8. 2000 Appeal
Fresh evidence supporting Eddie’s innocence was examined by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
This included material in a Channel 4 Trial and Error programme broadcast in June 1996.
In March 1999, the CCRC announced Eddie’s conviction would be referred back to the Court of Appeal.
His second appeal commenced before Lord Justice Rose, Mrs Justice Hallett and Mr Justice Crane in December 2000.
The grounds of appeal mostly comprised fresh expert evidence.
Professor Jack Crane, Northern Ireland State Pathologist had prepared a report for the CCRC. Unlike Dr Burns who appeared for the prosecution at Eddie’s trial, Professor Crane had seen scratch marks in cases of suicide. He said he would expect more severe or extensive marks in a case of homicide. He also had personal knowledge of a pregnant woman killing herself.
Roger Ide a forensic scientist with 30 years’ experience in knots and ligatures also prepared a report for the CCRC. His conclusion was that Paula could not have been standing on the floor when the noose was put round her neck. She would have had to be standing on the ladder.
This rendered the hypothesis advanced by the prosecution that Eddie had persuaded her to place the noose around her neck and then grabbed her legs even more unlikely.
The Court refused to receive evidence from two other expert witnesses:
(That are relevant to this chapter)
Dr John Weir a consultant psychiatrist was one of the few experts who had ever made a study of suicides in pregnancy. Dr Weir had reported to the CCRC his opinion that Paula:
‘was phobic about labour’
quoting four occasions when she expressed her apprehension about the birth. The Court refused to receive his evidence because in their view there was nothing:
‘to substantiate his diagnosis in relation to someone whom he had not seen’.
Professor David Canter an eminent psychologist had originally been ready to testify for the prosecution at Eddie’s trial. His evidence was ruled inadmissible. In 1993, his opinion – based on limited material provided by Merseyside Police - was that Paula had not killed herself.
The CCRC and Eddie’s lawyer supplied him with further documentary evidence which he’d not previously been shown. This led him to reverse his former view. His new report concluded that the circumstances of Paula’s death pointed strongly to suicide. As in 1995, the Court of Appeal refused to hear Professor Canter’s evidence.
The Court said it would not hear submissions arising from the Lancashire Police inquiry into Merseyside Police’s investigation because this report had been available to the previous appeal hearing. The catalogue of police failings and misconduct uncovered by Det. Supt. Gooch has consequently never been considered by any court.
The Crown accepted many of the conclusions reached by the experts called for the appellant. As a result, some Crown experts who had been asked to attend were not called to give evidence. Faced with strong evidence that Paula was not standing on the ground when the noose was placed around her neck, the Crown posed an alternative hypothesis that she’d been sitting on the step ladder and then was pushed forward. Professor Knight stated this scenario was even more implausible. It was, in any event, a completely different method from the one suggested by Dr Burns at the 1993 trial when Eddie was convicted.
Michael Mansfield QC challenged Mrs Melarangi’s claim that she’d seen Eddie Gilfoyle outside his home around 5.30 pm on the day Paula died. She said she’d delivered a parcel for which he signed. The schedule from the catalogue company showed no such parcel to be delivered at that time. Handwriting analysis indicated the signature in Paula’s name on the delivery manifest was more likely to be have been written by Mrs Melarangi. She admitted she’d previously delivered a parcel and added Paula’s ‘signature’ later because she didn’t have the delivery manifest with her. At trial, two relevant manifests were not produced by Merseyside Police. This meant her sequence of deliveries (and hence the plausibility of her account) could not properly be examined.
A work colleague of Paula’s, Mr Owen approached police a full month after her death. He claimed he saw Eddie going into a shop in Upton at about 5.50 pm on 4 June 1992. There were many problems with Mr Owen’s account. His statement had Eddie arriving at the shop from the wrong direction if he’d been coming from his home. Mr Owen had a strong prior antipathy towards Eddie referring to him as a ‘bastard’ in his written statement. Merseyside Police made no attempt to corroborate his alleged sighting by, for example, making proper enquiries with staff in the shops.
A Grafton Drive neighbour, Mrs Jones was interviewed by police. She said she’d seen Eddie in the drive of his house at about 5.30 pm that day. Elsewhere in her statement she provided times for various arrivals and departures of police and others at the house. Comparison with police records indicate that while Mrs Jones was undoubtedly an honest witness, her timings were open to question.
Despite serious contradictions in the accounts of the above witnesses, the Court of Appeal pronounced that Eddie:
‘clearly lied about his movements on the afternoon of 4th June’.
The prosecution case, said the Court of Appeal, was that he lied to:
‘avoid having to explain why he had not sought help or begun enquiries before he did’.
The Court was presented with overwhelming evidence which conclusively undermined the prosecution case as to how Paula died. In its judgment, the Court stated:
‘the cause of death, now as at trial, depends on the non−pathological evidence’.
Despite days having been devoted at Eddie’s trial to the issue, the Court pronounced:
'it is immaterial precisely how he killed her’.
The only other ‘non-pathological evidence’ outlined by the Court related to Paula’s alleged state of mind before her death.
Seventeen witnesses described her as being, in the spring of 1992, happy and looking forward to the birth of the child, despite misgivings about the birth itself. Her GP, who saw her regularly and last saw her a week before her death, and her gynaecologist, both described her as fit and positive about the birth. She had no history of depression.
Eddie’s second appeal against conviction was dismissed.