Lynette White

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Forensic Casebook

Case No: FAL/1000/99
Offence: Murder
Victim: Lynette White
Suspect(s): Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris & 2 others

Lynette White was a twenty-year-old young woman, working as a prostitute in Cardiff. Her body was discovered at 8.45 pm on 14 February 1988 in an upstairs flat at 7 James Street, Butetown where it is thought she may have been staying. Lynette had been stabbed numerous times in the body and her throat had been cut.

She had been fully dressed although the leather jacket she had been wearing had been pulled back to front across her body.

Original scientific investigation

The case was investigated by South Wales Police with forensic support from the Forensic Science Service (FSS). The scientists’ main discoveries included:

  • A large number of stab cuts in Lynette’s upper clothing which appeared to have been made by a sharp knife with a blade approx.1.5-2cm wide, and which were roughly aligned with where her injuries had been
  • Heavy and extensive blood staining on the clothing reflecting the injuries
  • Grouping tests (this was pre-DNA profiling) which suggested the blood on her jeans were of two types – her own on the upper part of the garment, and another type (so-called ‘foreign’ blood) – found in roughly 1 in every 3,800 people, on the leg bottoms, and on her right sock and wall behind her body at the scene
  • This other blood could have come from Angela Psaila, a witness who said she’d been present when the attack took place and who implicated the defendants
  • Traces of semen on Lynette’s intimate swabs and knickers, but this was unlikely to have been deposited very recently
  • Several shoe marks on the kitchen floor in the flat, none of which matched shoes submitted in connection with the case, although one shoe belonging to Stephen Miller couldn’t be excluded from having made some of the marks
  • Glove marks in the kitchen which couldn’t have been made by the previous occupant of the flat
  • A tiny smear of blood on a jacket relating to Tony Paris, but which was too small for grouping tests
  • Conviction, and Acquittal: Eleven months after the killing the police arrested and then charged 5 men including Lynette’s boyfriend, Stephen Miller. While there was no scientific evidence to link them with the killing, Stephen confessed to the crime, and he and two others (Yusef Abdullahi and Tony Paris) were convicted in November 1990 and sentenced to life in prison. They immediately began protesting their innocence and, in 1992, their convictions were overturned as evidence emerged to suggest that the confession had been wrung out of them by overly forceful police questioning.
  • Over subsequent years the police continued their investigations, focusing on applying each emerging new forensic DNA technique on the gradually diminishing remains of ‘foreign’ blood on Lynette’s lower clothing. The only useful result came from the leg bottoms of her jeans which suggested that the ‘foreign’ blood had come from a man, in which case it couldn’t have been Psaila’s. This effectively removed the physical link between Psaila and the murder scene.