Why is William Gage serving a life sentence for murder?
Even the BBC “Frontline Scotland believes this man William Gage is in jail for a murder he didn’t commit”. These are the opening words of BBC Frontline Scotland’s 2005 programme Beyond Reasonable Doubt about the conviction of William Gage for the murder of Justin McIlroy.
The question is, is William Gage Scotland’s Barry George? Gage’s conviction is a purely circumstantial case that relies on highly questionable evidence and hostile crown witnesses, who were led to give false identification of a white car at trial by the prosecution.
Why? To prop up a supposition, which we are asked to believe that a white car, found at 10pm at night, 40/50 minutes after the murder, even though it is about a 20 minute drive away from the murder scene, is the getaway car that has been used kill Justin McIlroy. Where is the evidence that this white car found in Easterhouse was the getaway vehicle used to gun down McIlroy outside his home in Cambuslang? The only evidence against William Gage is the so-called sighting of a white car, not the make, not the registration, just a white car. William Gage is serving a life sentence on the supposed sighting of a white car, which he may or may not have been in contact with. The real question is, what is the evidence that connects the white car to the gunning down of Justin McIlroy?
First lets look at Lord Emslie Statement about the evidence found in the white car, as we are to believe that articles found in the car show it was used for shooting Justin McIlroy. Now there is no denying William Gage might have come into contact with the car, and some articles of clothing which were found in the car, as William Gage, along with two friends, was buying and selling used cars in the year running up to this incident. But has the car, and its contents, anything to do with the shooting of Justin McIlroy, according to the trial judge Lord Emslie in his note to the Appeal in 2005, stated
“If the jacket in particular was not proved to be worn by the killer then the whole of the Crown’s evidence of D.N.A. and F.D.R. would become irrelevant and academic. In that event, it would be difficult or impossible to establish any link by corroborated evidence, between the appellant and the murder”
The prosecutions argument is, that because William Gage’s DNA was found on this jacket, along with Firearm Discharge Residue F.D.R., that this jacket must have been worn that night and worn by William Gage when he fired the weapon, but does the evidence stand up. Firstly was this the jacket worn by the killer? Not according to all of the witnesses at the locus, who all described the jacket as puffed or bubbled, yet the jacket in the car was a thin black cagoule. As for William’s DNA there was also 4 other DNA traces on the item of clothing, hardly conclusive proof that William Gage’s wore this jacket.
What about the F.D.R. which the prosecution claims, shows that the killer who wore this jacket fired a gun. This is highly unlikely as only 6 F.D.R. particles were found on the jacket, and according to Dr John Lloyd former Home Office Forensic Scientist,
“when a gun is fired, this primer when it is fired turns into thousands and thousands of minute particles”.
But only 6 were found on this jacket three on the surface and three particles in the pocket, this has most likely come from cross-cross contamination, even in the U.S.A a number of
States will not allow the use of FDR as evidence as it is highly contaminable. So there is no proof that this jacket was worn when a gun was fired, and certainly no proof to link it with a bubble or padded jacket that had been described by 5 of his neighbours as the style of
jacket worn by the shooter who had just fired 5 bullets into Justin McIlroy, the jacket in the car was a thin black cagoule.
The White Car
The next part of this ludicrous proposition is that the white car in which the jacket was found was the getaway car, this leads us back to the white car and how it got to Easterhouse. At the trial the prosecution rested their case on three witnesses, all of whom were deemed hostile crown witnesses. All three say they saw a ‘white car’ leaving the area. In the case of one witness, Steven Maddens, the jury was removed when he was given evidence, in order to warn him that if he continued prevaricating he would face a charge of contempt of court.
The other Agnes Edgar was only 15 year old when her statements were taken. Neither would give straight answers at trial, and would often only answer yes or no to the numerous statements the police had taken. At one point Agnes Edgar stated in the
“ As I said to the Procurator Fiscal the police officer (Quinn &
Murdoch) interrogated me for 9 hours, I’m sorry but I don’t like to be accused of shooting somebody that I know. I don’t like to be told that I can’t have a psychiatrist or a social worker when I need it”.
The advocate depute for the Prosecution Alan McKay, read to her from her second statement, S165A, he states “
when we were leaving the garage I saw Justin McIlroy driving his jeep
up Hamilton Road”.
When asked in court if she had said this to the police, she replied that she could not
remember, Alan McKay the A.D. continued at the trail to read from her statement
“I could see another car a bit behind Justin’s jeep, I now think the
car I saw behind Justin’s jeep was similar to the one I saw parked in the lay
When asked by the A.D did she say this to the police, again her reply was
“I can’t remember”,
he goes on to ask her about statement S165A
“well did you say this to the police”, “the car I saw driving behind Justin’s jeep was white” she eventually and reluctantly acquiesced.
Stephen Maddens, who it must be remembered was a witness for the crown, had to be coached through his statements that he gave to the Police. He also agreed that he had lied to the Police in his first statement, when they started reading from his second statement he continued to be evasive, when asked if he saw the white car parked at the locus, and is asked “did you say that to the Police” he replies three times “I’m not sure”. At that point Lord Emslie stopped the proceedings, and retired the jury, and warned Maddens about his prevarication and that if he continues it could lead to charges of contempt of court. After this warning and as soon as the jury returns, he’s asked again about seeing “a white car parked in that position” the time his reply is a positive “yeah”.
It is obvious Maddens is being questioned under duress and is a reluctant witness. He goes on to infer that the reason he remembers the car is because he saw it earlier when Agnes Edgar draws attention to Justin’s jeep on Hamilton Road.
Theproblem with this line of questioning is that Justin McIlroy was never anywhere near Hamilton road as he was supposedly seen on by Madden and Edgars, we now know this to be a fact, as Justin’s movements that night were recorded on three CCTV cameras, and therefore their story of seeing the white car following Justin McIlroy’s jeep is completely false. It should be noted that Maddens in his first statement stated to Police that he did a u-turn and went straight up the road. The recollection of these two witnesses is highly dubious and should not be allowed to stand. Both of them had handpicked statements read to them by the prosecution, including the one that places Justin McIlroy in Hamilton Road being followed by a white car, they could have been mistaken, but what was fact at the time of trial, was Justin McIlroy’s movements that night, and the only people who knew that was the police and prosecution. So why did the Advocate Depute Alan McKay,
read to her from her second statement, S165A, “when we were leaving the garage
I saw Justin McIlroy driving his jeep up Hamilton Road”.
Which he must have known to be incorrect. Why was Alan Mackay the Prosecutor allowed to lead witnesses, harangue them from their statement to say they saw a white car, information he should have known, must have known the victims movements leading up to his death, to be false. Just to tie in the sighting of a white car to the supposition?
The other witness who gave evidence for the crown, Charles Bowman, was stabbed to death with a sword three years ago in a gang fight. Charles Bowman was yet another reluctant crown witness, who in his first statement (which any psychologist will tell you is normally the clearest for memory recall) stated that he “did not hear or see anything
unusual” but by the time he got to trial he had made a further four statements. This witness was sure it was a Volvo, not a SAAB as found; he only changed it after being shown a picture of the SAAB, and then the SAAB itself. However two witnesses, never used for some unknown reason, have questioned Bowman as a reliable witness, one questions whether he could have seen anything from his position in the site office, the person that questions this, is the site foreman, who according to him
“ would be very, very surprised if anyone could see very much in Newton Station Road and you could see only the top half of Newton Station towards the roundabout and then only a very small part of it anyway. You would only be able to see the east side of the road”.
The getaway car according to all three witnesses was on the west side of the road.
The other witness, was a joiner who was working with Charles Bowman 2 month after
the shooting, goes further and states that what Charles Bowman had said to him
“the gist of what he told me was that, basically, he had seen very little and heard only the screech of tyres. He went to the front window to look but could only see the rear of a motor vehicle. He told me that the police were trying to put “ a bit pressure” on him say that what he had seen was a white car but he did say that what he had seen was definitely not a white car that the police had suggested”.
There can be little doubt that all three witnesses gave evidence that is highly dubious, if not false, at the trial about the sighting of Justin’s jeep and the white car in Cambuslang.
It is now 7 years on and William Gage continues to languish in Shotts prison fighting for justice. He has an appeal starting on the 13th of December, but anyone looking at this case wonders if the Scottish legal system can correct such a miscarriage. When the evidence that convicted was so erroneously circumstantial in the first place, and therefore, for justice to be done the legal establishment would have to admit to its erroneous abuse of power, both by police and prosecution, in linking such flimsy evidence coupled with highly questionable crown witnesses, in convicting a man because of a white car. Not the make, or registration, but a white car. A mans life hangs in the balance because of a white car.