4. Murder Investigation
For several days, Paula’s death was treated by police as suicide. Their view began to change when they were approached by some of Paula’s family and friends. Unable to accept that Paula – regarded as vivacious and outgoing – had taken her own life, they recalled conversations with Paula before her death. Two of Paula’s workmates said she told them Eddie had her writing suicide notes for a work project. Another colleague said Paula told her that Eddie was:
‘was doing a suicide course at work’
and he’d told her to write out a suicide note saying she’d been having an affair, that the baby wasn’t his and:
‘she couldn’t live with it any longer’.
Feelings about Paula’s death ran high among her family and friends. This may have affected the police’s attitude to their inquiries. The level of emotion surrounding the case was exemplified on 17 August 1992 when a carefully constructed noose was thrown at the window of Jessie and Norman Gilfoyle’s home where Eddie had been staying.
Officers investigating Paula’s death rapidly developed ‘tunnel vision’. They pursued the theory that Eddie had pretended to be on a suicide course at work (no such course existed). They postulated that he’d asked Paula to write suicide letters at his dictation and had then coaxed her into participating in a suicide experiment in the garage at their home. His supposed motive for murdering his wife was that he was having an affair with Sandra Davies. Now convinced that Eddie had murdered his wife, they set about securing evidence which fitted their hypothesis. A second post mortem examination was commissioned. This found two small scratch marks on Paula’s neck.
On 8 June 1992, Eddie was arrested and questioned. While he was under arrest, a designated police team – trained for the purpose - conducted an extensive search of his house and garage. In a footstool in the living room, they found a partly-completed suicide letter in Paula’s handwriting. Using a forensic technique called Electro-Static Document Analysis (ESDA) on a notebook used by Paula, it was ascertained she’d drafted yet another suicide note. Interviewed at length, Eddie denied any involvement in his wife’s death or any knowledge of the letter in the footstool. He denied telling anyone he was attending a suicide course and had not dictated letters for Paula to write. He was released without charge.
(That are relevant to this chapter)
The ‘practice rope’
Curiously, police carried out another search of the garage on 23 June 1992. A forensic scientist, Phillip Rydeard was present. He mentioned to officers the possibility of finding evidence which might be useful ‘such as ropes’. Later that day, police said they discovered a rope in a drawer in the garage. It was tied in a slip knot. At Eddie’s subsequent trial, the prosecution alleged he had used this rope as a "practice noose". The garage at Grafton Drive was small, compact and virtually empty. It beggars belief that such a significant item would not have been spotted immediately when officers conducted their previous search of the garage on 8 June. A later Lancashire Police review of the case commented:
""The officer who conducted the search of the garage on the 8th June, PC CARTWRIGHT, is adamant that the rope was not there at the time. He recalls looking in the drawer in which the rope was subsequently found and it was not there.""
Eddie was arrested and interviewed on two further occasions. He was again released without charge. In these interviews, Eddie told police that two days before Paula died she revealed to him that ‘Nigel’ was another named individual. Eddie says he did not provide this information in his previous interview because he’d promised his wife he wouldn’t let her family know of the alleged affair and saw no reason to upset them before her funeral. Merseyside Police sent their file on the investigation to the Crown Prosecution Service. On 7 September 1992, he was arrested and charged with Paula’s murder. He was remanded at Liverpool’s Walton Prison.