New evidence in this case means the CCRC should refer it to the court of appeal as soon as possible
"This was a deliberate act by Merseyside Police to frame me." So said Eddie Gilfoyle on BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House podcast at the weekend. He was convicted in 1992 of the murder of his wife Paula.
Gilfoyle's case is one of a relatively small number of alleged miscarriages of justice that nag away at the fringes of the national consciousness. Until, that is, something happens. And now there is the appearance of a "locked metal box".
The prosecution argument was that expectant mothers don't kill themselves. On June 4, 1992 Paula Gilfoyle, aged 32 and eight and a half months pregnant, was found hanging from a beam in the garage of the couple's home in Upton on the Wirral in Merseyside.
The jury believed that Gilfoyle, a hospital orderly, stage-managed the "suicide" after having duped her into writing a suicide note, persuaded her to put a noose around her neck, and then kicked away the chair.
Gilfoyle served 18 years in prison and was released in December 2010. He and his family always protested his innocence and have been supported by a growing band of campaigners. On his release, he was subjected to a gagging order imposed by the parole board preventing him from talking to the press. This time last year the gagging order was lifted.
So what's in the box? According to a Times investigation, it contains "a diary and personal papers which revealed a previous suicide attempts and traumatic past". The evidence, held by the police but undisclosed for some 16 years, paints a very different picture of Paula from the happy-go-lucky, bubbly personality presented to the jury. Apparently, the box's contents reveal that she took an overdose at the age of 15; had two ex-boyfriends who threatened to kill themselves; and continued a relationship with a previous boyfriend convicted of killing a girl while he was serving life.
Merseyside police, or Lancashire police who reviewed the investigation in 1994, have some serious explaining to do. Not just to Gilfoyle, but to Paula's family. Alison Halford, the former assistant chief constable of Merseyside which investigated the case, has described the non-disclosure as "wicked". Halford described the case in 2008 as "a huge miscarriage of justice" and shortly before Professor David Canter, a pioneer of criminal profiling, said he had changed sides and believed the conviction was unsafe.
I spoke to Gilfoyle on Thursday night.
"Wicked? It is actually evil. It is not just me who has suffered but my whole family. The kids who've grown up going to school knowing that uncle Eddie has been locked up for something that he hasn't done. They have been taunted at school. It's damage that that cant be undone."
Unsurprisingly Gilfoyle wants his case back before the appeal judges ? they have looked at his case twice ? immediately. "I'm not requesting them, I'm demanding. It took them 11 months to take my life away - 20 years of my life ? so give me my life back in the same time-span it took to take it away."
These cases "'always come good in the end", wrote David Jessel, the investigative journalist who spent 10 years as a commissioner with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). Jessel reckons that the CCRC could refer this case '"in a matter of days" as it did in 2009 with the Sean Hodgson case.
A CCRC spokesman says that they are "actively investigating" the Gilfoyle case including written submissions from the defence team relating to the locked box last August. "Non-disclosure, the resulting unfairness and the inevitable unsafety of the conviction - plus the abandonment of expert evidence - ought to make this a bit of a no-brainer," says Jessel. "Those at liberty tend to move down the CCRC queue but in this of all cases the CCRC could show some flexibility".
A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: "Merseyside Police can confirm that the force handed over a significant amount of material from the investigation to Mr Gilfoyle's legal representatives in August 2010. It would be inappropriate to comment on this case further as it is currently under review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission."
This revelation in the Gilfoyle case demands immediate action. You can sign a petition calling on the Ministry of Justice to find out why Merseyside Police withheld diaries of Paula Gilfoyle from the defence for 16 years.
Jon Robins is editor of a collection of essays Wrongly accused? Who is responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice, out at the end of the month on thejusticegap.com