The BBC is exploring one of Britain’s longest-running murder trials – which saw five innocent men convicted of murder in 1988 – in new documentary, A Killing in Tiger Bay.
On Valentine’s Day in 1988, dock worker Lynette White, a young woman from Cardiff, was murdered.
In November later that year, police charged five Black and mixed-race men with White’s murder, although none of the forensic evidence discovered at the crime scene could be linked to them. Three of the men were eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
However, the convictions were ruled as unsafe and quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1992 after it was judged that the police investigating the murder had acted improperly.
The three-part documentary, which kicks off on BBC Two on Thursday, 9th September, will look into the case, paying tribute to Lynette, while also exploring the miscarriage of justice against the five Butetown men who were accused of her murder.
Here’s everything you need to know, including where the Cardiff Five are now.
What happened to the Cardiff Five?
On 14th February 1988, Lynette White was murdered on James Street, which is now known as Cardiff Bay.
South Wales Police issued a photofit image of a white male seen in the vicinity at the time of the murder, but were unable to trace him.
In November that year, the police charged five Black and mixed-race men with White’s murder, despite a lack of forensic evidence implicating them in the crime.
The men in question – Tony Paris, Yusef Abdullahi and Stephen Miller – who became known as the “Cardiff Three” – were each sentenced to life imprisonment, while Cousins Ronnie and John Actie were acquitted of the murder, having already spent two years in custody.
Miller confessed to the killing after previously making 307 denials, also implicating the other men. He was interviewed on 19 occasions for a total of 13 hours and was denied access to a solicitor for the first two interviews. This led to the conviction of the trio, but in December 1992, the convictions were ruled unsafe and quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Taped interviews with Stephen Miller, who had a mental age of 11, were deemed an example of inappropriate interrogation, and it was decided that the police investigating the murder had acted improperly. All three men were acquitted.
At the time, the police insisted that the men had been released purely on a legal technicality and said they would be seeking no other suspects.
In September 2000, the case was reopened and detectives discovered fresh forensic evidence, leading to the arrest and prosecution of Jeffrey Gafoor in July 2003.
Where are the Cardiff Five now?
Only three of the five men are still alive – Stephen, Tony and John.
In September 2007, Ronnie was found dead in his back garden. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Four years later, Yusef Abdullahi died at the age of 49.
Cardiff solicitor Matthew De Maid, whose firm represented Mr Abdullahi during the Cardiff Five case, says his client struggled to move on from the catastrophic events of being wrongfully accused.
“He found life very difficult following his case and wrongful conviction,” said Mr De Maid.
“He found it difficult to come to terms with life even after he was formally cleared.”
All three surviving men will appear in the documentary to speak about the aftermath of the horrific event and the impact the investigative process had on their lives. They’ll also open up on the events which followed.
John Actie, who is now 60 and still lives in Butetown, recently revealed how the infamous Valentine’s Day of 1988 changed his life, and those of his wrongly co-accused, forever.
Speaking to WalesOnline, he said: “My life hasn’t been normal for 30-odd years. It’s never going to be the same now even after all these years and the dust has settled. I was wronged, [the detectives] got away with it – I’m always going to be angry.”
In 2016, Tony Paris spoke out about the incident during an interview with Jeremy Vine.
“It’s the worst thing you can ever imagine,” he said at the time.
“Emotionally, mentally there isn’t words to explain certain types of feelings when things happen to you.”
Recalling a moment from the case, he added: “So I’m telling the police for months ‘I don’t know nothing, I don’t hang around with these people and indeed if you’re telling me these people were there, they wasn’t there with me.'”
Despite what had happened, Paris moved back to Cardiff, which he says will always be his home, his parents having settled there from Nevis St Kitts not long before Tony’s birth in 1957 when it was known as Tiger Bay – a multicultural district razed as part of a slum clearance in the 1960s.
“Living in the docks was brilliant,” he said back in 2016.
“I was brought up with all nationalities, all colours all religions. White boys, Black boys, Somali boys, Arab boys, Chinese boys, we didn’t see that, we were just docks boys.”
A Killing in Tiger Bay airs on Thursday, 9th September at 9pm on BBC One Wales (BBC Two in the rest of the UK). All three episodes will stream on iPlayer after the first episode airs. Check out more of our Documentaries coverage of visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.