‘My brother, Eddie Gilfoyle has just spent 18 years in prison for something he didn’t do. 18 years is a long time in prison if you are guilty. If you are innocent like Eddie it is an eternity.’ Susan Caddick on her brother Eddie Gilfoyle.
This is an edited version of Susan Caddick’s talking about her brother Eddie Gilfoyle’s campaign to overturn his conviction. She made the speech at the Innocence Network UK’s symposium calling for reform of the Criminal Cases Review Commission last month. You can watch Susan HERE.
‘They always come good in the end, these miscarriages of justice, and – inch by excruciating inch – the case of Eddie Gilfoyle is nearing the point where the Criminal Cases Review Commission would look foolish not to refer it, and the Court of Appeal mutton-headed not to quash the conviction.’
18 Years. Close your eyes and try and imagine just how long 18 years really is. My brother, Eddie Gilfoyle has just spent 18 years in prison for something he didn’t do. 18 years is a long time in prison if you are guilty. If you are innocent like Eddie it is an eternity. The damage done to Eddie and to my family is irreparable.
On Thursday the June 4th 1992, Paula Gilfoyle, Eddie’s wife was found hanged in the garage of their home, two weeks before their first baby was due to be born. Paula left a handwritten suicide note at the scene. Our nightmare began.
On a mission
Eddie is from a law-abiding family. He has never been in trouble with the police. He was arrested three times accused of murdering his wife. No account was made of the fact that this was a man in a deep state of shock and grief. No respect afforded him.
He was interviewed for hours on end. He was shouted at, screamed at and bullied. The police pulled all sorts of dirty tricks – 84 times they called Eddie a liar and a fantasist. Eddie did not lie. Eddie told the truth. But, the police were not interested. They were on a mission to get a conviction.
Over the past 20 years we have fought very hard and dragged the truth into the light and it is very clear today that it was not Eddie Gilfoyle who told the lies. The facts show that this was a tragic suicide, which means, the police had to invent a case and spin a fantasy together which they put to the jury. So who really is the fantasist? Who is the Walter Mitty? Who is the liar? It is not Eddie Gilfoyle.
Eddie served in the British Army. He served in Germany and saw active service in Northern Ireland and the Falklands War. The police ridiculed his army service both in private and in public, in court and in the media. I am deeply ashamed at how my country has treated this man, a war veteran and so should you be, because this was done for you, in your name. We allowed this to happen and it is high time we forced the authorities to right the wrong that has been done to this lovely man.
A miscarriage of justice doesn’t just happen on its own. In Eddie’s case, as in may others, it started with the police. Errors made by the police on the night Paula died led to crucial evidence being destroyed or thrown away by the police and led to Eddie having an unfair trial. So catastrophic were the mistakes made by the police at the scene on the night and at the post mortem that the police themselves ordered a secret investigation into what went wrong which they kept hidden.
By taking Eddie to trial and accusing him of such a horrible crime all eyes, all attention, was focused on what they accused Eddie of doing, not on what the police had done wrong.
No one was interested in the catastrophic police mistakes. No one demanded the Chief Constable’s resignation for the appalling negligence and incompetence of his police force. No one questioned what went wrong or how on earth Eddie Gilfoyle could ever possibly get a fair trial when the police had completely destroyed all the evidence. None of this mattered. All the focus was switched onto Eddie.
We were naïve
Eddie’s trial was a sham. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. There was a complete failure to disclose evidence that could have helped Eddie. A defence team that I think completely failed him and a jury that was deceived. They were told a completely dishonest version of what had had happened. It is this dishonesty, serious non0disclosure and covering up from the top to the bottom of the system that prevents Eddie from getting justice today.
After the trial my family made over 100 complaints against Merseyside Police. Lancashire Police reinvestigated the case. They uncovered a whole load of dishonesty and corruption.
In 1994 Lancashire concluded their reinvestigation. Lancashire said there was no evidence of a crime. Paula Gilfoyle committed suicide. A year after Lancashire concluded their investigation Eddie went to the court of appeal with all of the new evidence Lancashire had uncovered.
How naïve we were back in 1995? We honestly thought that the Court of Appeal would see the dreadful mistake that had been made and that they would put right this mistake. After all, we had an independent police investigation saying there was no evidence of a crime. What else could anyone possibly need? Did the appeal court listen to anything the Lancashire inquiry uncovered, did they heck.
The Appeal court judge said that because the Chief Constable of Merseyside had not yet agreed to the disciplinary charges recommended against his officers the Lancashire inquiry was not yet concluded. The appeal court said they could not hear any of the evidence uncovered by Lancashire because it was considered to be an ongoing inquiry, even though the Lancashire inquiry concluded the year before. The Chief Constable of Merseyside stopped Eddie using the Lancashire investigation in Eddie’s first appeal, because he would not agree disciplinary charges before the appeal. He did eventually agree the charges. He agreed them the very next day after the judges threw out Eddie’s appeal. Then he found all of his officers not guilty. What blatant dishonesty.
But it gets worse than that. It was the newly formed Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) that sent Eddie’s case back for a second appeal in 2000. The CCRC included all of the new evidence uncovered by the Lancashire inquiry. Because quite rightly, the CCRC concluded it had never been heard. What makes me really angry is what the appeal court done at Eddie’s second appeal.
This time the appeal court said that we should have used it at the first appeal, as it was available then, so they would not hear it now because it was no longer new evidence. The appeal court prevented Eddie from using evidence uncovered by the Lancashire inquiry so Eddie lost that appeal as well.
A whole load of new evidence was passed around the system to prevent Eddie from using it. Even though it has never been heard in any court, it is now lost to Eddie forever. How disgraceful is that? How can that ever be right?
Not only did the appeal court refuse the new evidence in the Lancashire inquiry, the appeal court did not care about all the other evidence presented to them by the CCRC. They threw most of it out. So what is the point. What is going wrong between the CCRC and the court of appeal.
I get the feeling that the Court of Appeal hates being told by the CCRC that there has been a miscarriage of justice, that the justice system got it wrong. The appeal court judges sit high up on that bench of theirs and look down their noses at the likes of Eddie trying to get justice. They would rather stick pins in their eyes than admit the jury got it wrong, and yet we are all so trusting of this system.
The Court of Appeal will only allow evidence that is brand new. New evidence. Something your defence could not possibly have known or found out at your trial. Even if you are lucky enough to find some brand new evidence, the Court of Appeal don’t look at how it fits into your case, next to all the other evidence that proves your innocence. No, it doesn’t work like that. They look at the new evidence all on it own, in isolation, where it makes no sense to anyone, then they throw your case out.
The Court of Appeal has set the bar so high that it virtually impossible to overturn a conviction brought in by a jury. Of course, the CCRC know this and that is their problem.
Over the years the CCRC have gone from a body that was set up to try and get to the truth, to a body that tries to get a case that will win according to the rules at the Court of Appeal.
Let’s be really honest, how can someone sitting in a prison cell possibly hope to find new evidence? You can’t just write to the CCRC and say: ‘I am innocent.’ You need to find a solicitor who will work for free, sometimes for years, going through boxes and boxes of evidence, looking for new evidence.
The CCRC dupe the public to say that they investigate miscarriages of justice. They do not. They just review what your solicitor has put together. Well, the solicitor could have done that and we could miss out the CCRC altogether.
Are the CCRC under-resourced? Yes, they are. Are they understaffed? No doubt. But it is not just being under-resourced or the high bar they have to jump to get back to the Court of Appeal that is the problem with the CCRC. A major problem they have is if the police or the CPS are hiding evidence.
If the police want to hide evidence from the CCRC, they will. In Eddie’s case the Merseyside Police hid a box of evidence for at least 16 years. It contained Paula’s five-year diaries where she records an earlier suicide attempt when she was in her teens, as well as letters she kept.
It wasn’t the CCRC who discovered this box of crucial evidence, it was Eddie’s solicitor. Even then it was more of a fluke that the police revealed it. It had nothing to do with an attack of honesty by the police.
It is not the CCRC that fights to get justice for innocent people. It is families, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters. Families know the system doesn’t work fairly. It is families who fight for justice. Families know that justice becomes a game of who wins and who loses. Not a search for the truth as they pretend it is.
Paralysed and ineffectual
The burden to get justice should not be placed on the shoulders of families or on the shoulders of dedicated unpaid solicitors. That burden should fall on the CCRC. But I am afraid that the CCRC is paralysed and ineffectual because of the impossibly high bar set by the court of appeal, the impossible task of making the prosecution disclose evidence that the CCRC doesn’t know even exists and because it is under resourced.
Over the past 20 years we have had to drag the truth out of Merseyside Police and Merseyside CPS. Today, the Crown’s case is in shreds. There is nothing left of their case that they put before the jury.
Eddie’s case is now back before the CCRC for the third time. I want the CCRC to refer Eddie’s case back to the court of appeal and for them to overturn Eddie’s conviction.
I want them to lift the weight off Eddie’s shoulders and give him his life back. I want justice for Eddie.