2. The Marriage
Eddie and Paula Gilfoyle were married in June 1989. A former British Army medic who served during the Falklands conflict, he was employed as a Theatre Assistant at a private hospital. Paula worked on the assembly line at a spark plug factory. She also ran a catalogue mail order business from her home. In 1991, they moved from their first home in Wallasey, Wirral and bought a three bedroom house in Grafton Drive, Upton – a small village some five miles outside Birkenhead. The house required extensive renovation and the couple stayed with Paula’s parents pending completion. After two months with her parents, Eddie moved into Grafton Drive. By then, the remaining work needed at the house was largely decorative. Paula refused to leave her parents’ home until all the work was finished.
Eddie in the army
Eddie & Paula's Wedding Day
Their marriage – which initially had been contented – came under strain. Relations between the couple deteriorated further when Paula went on holiday to Turkey. Eddie felt the money spent on the trip should instead have gone towards the cost of refurbishing their home. He continued to work on the house with help from his father and a friend who he paid to undertake specific jobs. On her return from holiday, Paula went back to her parents’ home. She called at Grafton Drive regularly on her way back from work to see how the renovation was progressing. Eddie occasionally spent the night with Paula at her parents’ home. She still refused to move in to the house and remained at her parents for a further three months.
(That are relevant to this chapter)
During this turbulent time, Eddie became close to a work colleague Sandra Davies who was also experiencing marital difficulties. She stated at Eddie’s trial that their relationship had not become physical and they never saw each other outside work. Meanwhile, relations between Eddie and Paula worsened. She continued to reject his requests for her to move to Grafton Drive. On one occasion, Eddie threatened to institute separation proceedings. By October 1991, he concluded his marriage was effectively over. He invited Sandra Davies to move in with him. She agreed. Eddie contacted Paula to inform her of his intentions. He asked her to collect possessions she had left at Grafton Drive. When she came to the house, Paula announced she was pregnant. She said the child had been conceived on one of the occasional nights they had spent together. During an emotional evening, Paula agreed to move to Grafton Drive. Eddie telephoned Sandra to inform her of Paula’s pregnancy and that he would now be staying with his wife. Paula also spoke to Sandra and warned her to keep away from Eddie.
The ’Nigel’ letter
In the months following his reconciliation with Paula, the atmosphere at work between Eddie and Sandra was understandably awkward. In a misguided attempt to relieve the tension between them, he sent Sandra a Valentine card together with a birthday card (she was born on 11 February). In April 1992, Paula wrote a letter to Eddie which stated that he was not the father of her unborn child:
"I am having to write it down on paper as I can't tell you face to face. The baby I'm carrying is not yours. I have been having an affair for the last 14 months with a guy called Nigel. The baby is his… Hopefully by the weekend I'll be out of your life for good and I'll be starting my new life with Nigel."
In a distressed state, he gave Paula’s letter to Sandra who showed it to a friend. Sandra returned the letter and made it clear she had no wish to be involved in his marital problems. He then approached his manager and told her what Paula had written. His manager agreed to send him home. Paula, however, did not leave on this occasion. A pattern of behaviour developed over the next few weeks in which she would tell Eddie she’d be leaving him on a certain day or week only to remain. Because they both worked shifts, Eddie and Paula were in the habit of leaving messages for each other in an exercise book. One of Eddie’s entries reads:
"...true there is no love left between us, but there again there is no hate. We are parting on good terms and that can only be good for us both as we start to re-build our lives, you with Nigel and the baby and me on my own."
Eddie said that on 2 June 1992, Paula told him the child’s father was not the fictitious ‘Nigel’ but likely to be another individual who she named. She allowed for a possibility that the child might be Eddie’s but was more convinced the father was the other man. In the course of a long talk, Paula and Eddie agreed they would move well away from the Wirral to bring up the child. Eddie telephoned his brother who managed a Bournemouth hotel to explore the possibility (he said for a ‘friend’) of securing accommodation and work in that area. Throughout the next day and evening, Paula avoided making any further disclosures regarding her relationship with the other man.