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Evidence destruction key to review

An urgent review into the dramatic collapse of a multimillion-pound police corruption trial will look at why vital evidence was destroyed.

Eight former police officers walked free from court after hearing that top cold case officer Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Coutts had ordered the destruction.

Ten people in total were on trial accused of fabricating a case which led to the wrongful jailing for murder of three men. The 10 were formally found not guilty after judge Mr Justice Sweeney discharged a Swansea Crown Court jury, telling them the accused could not get a fair trial.

Britain's top prosecutor Keir Starmer, QC, added to the sense of urgency when he spoke of his own "extreme concern" at the collapse of the case.

South Wales Police Chief Constable Peter Vaughan is backing calls for a "full and detailed review" of the circumstances in which the decision to end the trial was made.

It is all a long way from the brutal murder of a prostitute in a seedy flat in Cardiff in 1988. Lynette White, 20, was found with more than 50 stab wounds in her body.

Police eventually arrested Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and cousins Ronnie and John Actie for murder. The cousins were cleared but the three other men went on to serve two years in prison before being released on appeal.

In 2003, Jeffrey Gafoor, a client of Miss White, pleaded guilty to her murder and is now serving a life sentence. Mr Abdullahi, 49, died earlier this year. Gafoor's admission was the catalyst for the investigation into the officers behind the original case.

Arrests were made in 2005 and the 10 defendants went on trial accused of bullying witnesses into agreeing to fabricated accounts of the killing. Senior among them are ex-superintendent Richard Powell, 58, and former chief inspectors Thomas Page, 62, and Graham Mouncher, 59.

They were accused of conspiring with Michael Daniels, 62, Paul Jennings, 51, Paul Stephen, 50, Peter Greenwood, 59, and John Seaford, 62, to pervert the course of justice. Civilians Violet Perriam, 61, and Ian Massey, 57, together with Mouncher, were also accused of two counts of perjury.

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