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Convicted wife killer Gilfoyle freed

Media silence imposed on ex-Falklands veteran 18 years after Wirral hanging case

Published on December 27th 2010.


Convicted wife killer Gilfoyle freed

A WIRRAL man convicted of murdering his pregnant wife has been cleared for release from prison after 18 years – on condition he never speaks publicly about the case.

Eddie Gilfoyle, 49, was freed from Sudbury open prison in Derbyshire on Wednesday with the proviso that he did not directly or indirectly contact the media.

Gilfoyle's wife Paula, 32, was found hanged in the garage of their home in Upton in 1992. It was claimed by the prosecution that he had duped her into writing a fake suicide note before tying a noose round her neck.

Gilfoyle, who has had two appeals against his conviction rejected, has always denied murder, insisting his wife took her own life.

During the trial in 1992, David Canter, a psychiatrist, testified that it was highly unlikely a heavily pregnant woman would hang herself.

In 2008, the now psychology professor at Liverpool University, told the Sunday Times he had changed his mind: “Eddie and Paula had been on different shifts so left a dozen or more crucial notes for each other. When I read these through in sequence a very clear narrative emerged. This showed Paula’s disquiet about her pregnancy and relationship to Eddie for which the suicide note was a natural ending.”

He concluded: "I formed the view that my original analysis had been too greatly, if inadvertently, influenced by the story that the police had originally given to me."

The prosecution had said the Falklands veteran had persuaded his wife to climb a ladder in their garage with a noose around her neck. The rope later went missing and was never tested for DNA.

During Gilfoyle's second, unsuccessful, appeal in 2000, his solicitor Michael Mansfield told the judges crucial evidence in the case was destroyed or not kept. It was one of the features that had "bedevilled" the case, he said.

Two years ago, a former police officer, Alison Halford, 67, who was assistant chief constable of Merseyside Police at the time, said that in meeting Gilfoyle's family, "I recognised a genuine belief that Gilfoyle was the victim of a huge miscarriage of justice".

A statement released on Gilfoyle's behalf through a campaign group protesting his innocence suggested his legal team would be appealing against the gagging condition, which reportedly includes his family, supporters and lawyers. Conservative peer Lord Hunt of Wirral, who was Gilfoyle's former constituency MP, was also included in the media ban.

It said: "We are not able to provide a response because the Parole Board has imposed a condition on Eddie's life licence that prohibits him contacting the media either directly or indirectly whether this is regarding his release or his appeal."

A spokesman for the Parole Board said: "Any prisoner who is released is released if we reach a judgment that he is safe to release and that he is not going to go on to commit another offence. It is sometimes the case that one of the licence conditions is that the prisoner being released doesn't get involved with the media. If that is the case, the only reason for that condition would be to prevent further offending.

"For instance, it might be the case that if a high-profile prisoner talks to the media after he has been released, there would be issues concerning the feelings of the victims. There might be concerns about the reaction of the general public to someone who has been released from a life sentence."

Last night, the victim's family described their “shock” at the decision.

Older sister Margaret Glover, of Leasowe, said: “As far as I’m concerned, he’s 100 per cent guilty and he’ll always be guilty.

“We have suffered anguish over this and now we’re going to have go through it all again just before Christmas.”

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