were suffering a grave injustice for his crime. He chose to stay silent and let their lives be destroyed Ronnie Actie and Yusef Abdullahi both died before reaching fifty. John Actie, Stephen Miller and Tony Paris still endure the unjustifiable whispering campaigns in a case that disgraces justice. Meanwhile, the real killer, becomes eligible to apply for parole today after completing a tariff that was incorrectly applied and failed miserably to reflect the crimes Gafoor committed.
There is no excuse for the lives of the Cardiff Five and their families to have been wrecked. There is no excuse for Lynette’s family to have been denied justice for so long. While Gafoor is not responsible for justice miscarrying, his cowardly decision to refuse to take any responsibility for his crime when it mattered destroyed several lives. Do the courses and rehabilitative exercises that he experiences in prison to prepare him for parole bear this in mind? If not, why not? The real and sole killer received an inappropriately lenient tariff that further insults all the victims of this tawdry injustice – one that simply won’t go away until justice is allowed to reign once and for all.