3. Paula's Death
At approximately 16.40 pm on 4 June 1992, Eddie returned home from work. He found in the kitchen a two page letter in Paula’s handwriting addressed to him. He only read the first few lines which read
"Dear Eddie. I’ve decided to put an end to everything and in doing so ended a chapter in my life that I can’t face up to any longer. I don’t want to have this baby that I’m carrying. I wish now that I’d got rid of it…"
Distraught and anxious, Eddie drove to his parents’ home which was some ten minutes away. At this stage, he thought Paula had finally left him (it’s not until much later in the letter that her intention to take her own life is made explicit).
Eddie’s mother Jessie was at home. She was in poor health and did not have a telephone. Eddie was extremely upset and barely able to explain what had happened. She read the whole letter and advised Eddie they should wait until his father, Norman came home so he could help look for Paula. In the meantime, Jessie tried to reassure her son that the letter was a cry for help rather than indicating a real intention to commit suicide. Norman Gilfoyle arrived home at approximately 18.10 pm around 40 minutes later than usual. After reading the letter, he drove Eddie and Jessie to Grafton Drive. Norman Gilfoyle searched the house to no avail and then telephoned Paula’s family and friends in an attempt to ascertain her whereabouts. Eddie showed his mother the ‘Nigel’ letter. By 19.00 pm, it was clear Paula wasn’t in any of the places she might have been expected to be. Norman telephoned his son in law Paul Caddick who was a police sergeant at the local station but was off duty at the time. He arrived at the house at 19.10 pm and was shown Paula’s letter. He telephoned Upton police station and asked a colleague, PC James Tosney to come to the house. Sgt. Caddick searched the property’s outbuildings and then opened the doors of the garage at the side of the house. He saw Paula hanging from a rope which had been tied to a roof beam. An aluminium step ladder was nearby. He did not enter the garage itself and closed the doors. It was 7.30 pm.
Police and other personnel arrived on the scene at different times. The first to appear was the Coroner’s Officer, PC Brian Jones who assumed the role of investigating officer. He was shown the two letters written by Paula. At this stage, Eddie did not disclose her revelation that she’d had an affair with another man. With the assistance of PC Tosney, the Coroner’s Officer took it upon himself to cut the rope holding Paula’s corpse above the knot and laid her on the floor with the ligature still attached. No photograph was taken of her body as it had first been found nor of the rope itself. When the SOCO appeared at 20.20 pm, he was told by PC Jones there was no need for photographs as the Wirral Coroner did not require them. Two CID officers, Det. Sgt. Webster and DCI Leeman arrived at the house. They were informed by the Coroner’s Officer ‘there’s nothing for you’ (i.e. he’d already concluded that Paula’s death was a suicide).
The next person to arrive was the Police Surgeon, Dr Roberts. Despite a lengthy examination, he failed to take Paula’s body temperature (which might have helped establish the time of death). He took a few photographs for his own training purposes of her body as it lay on the floor of the garage. These photographs show that the ligature around her neck was so tight as to be invisible. There was a pile of builders’ sand outside the garage doors. The SOCO commented that a number of personnel entering and leaving the garage had trampled in the sand. This destroyed the possibility that any relevant footprint evidence could be obtained.
Suicide Letter Envelope addressed to Eddie
The Suicide Letter - Page 1 of 2.
The Suicide Letter - Page 2 of 2.
A more senior CID officer, Det. Insp. Fitzsimmons came to the house shortly after Dr Roberts left the scene. DS Webster mistakenly believed the SOCO had dealt with the scene and that photographs had been taken. He informed DI Fitzsimmons to this effect. The Coroner’s Officer undid the remaining rope attached to the beam and put it in his pocket. After DI Fitzsimmons had examined the body and read Paula’s letters, she was removed to the mortuary at a nearby hospital. The ligature was still attached to her neck. A post-mortem examination of Paula’s body was carried out the next day. No suspicious features were identified. There were no signs of any struggle. Nor had Paula been restrained in any way. No drugs or alcohol were found in her system. The Coroner’s Officer who would normally have been at the post mortem was not there due to receiving hospital treatment for severe migraine. In his absence, the mortuary attendant incinerated the rope which had been around her neck thus precluding any subsequent examination.