Eddie Gilfoyle free after maintaining innocence for 18 years in jail
Subject of miscarriage of justice campaign was convicted of murdering his wife, after she was found hanged in garage
Peter Walker Guardian. Thursday 23 December 2010
Undated file photo of Eddie Gilfoyle, now 49, who was freed from Sudbury open prison in Derbyshire, after 18 years, Photograph: Pa
A man who spent 18 years in prison for murdering his heavily pregnant wife despite apparently serious flaws in the case uncovered by miscarriage of justice campaigners, has been released on parole but barred from discussing the matter, according to reports.
Eddie Gilfoyle, 49, whose continued imprisonment was highlighted by the Guardian’s justice on trial series, among others, was freed from Sudbury open prison in Derbyshire yesterday.
However, a condition of his parole is that he does not directly or indirectly contact the media, according to The Times, which has also campaigned for his release.
Gilfoyle’s wife was found hanged in the garage of their home in Upton, Merseyside, in 1992. Prosecution evidence alleged that it would have been impossible for Paula Gilfoyle, who was eight-and-half months pregnant, to have strung the rope from a beam without assistance, and that her suicide note betrayed signs it had been written with her husband’s help.
Gilfoyle insisted his innocence throughout. Forensic experts who supported him said it would be almost impossible to hang someone who was conscious against their will without leaving signs of a struggle. Police officers cut down her body before tests were carried out meaning the time of her death could not be established, a crucial part of the case.
Despite the apparent gaps in the prosecution case, Gilfoyle lost two appeals.
A campaign group supporting Gilfoyle said it could not discuss the specifics of his release but indicated in a statement that his lawyers would appeal against the gagging condition, which reportedly includes his family, supporters and lawyers.
It said: “We are not able to provide a response because the parole board has imposed a condition on Eddie’s life licence that prohibits him contacting the media either directly or indirectly whether this is regarding his release or his appeal. This is a matter that we will be challenging through the courts but until that time we cannot comment.”
A spokesman for the parole board said he could not comment on individual cases but said a condition banning prisoners from talking to the media would be imposed to prevent further offending.
He said: “Any prisoner who is released is released if we reach a judgment that he is safe to release and that he is not going to go on to commit another offence. It is sometimes the case that one of the licence conditions is that the prisoner being released doesn’t get involved with the media. If that is the case, the only reason for that condition would be to prevent further offending.
“For instance, it might be the case that if a high-profile prisoner talks to the media after he has been released, there would be issues concerning the feelings of the victims.
“There might be concerns about the reaction of the general public to someone who has been released from a life sentence.”
The Times February 20, 2009
Uncovered: police notes cast doubt over Eddie Gilfoyle murder
After 16 years in jail, husband’s conviction is in question
Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor
Sixteen years after a man was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his heavily pregnant wife by hanging, The Times has uncovered evidence that throws his conviction into doubt.
Long-lost notes of police interviews have emerged that suggest that Eddie Gilfoyle was at work when his 32-year-old wife, Paula, died.
The notes catalogue a series of blunders, including the destruction of evidence before scene-of-crime officers arrived. They also show that those first on the scene were convinced that they were dealing with a tragic suicide.
The notes were not shown to the jury and not mentioned during Gilfoyle’s trial in 1993. Merseyside Police repeatedly denied that they existed.
Paula Gilfoyle was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she was found hanged in the garage next to the couple’s home in June 1992. A note was found in her handwriting that said that she had decided to “put an end to everything”. Her husband was later charged with her murder. Since his conviction, he has lost two appeals.
The Times has obtained notes of interviews with the officers called to the house on the day that she died. They state that the doctor who declared Mrs Gilfoyle dead told police that she had died six hours earlier – when her husband was at his workplace.
The 20 pages of notes appear to have been taken during an internal inquiry into police blunders at the scene. Until their disclosure today, there had been no suggestion that the doctor had addressed the question of time of death at the scene. There is no mention of it in his statements to the murder investigation.
Instead, the doctor told the trial jury that Mrs Gilfoyle had been dead for between three and eight hours before being found. This could have given Gilfoyle time to kill her after work.
During the trial the judge, Mr Justice McCullough, expressed amazement that no time of death had been given to the defence, saying that it was “a rather obvious question”.
The notes detail a series of mistakes that led to the internal inquiry by Merseyside Police. Mrs Gilfoyle’s body was cut down without any photographs being taken. Evidence was destroyed or tainted. The existence of the inquiry was not disclosed to the defence before trial.
The records also indicate that officers let a mortuary assistant destroy the noose – a vital piece of evidence that could have revealed who tied it.
Last night Gilfoyle’s solicitor Matt Foot said that the disclosure could have changed the course of the trial. “It’s clear that the judge and the defence were left with the impression that there wasn’t an estimate of time of death given at the scene,” he said. “According to these notes, there was an estimate of the time of death. This was never put before the jury.”
He said that he would use the nondisclosure of the notes in a fresh plea to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice. Experts agree that establishing time of death is an inexact science. Gilfoyle’s hopes of establishing that he was wrongly convicted rest on the Crown’s failure to tell the jury the full story of what happened at the scene.
Mr Foot said: “It would have been extremely useful for the defence to have been able to explore with prosecution witnesses points raised by the notes.”
At the trial, the Crown insisted that Gilfoyle had tricked his wife into writing her suicide letter, then coaxed her into the garage where he hanged her.
The notes show that the officers knew that the marriage was unhappy and that Mrs Gilfoyle may have doubted that the baby was her husband’s. DNA tests later showed that Gilfoyle was the father. According to the notes, nothing at the scene suggested foul play. The notes emphasise that there was no evidence of a struggle. Her body had no marks or defensive injuries. The doctor examined her and decided that there was nothing suspicious. He was “99.9 per cent happy with it being a hanging”.
However, when family, friends and workmates described how happy and optimistic Mrs Gilfoyle had been, the police began to wonder if she might have been murdered.
The evidence at Gilfoyle’s trial was almost all circumstantial. Nearly twenty witnesses said that Mrs Gilfoyle had been making plans for the future. A trial source told The Times: “For two days, friends and relatives and workmates gave evidence in which they said that this girl was vivacious, bubbly, so excited about this new birth. The morning she ‘committed suicide’ she got books about children’s names. After two days of people saying she was happy, the idea that a pregnant woman hanged herself? The jury just looked astonished.”
Gilfoyle’s family contacted the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), which was so alarmed by its inquiry into the handling of the investigation that it alerted the Crown Prosecution Service to doubts about the conviction.
The criminal profiler David Canter, who worked with police to help to convict him, revealed last year that he had had second thoughts. Writing in The Times, he said that fresh research into suicide notes had persuaded him that Mrs Gilfoyle took her own life.
Alison Halford, who was a Merseyside assistant chief constable at the time, Desmond Browne, QC, the Chairman of the Bar Council, and Graham Gooch, the retired superintendent who investigated the case for the PCA, have all stated that the conviction was unsafe.
February 20, 2009
Nothing at Gilfoyle ‘crime scene’ to suggest anything other than wife’s suicide
Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor
Contained in a pile of neat handwritten notes is evidence of a devastating series of mistakes police made after they found Paula Gilfoyle hanged from a beam in her garage.
Merseyside Police say that no such notes were retained by the force but copies seen by The Times detail the blunders at the death scene. So serious were the errors that police held an internal inquiry.
The notes show there was nothing at the crime scene to suggest that Mrs Gilfoyle had been murdered and that police may have been present when a crucial piece of evidence was destroyed during the post-mortem examination. Most remarkable of all, the police surgeon estimated that Mrs Gilfoyle had died six hours before he saw the body.
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The doctor arrived at about 8.20pm at Mrs Gilfoyle’s home in Upton on June 4, 1992. Her husband, Eddie Gilfoyle, who was convicted of her murder, had been at work between 11.30am and 4.30pm.
Had Gilfoyle’s lawyers known of these papers, they could have used them to cross-examine witnesses. They were not even aware of the internal inquiry. It is the notes of that inquiry that The Times has seen.
At his trial Gilfoyle said that he returned home at 4.40pm and found the suicide note. He did not search the house or garage but instead rushed to his parents’ home for help. Eventually his brother-in-law, Paul Caddick, an off-duty police sergeant, was summoned. He discovered the body in the garage just after 7pm.
Mr Justice McCullough, the judge at Gilfoyle’s murder trial, expressed astonishment in court that the defence had received no estimate of the time of death in any of the documents it received. “It does seem a rather obvious question for somebody to have considered,” he said.
Alan Roberts, the police surgeon called to the death scene, told the court that Mrs Gilfoyle’s abdomen was still warm when he found her but that her hands and ankles were cold. There was also early rigor mortis. From that he estimated that she had died three to eight hours earlier.
The judge asked Dr Roberts if he had taken the temperature of the body, an important indicator of time of death. Dr Roberts, who did not have his notes while giving evidence, said that he had not. When it rejected Gilfoyle’s last attempt to clear his name, the Court of Appeal said: “Dr Roberts . . . was not asked to consider the time of death until the trial.”
Dr Roberts told The Times that he was unlikely to have given an exact time of death of six hours before he examined the body but might have suggested to police a window of several hours either side. He said that he was unaware at the trial of the potential damage to any Gilfoyle alibi of the estimate he gave to the jury.
According to the notes seen by The Times, an officer recalled: “Dr has said maybe dead 6 hrs nothing suspicious.” Nobody disputes that Gilfoyle was at his workplace six hours earlier.
The notes also suggest that Dr Roberts had commented on Mrs Gilfoyle’s temperature at the death scene. Under the heading “Surgeon”, the notes state: “Looked for marks, looked for bruises. Temp.” It is unstated whether “temp” refers to the general warmth of the body or a formal measurement. Dr Roberts told The Times that he did not measure Mrs Gilfoyle’s body temperature.
The notes show that he was quite satisfied the death was a suicide. A detective sergeant said that Dr Roberts was “99.9 per cent happy with it being a hanging. Slightly, not in position might always expect. Checked body over. Nothing suspicious on body. Lifted clothing. Fingernails ok.”
The notes also shed new light on one of the most extraordinary blunders made during the initial investigation, when the noose around Mrs Gilfoyle’s neck was removed and destroyed during the postmortem examination. The notes suggest that this may have been done despite the presence of police officers. They state: “Mortuary technician Mr Riley removed rope. Rope kept with clothing initially. Mr Riley asked if rope wanted. Told no. Disposed of. Rubbish – incinerator.”
It is unclear whether the advice that the assistant could discard the rope came from the pathologist or a police sergeant. A constable is described as having been “in or about the PM”. Had the defence known of the notes, both named officers could have been questioned at trial about how the noose came to be burnt. The Times has also seen a draft version of the internal inquiry report, which provides more details of the mistakes made at the death scene.
Mrs Gilfoyle’s body was cut down by police before crime scene experts or photographers arrived. “By cutting the body down the officer removed any opportunity for the detective officers to . . . carry out measurements or tests as to the feasibility of the deceased having hung herself.”
As for the remaining piece of rope, the coroner’s officer “decided to take the hanging rope down off the beam which he placed in his pocket . . . [He] was able to produce it later when the investigation developed”.
The crime scene officer arrived after other police had moved the body and allowed people to trample in and out of the garage. “He was in an invidious position with so much damage to the scene but carried out an examination of the body and clothing to satisfy himself that there were no defence marks or injuries.” The draft report makes clear that “there were no struggle marks/defensive injuries on the body”.
There is also a damaging admission that Merseyside Police failed to teach its officers the rudimentary requirements of how to treat a death scene. “It is quite apparent that procedures laid down in the MGI [force manual of general instruction] are scant in knowledge and instruction, and are quite basic.” Interviews for the internal inquiry appear to be dated July 1992, a month after Mrs Gilfoyle’s body was found. The trial did not take place until a year later.
— Many people were allowed in and out of the garage where Paula Gilfoyle’s body was found. Sand by the door was trampled, destroying possible footprints
— The body was examined in considerable detail by the police doctor, potentially causing evidence to be damaged
— The first policeman to arrive at the scene, the coroner’s officer, made crucial decisions about the investigation before CID appeared. He decided that Mrs Gilfoyle took her own life
— The coroner’s officer also cut down Mrs Gilfoyle body and lay her on the floor to “preserve her dignity”. No detective saw her hanging, though exact details would be important to establish murder or suicide
— A crime scene officer found that the knees of Mrs Gilfoyle’s trousers were dusty, the result of being dragged along the floor
— The coroner’s officer put part of the hanging rope in his pocket and removed it from the scene
— He also said that there was no need for photos because the coroner did not require them
— The noose was burnt by the mortuary assistant. Police may have been in the vicinity at the time
February 20, 2009
Paula Gilfoyle, ‘Walter Mitty’ and doubt over conviction
They endured an unhappy marriage but did Paula Gilfoyle decide to put an end to her own torment or did her husband concoct a fiendish plot to kill her and their unborn baby?
She worked all her life in a spark-plug factory and supplemented her income by running a catalogue business.
He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, then became an auxiliary nurse at a Bupa hospital, preparing surgical instruments for operations.
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Gilfoyle took Paula as his second wife in 1989. After they bought a bigger home in 1991, she lived with her parents and he moved into the house to renovate it.
That summer he began a liaison with his coworker Sandra Davies, saying that he was separated and inviting her to live with him. Mrs Gilfoyle’s pregnancy ended that dalliance. Mrs Davies, who had told her husband that she was leaving him for Gilfoyle, felt betrayed and dumped him. Gilfoyle confessed to his wife, who rang Mrs Davies and warned her off, moving in to their new home to prepare for the baby.
What happened next makes the difference between suicide and murder.
Notes in Mrs Gilfoyle’s handwriting were produced at the trial. The first confessed to an affair and said the father of the unborn child was her secret lover’s, a man called “Nigel”, who has never been traced. The rest expressed an intention to commit suicide. Yet to family and friends, she seemed to be looking forward to the baby and making plans for the future.
After Mrs Gilfoyle’s body was found in 1992, next to a stepladder presumably used in tying the rope to a beam, there was disbelief that she would kill herself two weeks before the birth.
Three friends went to the police and said that she had told a disturbing tale. Gilfoyle had dictated suicide notes to her, saying he needed them for a course at work, they said. Mrs Gilfoyle had said that he gave her a pen and paper and told her what to put down. One friend recalled that she had said that she was “a bit worried – Eddie’s frightening me”. As hearsay, the story was kept from the jury.
Police considered Gilfoyle was a “Walter Mitty character”. He served as an army ward orderly in the Falklands but may have painted himself as heroic. Joyce Preston, his boss in the Bupa hospital, said: “From what I gathered he was a stretcher-bearer, but you’d have thought he was a paramedic on some of the things [he said].”
Gilfoyle also exaggerated the importance of his civilian job, claiming to help in operations. He told police his wife admitted that the baby’s father was her sister’s husband. DNA tests showed the child was Gilfoyle’s.
At the trial, a video was played of a reconstruction with a pregnant policewoman standing on a stepladder. She managed to get the rope over the beam but was unable to tie a knot.
In 1993 Gilfoyle was unanimously found guilty by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court. Only when the Police Complaints Authority looked into the investigation in 1994 did formal concerns emerge. Its full report has not been released.
The authority took the unusual step of drawing the Crown Prosecution Service’s attention to doubts about the conviction. Three detectives were accused of neglect of duty. Two were cleared by the Chief Constable; the other had retired.
Gilfoyle lost his first appeal in 1995. Judges rejected the account of a witness, Maureen Piper, who claimed she saw Mrs Gilfoyle at 12.40pm the day of her death, which would have made it impossible for her husband to kill her before he went to work. Mrs Piper’s description of Mrs Gilfoyle’s light clothing suggested the sighting had been the previous Thursday, which had been fine, rather than the day of her death, which had been rainy.
A second appeal was thrown out in 2000 when expert evidence on pathology and knots was considered. Last year fresh doubt was thrown on that judgment, already regarded as contentious in legal circles, when it was revealed that the judges had thought the suicide note left by Mrs Gilfoyle had been typed when, in fact, it was handwritten.
Supporters have created a website, eddiegilfoyle.co.uk, to campaign to clear his name.
February 20, 2009
Pregnancy may have driven police hunt
Friends and family of Paula Gilfoyle found it impossible to believe that she could have committed suicide and experts said that it was very rare for a pregnant woman to kill herself.
This incredulity and horror may have helped drive police to look for another explanation — which only could have been murder; and her erring husband was the obvious candidate.
Peter Marzuk, a psychiatrist at Cornell University Medical College in New York, said: “It would be unusual for a woman at a very advanced stage of pregnancy to commit suicide”. Professor Marzuk has noted that a foetus creates serotonin, some of which may find its way to the mother’s brain. A higher level of serotonin reduces the risk of depression and impulsive behaviour. He suggested in the American Journal of Psychiatry that, even if a pregnant woman was depressed, the serotonin made her less likely to act on any suicidal impulses.
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Lanny Berman, of the American Association of Suicidology, which promotes research and education, said that some factors could put expectant mothers in danger. “In general, pregnancy protects against suicide, as she who is pregnant is bonding with the child-to-be and is generally eager to be a mother – of course, this is not true of all pregnant women,” Dr Berman said. “Women with a personal or family history of depression, relationship or personal difficulties, unplanned pregnancy, previous miscarriage, pregnancy complications, or a history of emotional, physical or sexual abuse, may be more at risk.”
A study of England and Wales between 1973 and 1984 showed pregnant women to be 20 times less likely to commit suicide than other women.
The Times February 20, 2009
Police finally accept the existence of witness papers
Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor
The police force that investigated Eddie Gilfoyle for murder has accepted for the first time that police did take notes of interviews with officers who attended the scene of his wife’s hanging.
The notes were never shown to the jury in his trial for murder in 1993 and could prove vital to his defence.
Merseyside Police has previously denied that the notes existed and only formally changed its position after The Times faxed it copies of documents sent to the newspaper. The Times has now lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner, who is responsible for ensuring that public bodies comply with their duties to disclose material held.
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Pat Gallan, Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside, who had previously told the newspaper that “there are no notes”, has begun an urgent search for them at force headquarters.
The admission opens the door for Gilfoyle to seek a fresh appeal against his conviction on the ground that the Crown failed to disclose notes of the interviews to the defence before trial. After Paula Gilfoyle’s body was found hanged in her garage in June 1992, Merseyside Police ordered a swift internal inquiry into a string of blunders at the scene.
The police had initially treated the death as a tragic suicide. When they decided to open a murder investigation it was quickly obvious that vital evidence may have been lost.
All the officers who attended Mrs Gilfoyle’s garage were interviewed for what became known as the “Humphreys inquiry”, run by Detective Superintendent Ernest Humphreys.
He was scathing about shortcomings that showed that even basic points in the force’s manual of general instruction were ignored.
He quoted the rulebook’s warning: “There may be a good reason for treating a suspected suicide as murder, but there is no excuse for treating a suspected murder as suicide.”
His inquiry was completed after Gilfoyle had been arrested for murder but before he was charged. As a result, all officers were issued with laminated cards reminding them what to do if they found a body.
The existence of the internal investigation was kept from Gilfoyle’s defence. Records of interviews with officers who are potential witnesses in a murder trial should be retained and disclosed.
The internal inquiry only came to light when Gilfoyle’s sisters and father called in the Police Complaints Authority to investigate Merseyside’s handling of the case. By then, Gilfoyle was serving a life sentence.
Merseyside officers gave conflicting accounts to the authority about note-taking. One said that he could recall no notes being made; the other said that he made notes that were later destroyed.
When The Times last year used freedom of information (FOI) laws to ask for a copy of the notes, Merseyside Police said that they had information that “no such notes ever existed”.
However, after being sent a copy of the papers seen by The Times, Ms Gallan stated that “paperwork [indicates] that notes taken at the time had not been retained. In the light of your information, I have instructed the FOI team to carry out further searches (you will appreciate the task is not a minor undertaking) and to advise me further as a matter of urgency.”
February 25, 2008
Yes, I got it wrong – and then an ‘innocent’ man was jailed for life
Fourteen years ago David Canter helped to convict a man of murdering his pregnant wife. The psychologist explains why he now rejects crucial evidence of a fake suicide note
In 1992 I was asked to assist a murder inquiry by commenting on the authorship of a suicide note in the handwriting of Paula Gilfoyle. I had provided guidance to a number of other big investigations.
The police officer leading the inquiry presented the suicide note to me with the fascinating thesis that it had been dictated to Paula by her husband, Eddie, who was believed then to have encouraged Paula to put her neck in a noose while he stood behind her, after which he killed her by lifting her legs to hang her.
I was told that it was believed that Eddie had murdered Paula, who was eight and a half months pregnant, after tricking her into writing the suicide note on the pretext that he needed it for a paramedical evening class he was taking. His motive, in the crime novel tradition, was hinted at being an affair that he was having.
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I have always been fascinated by the psychological implications of the written word, having even studied my own correspondence with my childhood friend, the film director Mike Leigh, when I was a student in the 1960s. In the context of crime the written word can often be regarded as the crime scene, especially when I have given guidance on threat and extortion, for which the text provides the criminal act.
So I worked with some postgraduate research assistants to consider how we might analyse Paula’s suicide note to determine if it did indicate her intention to kill herself. It is important to emphasise that from the start that I did not think we could establish authorship categorically but needed to consider the note in its whole context.
Part of my report was the result of comparing the suicide note with other written material we had of Eddie’s and of Paula’s. The approach that we took to analysing all this material was highly numerical; the proportions of personal pronouns, connectives, sentence lengths and so on.
But we had no firm basis in previous research to work from. No one has been able to provide a truly reliable, objective, numerically based procedure for determining authorship with small examples of text. There is a tremendous difficulty in doing this because we all change how we speak and write depending on the circumstances of our communication. In fact, a moment’s thought about the nature of communication reveals that we must change it in accordance with the situation.
The written material we were working with was a great mixture of jottings left in notebooks, letters to friends, postcards and a series of notes that Paula wrote to Eddie about their relationship. So comparison of the text across them was very problematic. However, I came to the conclusion that the suicide note was not typical of Paula’s style, nor was it typical of Eddie’s and taking all the circumstances and note into account formed the opinion that Paula “had not intended to take her own life”.
My report was never presented to the court but apparently had an influence behind the scenes. But I had always been curious about how a pregnant woman would write a suicide note under dictation from her husband with whom she had had a strained relationship, and then put her head in a noose with him standing behind her. So when the opportunity arose a few years later for me to talk to Eddie and his family (an option I had been denied as a prosecution expert) I jumped at it. The picture that emerged from these discussions was much less clear than the original story. There was no strong evidence that Eddie had ever dictated a suicide note, or even claimed that he was doing a course as a paramedic, just hearsay from friends of Paula, which was never presented to the court.
By the time I met Eddie I had been able to oversee a variety of other studies on text and authorship and had formed the view that the purely numerical approach could be very misleading. I had developed an interest and understanding of the need to reveal the implicit and explicit narrative in any material, possibly closer to an English Literature approach than a purely statistical one.
This set me to consider the unfolding story within the correspondence between Eddie and Paula that culminated in the suicide note. To my surprise I realised that no one had ever done that. The documentary evidence of the relationship between these two people leading up to Paula’s death had never been reviewed in sequence, either in the original court case or at Eddie’s first appeal. All the focus was on circumstantial evidence from apparent witnesses.
Eddie and Paula had been on different shifts so left a dozen or more crucial notes for each other. When I read these through in sequence a very clear narrative emerged. This showed Paula’s disquiet about her pregnancy and relationship to Eddie for which the suicide note was a natural ending.
Furthermore, the related research, which has recently been supported even more strongly in a major doctorate that I have supervised, emphasised that the point of suicide notes is often to excuse people who take their own lives. The notes typically take the form of an apology to exonerate close relatives. Fewer than half of those who take their own life leave suicide notes; some studies put the figure as low as 15 per cent. Notes are usually left because they know how hurtful and unacceptable the death will be to others. This is exactly what Paula’s suicide note is about. With a bitter irony, it is mainly devoted to telling Eddie not to blame himself.
In addition, we have also found that in about a tenth of suicides there are no obvious prior indicators. This means that the judges’ claims in both the original trial and two appeals, that Paula’s demeanour in contact with others, was clear evidence that she did not intend to kill herself, completely ignored what many now recognise, even with the recent suicides around Bridgend. People can present a happy face to the world while still intending to kill themselves.
All these matters and other factors, most notably the demanding creative imagination, beyond Eddie’s abilities, that would be needed to invent the sequence of notes and letters changed my opinion. I formed the view that my original analysis had been too greatly, if inadvertently, influenced by the story that the police had originally given to me. The reliance on number crunching was also misleading. I therefore wrote a further report for Eddie’s second appeal which argued that there was a psychological logic that made it very likely that Paula had taken her own life.
David Canter is Professor of Psychology at the University of Liverpool
The Times February 20, 2009
How The Times uncovered the notes that ‘didn’t exist’
Dominic Kennedy: Behind the story
The innocuous-looking bundle of documents arrived on my desk at The Times a few months ago. Inside could be the key to a 15-year-old mystery.
When the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) looked into the Gilfoyle murder inquiry in 1994, investigators wanted to know what had happened to the notes of an internal review ordered into mistakes at the scene of Paula Gilfoyle’s death. The two officers responsible for the inquiry gave the PCA contrasting accounts of what happened to the notes.
The PCA report states: “In a written statement to the Investigating Officer, Ch Supt Humphreys claims that no written statements were given and furthermore to the best of his recollection no notes were
“DI McDiarmid, however, recalls in his statement that he took notes of the interviews with the witnesses. He then used those notes with Humphreys to assist in compiling the report. The notes were then destroyed.”
As part of my investigation into the conviction of Eddie Gilfoyle, I wondered who had ordered the destruction of the notes and why. I never expected to find the actual handwritten records.
Under freedom of information, I asked Merseyside last March for a copy of the notes. Carl Dewhurst, a disclosure analyst, replied saying “information is held that indicates that no such notes ever existed”.
I requested an internal review of this decision, pointing out that the PCA had been told that the notes did exist but had been destroyed.
Then, by chance, a contact sent me a pile of papers to peruse about the Gilfoyle case. They had been sitting in an old box for years. Among them were a set of notes of interviews with police officers, written by an unknown hand or hands.
The 20 pages of handwritten notes, numbered 54 to 73, appeared to cover interviews conducted on different dates in July 1992 between Mrs Gilfoyle’s death and the completion of the internal inquiry report, of which I already had a copy.
There was only one thing that did not fit. While most of the notes were dated 1992, two pages, albeit in similar handwriting, appeared to postdate them by several years: Monday, July 20, 1996. Yet I had information from an official source that proves the notes predate 1996.
A quick check shows that Monday, July 20, 1996, never existed, but that July 20 fell on a Monday in 1992. It appears there had been a slip of the pen.
The evidence that these are the missing notes is overwhelming. These interviews are with the same officers who were questioned for the internal review. They describe the initial police response to the death, which was the subject of the review. Exact passages from the notes appear in the review’s final report, some of them in speech marks.
So these were the notes that Merseyside had three times said did not exist. They included fresh detail about the state of mind of the police officers at the scene, the new fact that an estimate of the time of death had been given (which might have helped Gilfoyle with an alibi) and the lack of any suspicious circumstances.
What a precious resource that would have been for the defence at the trial. I awaited the result of the internal review. The Assistant Chief Constable, Patricia Gallan, wrote back saying: “There are no notes.”
Eddie Gilfoyle: transcript of police notes
Notes taken during interviews with officers who attended the scene of Paula Gilfoyle’s death 17 years ago
Brian Jones Mon 20/7/96 \
10 yrs many scenes – hanging – various positions
4.6.92 Officer on cover
1945 phone call from DCR \ – home address. woman hanging 6 Grafton Drive. left notes signifying her intent
2000 Arrived uniform officer Con Tosney by garage
Sgt Paul Caddick coming out front door
Introduced by PC to DS her brother in law
Both at front of house found there left notes signifying intent
Do ID straight away.
Stepladder on left of body abreast. Could have touched floor with feet
One foot on tread one hooked over
Con opened front door. double door, wooden, yale PC got key Opened it \ door sufficient to walk in.
Paula Gilfoyle Caddick says
Stand minds door of garage.
Identifies body. Still hanging.
Cut down either after ID or after speaking to Caddick in kitchen.
Caddick excuses himself to go house, upset.
Story from PC. To kitchen
speak to Caddick
Cut down because of notes – ID – obv dead – preserve dignity.
Take weight, officer cut rope with own penknife
Placed on the floor.
Surgeon on the way. Garage left in control of PC. locked and with key. Rope around neck.
other piece still on beam. Stepladder still there.
To house Paul Caddick in kitchen
Joined by DS Webster and DC?
They greet Caddick Learned from talks that Eddie retd home 4.30pm. Finds note(s), feels she has left home. Goes to fathers home and they start enqs amongst relatives – B’ham etc.
Caddick contacted by?
Caddick goes to house finds her at 7.30pm.
Father-in-law to home, speaks with Paul picks up phone to ring her parents
What has happened. Tells him to enlighten as to what he knew and then to go and tell parents.
Confirmed Eddie’s call earlier and then leaves.
DS Webster talking with Caddick in kitchen.
DC Finnegan arrives SOCO.
Discussion over father of child she is about to have.
Caddick got notes talking with Sgt Webster. Doubt about child, admitted he not father a while ago.
Pressure building up as birth gets nearer.
Finnegan asking re photos. Stated no
No photos shown @ inquest.
Dr Alan Roberts then arrives to garage confirms death.
Wishes to take photos avoiding face for lecture purposes
To take rope down to alleviate family
Took rope down using ladder. Untied rope
Surgeon: Looked for marks, looked for bruises. Temp. Exposed forearms rigor setting in in legs
Looked for bruising around body
pulled sweatshirt up etc.
DS Webster not examine the scene.
Await contractors to remove body.
did not see any uniform supervision.
cannot remember any colleagues, cannot say.
Gilfoyle returned and into house.
To hospital with them book in at Arrowe Park into mortuary. Stretcher wrapped in sheet.
Fridges Wrist band re ID.
rope still with Coroners Officer.
Got notes (2) as well.
Friday am next day
0910 Paul Caddick rings
Come with Eddie – discuss
At hospital when Caddick arrived at office at 1100.
Came with Norman Gilfoyle
Spoke to Sgt Lancaster-Smith
Talked about the suicide
PM that morning @ hospital by hospital pathologist
Dr Gillett Martin
Con Thompson in or about the PM
Decision – hanging
Mortuary technician removed rope
rope kept with clothing initially
Mr Riley asked if rope wanted
told no – (Gillett or Lancaster/Smith)
Rubbish – incinerator
Sgt Lancaster-Smith rings to see if going in on Monday
Contacted over weekend by local people.
disquiet over Paula’s death.
am At Arrowe Park. Sgt rings D/Supt Robbins at Wallasey
Disquiet from others @ Upton \
11am meeting @ next door
PM by \ 1600 hrs.
SOCO in attendance @ PM.
letter and rope passed over as exhibits to CID
Coroners Officers have on occasion not been told of deaths with pot for inquest
No rules re CID attendance or batting order
None exp of scene involvement or investigation
Different Coroners Districts may work differently together
J Tosney 23/7/92
7.30pm phone call from Paul Caddick
bit of bother bring MFH book father had left
met on drive by Caddick
b-in-l inside with his mother
distraught found 2 suicide notes
not found her
called Caddick in, I’ve decided to call \
He to do search
Tosney to do MFH 1st line
Caddick comes in and calls him outside
I’ve found her
Took outside opens garage door
look in see her hanging
Obvious dead, shut door don’t go inside.
He goes to tell husband
Con Tosney on radio, explain the job, ask for CID/SOC
DCR asked do you want Coroners Officer infd – yes.
keep a log
Sgt Caddick states Edward and mother going to parental home in \ once the father retd
Check – no internal doors, locks door and held key. Father retd wife and all 3 left.
1st one to scene was Coroners Officer
Tell Cor Off, he speaks to Caddick
He views the body. Speaks to Caddick
He decided to cut the body down. Infd him that CID/SOCO were on the way.
Still up in the air, not convinced
Happy to leave her there.
Went to cut down with Jones
Caddick in house
Cut down and lay on floor
rope still on beam. locked up
DS Webster/DC Leeman arrived and viewed the body
All 4 in house with officer
Dr/SOCO arrived together
Jones with Dr and SOCO to garage at same time
Jones then had key to the garage
In to house himself with 2 CID.
Dr came in with Jones
Ray Webster asked if photos taken
Yes Dr has, but not SOCO
I’ve sent him away.
No need it’s a suicide, Drs taken him own.
Father retd Brian Jones talking to Caddick and reading the notes
8.55 pm Call to contractors
Back into garage, body onto stretcher into van. Jones to deal.
Search for notes. None found. With Caddick
Officer then threw away log.
Brian Jones – report.
Saw with rope in pocket only assume did that with SOCO and Coroner.
No uniform supervision attd or requested
Not requested – CID
2/7/92 DI FITZSIMMONS
DCR appears no set format for contact on deaths Suspicious deaths tell CID
Sudden death – contact call – DS/DC if told suspicious
Uniform supervision? (Nelson job).
Any suspicion at all DI to go
8.10 DI @ Hoylake doing paper work
Rang B’head. told by the way re hanging
Rang DCR – bleeped – not bleeped
wrong bleeper no. on notepad on computer @ B’head.
Lack of knowledge of CID role and responsibility
DCR advice DI 38y woman hanging – pregnant. Not happy so to go.
Message – Grafton Drive – A-Z – Then message from DCR to cancel. From DCR
8.15pm possibly Ray Webster
Still went – 5 miles away. DS Webster there
8.35pm Grafton Drive
in the house PC Tosney. garage door shut/locked
Paul Caddick, DS Webster, DC Leeman
Brian Jones. Door open admitted.
DS Webster and PC Tosney to one side
(Just after arrived f-in-l arrived.)
Ask story 38y female (actually 32, 38 weeks pregnant.
Told husband gone to work @ Bupa Hospital Murrayfield late shift. (12.30pm-8.30pm)
Wife OK when left. Come home early
come in no sign of wife found a letter on kitchen work top (2 letters)
put to DI as suicide letters. One was the other possibly in advance about leaving him. He had panicked and run out looking for her. Gone to his parents. Parents had come to the house ring family and friends looking for her.
One being Paul CADDICK. He had turned up. Being a police officer he had checked the house, husband there with his parents. Paul checks garage and finds her
She had marital probelms and upset. Read the letters and spoke to Paul Caddick. IDs handwriting not Eddies
Family taken Eddie away as distraught
Look at body – with Ray Webster
Ray and admitted
She on floor legs bent head towards door
On right side, one leg on other
Ligature around neck \
Good look at body. Looking at neck marks, scratch marks etc.
Told police surgeon already looked at it.
dust marks on knees
Thats were \ dropped to floor by Brian Jones.
No drag marks on floor or body.
no disarranged clothing
No sign of resistance, wrists, nails etc.
Brian Jones cut down to preserve her dignity for the family. Hanging rope was not there either in garage or Brian Jones had it.
Ladder folded up and against the wall.
Told feet had been on ladder, legs parallel to the ground. One foot resting on the other.
Dr has said maybe dead 6 hrs nothing suspicious.
DI querys SOCO photographs? Ray said – SOCO have been, all been done etc.
No uniform supervision
When told on the Monday rang Hoylake
Get photos printed up quickly believing they had been done
Ray Webster Mon 20/7/96
Told @ Upton by \ lines engaged
To page Mr FITZSIMMONS.
with DC Leeman.
To house PC @ front door
Into home Caddick Brian Jones.
Brian had 2 suicide notes
Attitude of nothing in it for you
To garage with Brian and Colin
Reiterate re Soco attendance
open door partly
looked at ceiling looked at floor
feet on step ladder but body on floor
\ head to garage door
told cut the rope.
Dr attended 99.9 % happy with it being a hanging. Slightly, not in position might always expect.
Checked body over.
Nothing suspicious on body
\ on floor
DI arrived to look at body
Asked about photos
Brian said don’t need them anymore. Bit odd
To garage with Brian Jones. Tells cut body down. There when Dr examined.
Back to house reading notes.
SOCO to garage. See Coroners Officer.
After SOCO left learned no photos
that day or next
Det Insp arrived after SOCO left and surgeon. Took DI in to look
locked, got key. No marks on body
went back in spoke to Caddick etc.
Caddick shocked, knew nothing of difficulties.
Got impression Eddie seen by Brian Jones.
Father-in-law, no straight answer
Back to house – searched. Not search the garage.
Ring her parents re dead pregnant woman. Told not to do that.
No uniform supervision attended
22/7/92 DC Leeman Colin
? At Upton police station
Both on phone.
Sgt came up
DCR trying to contact
Rang DCR told a suicide hanging @ Grafton Drive ? Request to attend. Request DI to attend
Arrive PC Tosney Brian Jones there
Paul Caddick there all in house
Told by Tosney what circs were re suicide notes formed impression it was a suicide from what told.
Tosney may have been @ door
Faced with fait accompli
Regular on Wirral that Coroners Office 1st there and he makes the decision
Husband distressed and gone to parents
Sgt Caddick very upset. Notes re Nigel
Not untoward suspicion because pregnant at that size. Decision it was a suicide, cancel the DI
Soco en route.
no uniform supervision
Told body cut down. Not left there just for photos. Thought wrong.
To garage through main door
Female lying on floor stepladder on left. Rope on beam gone.
Police surgeon attended
Certify death not there then when examined the body. Spoke to Caddick
Saw Jim Finnegan at the house. Thought there to take photos and believed he was.
Tosney spoke to husband. Nothing suggested anything untoward or reason to speak to husband.
22.7.92 DC Finnegan
Paged by DCR, on radio
directed to scene
Garage when opened door
2 CID, 1 unif, Coroner, Dr – all had to come out to let SOCO in.
By then damage done, body on floor etc
What would photos achieved.
Builders sand by door, well trampled on footprints destroyed.
Talked with Dr Brian Jones stated no need for photos.
No request for photos from CID.
Examined hands, feet, clothes, shoes etc nails etc for any sign.
38 weeks pregnant, wasn’t happy about that.
Not aware of note, asked question but no reply