7. The 1995 Appeal
Eddie’s appeal against conviction commenced in September 1995 before Lord Justice Beldam, Mr Justice Scott Baker and Mr Justice Hidden. Eddie was represented by Michael Mansfield QC. The prospects of a successful outcome to the appeal were considerably hampered by a number of rulings delivered by the Court:
Professor Bernard Knight
The Court rejected an application to receive evidence from Professor Bernard Knight an internationally-renowned pathologist.
Professor Knight provided an opinion to the defence prior to Eddie’s trial which comprehensively refuted the prosecution case.
His report concluded:
""my overall feeling about Paula Gilfoyle is that though there are curious aspects, this undoubted hanging shows no pathological evidence of anything other than self suspension.""
Professor Knight had attended the trial for one day but was not called by Eddie’s defence team to give evidence. This decision, submitted Michael Mansfield, amounted to a serious error by Eddie’s previous lawyers. At the trial, the jury heard from prosecution pathologist Dr James Burns who carried out the second autopsy on Paula. He had claimed that two tiny scratches on her neck indicated an attempt to remove the rope from around her neck. At the trial, he said an easy way to kill someone would be suddenly to drop a noose over their head, grab the legs and hold the person until s/he was dead.
(That are relevant to this chapter)
Under cross-examination, Dr Burns conceded the marks could have been caused by a reflex action of a person committing suicide. Professor Knight’s view was that the tiny marks might have been made in the course of the first post mortem examination (which made no mention of any such scratches). Had his evidence been heard by the jury, it would have gone a long way towards undermining Dr Burns’ somewhat lurid speculation as to the manner of Paula Gilfoyle’s death.
The Court also refused to receive evidence from Dr Robert Hardcastle a handwriting expert. At trial, Mrs Melarangi said she went back to the house around 5.30 p.m. She said Eddie was outside the house and signed for a parcel. She produced her manifest for that day which showed a signature in the name of “P. Gilfoyle”. Her evidence cast doubt on Eddie’s credibility as he’d said he did not return to Grafton Drive until he came back with his parents later that evening. It was suggested to her that she’d signed the manifest herself. Since the trial, Dr. Hardcastle had looked at further handwriting specimens. His opinion was that the signature on the manifest was more likely to have been written by Mrs Melarangi than by Eddie.
The Court had seen Det. Supt. Gooch’s scathing report (which in edited form had been released to Eddie’s lawyers shortly before the hearing) but they did not hear any submissions based on its contents (including the alleged ‘discovery’ of the ‘practice noose’).
The ‘suicide course’
At trial, the evidence of three of Paula’s friends that Paula had told them of Eddie’s alleged involvement in a suicide course at work was ruled inadmissible. The Court of Appeal ruled that this evidence was admissible as to Paula’s state of mind at the time of her death.
‘statements made by Paula tended to prove that she was not depressed or worried to the point of suicide’.
The Court concluded, however, that it was not:
‘in the interests of justice to require the three witnesses to attend to give evidence’.
This ruling placed the appellant in a ‘Catch 22’ situation. While the friends’ statements did not strictly constitute a reason for the eventual rejection of Eddie’s appeal, the Court was clearly influenced by this evidence and devoted several pages of its eventual judgment to it. The decision that the witnesses need not give evidence meant that Eddie’s lawyers were unable to cross-examine them about anomalies, errors and contradictions in their statements.
This left only the evidence of Maureen Piper. She testified at the appeal about seeing Paula Gilfoyle at Moreton Post Office on the day she died. Despite Mrs Piper having said to a friend:
‘I was only speaking to her yesterday in the post office’,
the Court of Appeal pronounced that she:
‘could have seen Paula the week before’.
The Court dismissed Eddie’s appeal. As he was led back down to the cells, he shouted:
‘I’m still innocent!’.
Soon after the Court’s dismissal, Merseyside Police announced disciplinary action against thirteen officers in the case. Most received ‘advice’ about their conduct.
Formal disciplinary hearings were instituted against three officers of the rank of Det. Superintendent, Det. Chief Inspector and a Det. Constable. Hearings against two of the officers did not take place until May 1998 – five years after complaints had first been made about them.
Action against the most senior officer was withdrawn on his retirement. All charges against the two officers were dismissed. One had been promoted to the rank of Superintendent while awaiting the hearing.