Robin Garbutt case: Jane Metcalfe replies to Helen Pitcher's, Chair, CCRC, reply to her Open Letter
Below is Jane Metcalfe's reply to Helen Pitcher's, Chair, CCRC, reply to her Open Letter to her on the 17th May 2022. In it she outlined how all of the evidence against Robin Garbutt for the murder of his wife, Diana Garbutt, has been shown to be unreliable, and highlighted additional evidence that the CCRC could, she said should, pursue in a full investigation of his claim of innocence. Jane's first Open Letter also pleaded with Helen Pitcher to use her powers as head of the CCRC to intervene into the review so that the case could be referred to the Court of Appeal and efforts could be made to bring the real murderers to justice. For reference, click here for Jane's first Open Letter. Helen Pitcher's reply to Jane's first Open Letter is available at the end of this letter. This letter is also open and was posted by recorded delivery to Helen Pitcher at the CCRC on the 21 July 2022.
Helen Pitcher OBE
23 Stephenson Street
20 July 2022
Thank you for your reply to my Open Letter dated the 1 June 2022.
For the sake of clarity, below, I reply to your reply taking each paragraph separately.
My response to Paragraph 1 of your reply to my Open Letter
I appreciate that you took the time out of your busy life to reply to me, I really do, we all do. It was really good of you and I sincerely thank you.
I hope you can read the rest of my reply with the following in mind: We will never stop hammering on, fighting and shouting out about this terrible case of this innocent man, Robin Garbutt!
His innocence is a real thing, it's not something we as friends and family blindly hope or wish for, it's solid and backed up with concrete, hard facts, all substantiated by a vast array of very credible professionals all saying the same thing.
This fight, this battle with the CCRC for Robin, will go on every hour of every day until the CCRC carry out their duty and fulfil the function they were intended for and get him back before the appeal courts.
No one will understand why someone with as much power as a Chair has `cannot effect an on-going review.`
Please indulge me for a few seconds. Imagine a publicly funded aerospace company, that, over many years kept being handed worrying reports of concerns of serious flaws in their system, all backed up by a plethora of damning reports/academic papers/books, even an APPG. The flaws were leading to huge problems, some turning into heart breaking air disasters, but the most disturbing thing was the company just kept turning a blind eye because despite all of the above, it just kept defending its position without, it would seem, any thought for the poor passengers.
When `the general public` become fully aware that these awful things were happening they expect the Chair (and management) to interject, get stuck in, cut through any so-called red tape, rules, protocol, whatever, and just dive in to get to the bottom of what is causing these terrible disasters. Shouldn't the people at the top of the CCRC, those that have huge influence, power, clout and the authority, go down on to the shop floor and investigate something as serious as keeping an INNOCENT person in prison?
If not why not? And if not, WHAT is the purpose of management?!
In the sad and hopeless world of miscarriages of justice, Robin Garbutt`s case is the equivalent of a massive, shocking tragic air disaster, one that is being made far worse because of the CCRC.
The CCRC for years have appeared to continually ignore all the massive warning signals, the flag waving, the disaster flares going up again and again, the books, the documentaries. the poor families of the innocent who are locked away begging and screaming to be heard, to be taken seriously.
Some finally just break, they`re beaten by this great big cold and scary CCRC, too afraid to speak out for fear of making things worse. But what could be worse than being innocent yet locked up for a crime someone else committed?
This isn't why the CCRC came into existence and it's not how we want it to be and I know it can`t be what you want either, Helen. Families and loved one who find themselves in the same boat as Robin have to try to be unafraid and to speak up and out against the way the CCRC treat the innocent and tell the CCRC like I am now THIS IS NOT, EVER, EVER GOING TO GO AWAY, NOT EVER, and at some point I pray the CCRC will really begin to open their hearts and really listen to the cries for help.
My response to Paragraph 2 of your reply to my Open Letter
The sympathy you offer is kind, thank you, but honestly there should be mention in that line for the guy at the very heart of all of this and it makes me wonder has it ever actually crossed your minds that Robin is in fact NOT guilty?
The real `position` is that we have an innocent man in prison who has compelling evidence on his side that fully supports his innocence, but the body set up to help him, the CCRC, have been in some kind of denial over the importance/relevance or existence of this overwhelming truth.
The non-referral of something the World can see yet the CCRC refuse to accept is becoming irrational, nonsensical, that's the real position, Helen. Please remember Robin and his family are the victims of this `position`, not the instigators of it, that responsibility lies with the CJS and the CCRC.
Much has been documented and a great deal has been said about evidence, new, fresh, etc, and how poorly we think the CCRC have behaved in this case, yet your letter says the CCRC are looking at this case `objectively` and `thoroughly?`
I just can`t agree because if you look at things `objectively` you do it `with an open mind, considering the facts`, and if that were actually happening, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
The CCRC are coming across as completely biased, their mind is closed to any possibility that any of this mass of evidence could cause doubt over the conviction, we could call it the `im`possibility test!
And, `thorough` according to the Oxford dictionary means “rigorously/in-depth/exhaustively/from top to bottom.’, which is not what the CCRC are doing with this case.
They have not carried out ANY investigations at all, not one! Nor have they contacted ANY of the many experts/professionals involved who have submitted many reports for the defence. Not carrying out one scrap of investigative work whatsoever, over something of this magnitude is downright immoral and isn't in the same hemisphere as `thorough`. Had they chosen to actually be thorough, there`s an abundant amount to go at.
They could have looked into new evidence about the murder weapon (metal bar). The prosecutor told the jury, Robin, after murdering his wife, had placed the bar on top a 8ft 3 inch wall (a few feet away from the back door of the Post Office) `in the dead of night`. Despite a fingertip search of the area by Police it was not discovered for 2 days. Since trail it has been proven impossible for Robin to have climbed up and placed it where it was found and TV footage from Tyne Tees TV filmed the day after the murder came to light showing the bar is not on the wall. Can I please remind you that the ONLY thing linking the murder weapon to Robin is the prosecutor telling us he placed the bar on the wall. Your case workers could have investigated this but they haven't.
They could also have further investigated the DNA on the murder weapon that belonged to a Police Office, who`s DNA had somehow ALSO gotten onto the pillow case (crime scene) where Diana was killed, despite the fact he never even stepped foot inside that building. Said Officer was on leave on the day of the murder and he couldn`t remember where he was on the day Diana was murder. The cross contamination of the evidence is the only explanation, but the pillow case was tested within days, the murder weapon not for months. They could have investigated this, but they haven't. It's a strange thought but had Robin been out of town that night, maybe it would be that Officer in prison because, unlike Robin, there was actual forensic evidence linking him to the crime, in comparison with NO forensic evidence whatsoever linking Robin.
They could have investigated what happened to the hair (that was clearly not Diana`s or Robin`s) that was on crime scene photographs but the Police lost it. They could have, but they haven't.
They could`ve investigate the BB gun and mask which was found a few miles away shortly after the murder (which to this day has still never been tested for DNA). Robin always maintained the intruder was armed and wore a mask, so was the discovery of the ones found a few short miles away pure coincidence. Or had they actually been dumped by the real intruders.
Or if, like the CCRC we are coming at this from a guilt stance, did Robin dash 13 miles to dump them after he murdered his wife, then strategically place the murder weapon on the wall, all before he opened the shop at 0430... all the while managing to leave NO trace at all of his own DNA on the murder weapon or at the crime scene, but somehow manages to leave the officers DNA and Diana`s DNA on the murder weapon and a mixed DNA sample of 3 unknown males, the Officers DNA and Diana`s at the crime scene.
Why, oh, why have the CCRC not used the `special powers` they keep telling us about to test the ski mask and gun, (that are sitting gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere at NYPD) for DNA? Why has the CCRC with all this wealth of evidence not investigated a scrap of any of it? I`m sure if they did, they would only uncover more and more confirmation of Robin`s innocence, so maybe that speaks volumes.
My response to Paragraph 3 of your reply to my Open Letter
I fully get that Robin`s case is still under review and I totally understand you cannot discuss anything with anyone other than Robin or his legal team. I just wish with all my heart that the CCRC was more transparent, that they met with people, visited with Robin, talked to the scientists who say that he could not have committed this dreadful crime.
To us, the CCRC are shrouded in darkness and it is all cloak and dagger. Why does the CCRC stay distant and aloof instead of getting stuck in and meeting with the people they`re there to help. Who are they really working for? What are they really striving for?
Is it really and truly to help the innocent? Is their biggest fear getting conned/duped by a guilty person so they keep all the innocent locked up too just so not to take any chances?
Or, are they as a very credible investigative journalist described them in 2011 `just a fig leaf, a cover up.`
I do know this much, you are the mountain that is standing in the way of my friend getting back before the appeal judge, the real judge, because as it stands now you are the judge, jury and potential executioner!
My response to Paragraph 4 of your reply to my Open Letter
I understand the 'real possibility test', and I understand it causes major problems. `Possibility` means `A thing that may happen or be true.` The catastrophe is the CCRC clearly has a different view to the rest of us. How can it be the CCRC can `possibly` think this case has ‘not passed it’?!
Robin`s case is loaded with an OVERWHELMING amount of new and fresh evidence to support his innocence, evidence that screams out way above and beyond the infamous `real possibility test.`
Nothing of the case put before the jury by the prosecution remains standing. It has ALL fallen away. So, how can that not give someone the chance, the prospect, the hope of passing a `possible`?
The way that you are dealing with Robin’s applications explains how, if THIS case, with its shed load of solid evidence supporting innocence can't get passed the CCRC why the 98% rejection rate survives. (*not including the Horizon cases/ Shrewsbury 24).
I was slightly puzzled when I read `unless there are exceptional circumstances`, because I specifically refer to `exceptional circumstances` in my letter. I pointed out the fact that Robin ticks 5 of the 7 exceptional circumstances (the remaining 2 were not relevant to Robin`s case) the CCRC spoke about in their presentation at the United Against Injustice conference in 2019.
Here is an extract from a letter I wrote to John Curtis of the CCRC a few days after that conference:
“You`ll remember that in the CCRC presentation, `exceptional circumstances` was the topic. Seven bullet points were shown on the screen, all of which we are told the CCRC use as a template when regarding `exceptional circumstances` in a case. Robin`s case ticks FIVE of them, John. The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I saw this on the screen and listened to what was said, you could have been talking directly about Robin`s case!
1. Scientific advances
3. Discredited experts
4. Police misconduct
5. Witness handling
6. Poor defence
7. Sentencing calculations.
In point no 1 - you talked about how the `time of death` cannot be calculated down to within a couple of hours. This is exactly what the Police expert did! And it was huge in court and so incredibly damaging! Everyone said how convincing Miller was and how she would not be moved from those timings. She clearly appeared to be an excellent prosecution witness and convinced the jury that she knew what she was talking about. No one knew then that her evidence would be discredited for not only contradicting herself at another murder trial but for actually getting the science very wrong. And just to add salt to the wounds, it turned out her expertise was in archaeological digs :,( But by then it was too late….
2 - Vital evidence for the defence (clump of hair) lost by Police/Audit by the Post Office that should have been available exonerating Robin of theft `not available ` at trial.
3 - Main prosecution witness on time of death now discredited.
4 - DNA contaminating evidence/cherry-picking evidence/loss of hair from crime scene that could have harvested DNA/hiding lamps in a wardrobe at the crime scene.
6 - Dreadful original defence. You only realise how bad they are after conviction.
We can now add further to point 3 (of this letter) the now also discredited Post Office who gave evidence accusing Robin of stealing money, which brought about the police coming up with the story that Robin had fabricated the whole armed robbery.
Their data used against Robin was taken from the Horizon software and they couldn't actually come up with any specific fraudulent behaviour, they just said it was something they had seen in many of their fraud cases, they even failed to disclose at trial important records that would have shown (once they were disclosed after trial) there was nothing suspicious in Robin and Diana`s records and that they had recorded that way from the day they took over their Post Office in 2003.
The same fraud investigator who gave evidence against Robin ALSO gave evidence in several of the now quashed Subpostmaster cases. He even told the wife of one of the SPM`s when interviewing her about their missing money, that her husband was leading a double life, probably having an affair and gambling away all the money! Can he be seen as credible or reliable?
And, in point no 4 we could include further information such as Police accepted the reason 3 known criminals (who had previously served sentences for a `hole in the wall` robbery) were in the village very early on the morning of the murder, which was they were pricing a job up.
In addition to this, a criminal who`s name was given to `Crimestoppers` the next day was also rejected by Police saying the named criminal was under their surveillance at the time so it couldn`t have been him. Police have never produced evidence of this so-called surveillance.
My response to Paragraphs 5 and 6 of your reply to my Open Letter
There are so many reasons for referral in this case, new and fresh evidence such as:
The Post Office evidence given against Robin;
TV footage showing no murder weapon;
The huge ramifications of the removal of evidence given by the stomach contents expert who was the only one who was adamant that Diana was murdered before Robin opened the shop at 0430 am!
This and more, all new, all fresh.
You say the issues of what and how to investigate, and who you interview, are up to the CCRC. Okay, but Helen they aren`t investigating anything whatsoever in this case?!
Of all the immense things they could have investigated here, they have done absolutely nothing, other than an office bound (or probably all working from home now) read through, they have not visited Robin nor sat down with his legal team, or bothered to contact anyone!
And, I don't think this case is unusual, I know of too many other cases, one was with you for 7 years, and not one of the experts supporting the defendant were contacted. You say the same applies for interviewing `anyone`, it is a fact that the CCRC do not carry out visits to anyone!
Glyn Maddocks and Gabe Tan were writing years ago about the fact the CCRC were not visiting prisoners, so nothing has changed, it is still the same, no matter which way you want to turn it, the CCRC are failing the innocent!
I need to bring to your attention the 4 page pull out in the `Inside Times` advertising the CCRC. Have you seen it? Helen, when I see what Robin is having to endure as a direct consequence of his treatment by the CCRC, this `marketing` is an absolute insult.
I'm disappointed that they felt it was okay to include one of the worst cases in our shocking judicial history, Sally Clark as a CCRC successes. It tells us the CCRC referred the application based on `new medical evidence` given by a discredited expert.
How can it be then that the main `time of death` expert, Miller, who`s evidence was so damning in Robin's case is made so little of, when she was the only one who was adamant Diana had been killed before Robin opened the shop at 0430. Miller's evidence has been discredited and replaced with many more qualified scientists who say Diana was not killed before the shop opened and could STILL have been alive shortly before she was discovered at 0830. Why are the CCRC now not reintroducing the reliable witness who heard Diana call from the back of the shop at 0645.
Robin could not have committed this crime after the shop was opened, he has a full alibi from 0430 and every single person who saw him that morning agreed he was his usually happy self, so unless there is evidence to say Diana had died before 0430( and there isn`t any), then, all of the other evidence confirms she had not, and, therefore the defence case stands, NOT the prosecution case!
And, if the CCRC continue to reject this application they must, have to fully explain to us HOW he managed to do it without leaving a trace.
I have learned it is not hard to create a wrongful conviction, in fact it is way, way too easy. But, it is the system supposedly set up to help those innocent folk, the CCRC, that is the cruellest part of all. Robin and his legal team has fought tooth and nail and succeeded in uncovering so much evidence to demonstrate how innocent he is and he believed the CCRC were there to help him get back to where he needs to be, the Court of Appeal and who can blame him? (Just read the 4 page pull out in `Inside Time`!)
We can read in the CCRC `Who we are` that `We were set up to LOOK at criminal cases where people believe they have been wrongly convicted…If we do find something wrong with the conviction or sentence, we CAN (Note, it does not say WILL) send it back to the Court of Appeal. To launch a fresh appeal, we need something important (He's ticked that) like strong new evidence (He's ticked that) or an argument that makes the case look different now”.(TICKTICKTICKTICK). Robin fits this criteria 100% and the case at trial bears NO resemblance to the truth uncovered and the new and fresh evidence that has emerged, it could NOT look more `different now` Helen!
What's the point of all the CCRC marketing and advertising and the `Who we are` if at the end of the day you do none of what is promised? I`d go further, not only that, but you actually make things far, far worse. You are a public body spending our money on what?
You recently advertised a job entitled “Head of External Affairs and Communications”, home based even, and the salary was an eye watering £75,000! How on earth can you justify that when it is a fact you are leaving innocent people in prison? I`m not sure where you are from, but we in Yorkshire take pride in getting the best value for money, so as a hard working taxpayer I/ we are not getting any value with a less than 1% chance of overturning a wrongful conviction with the `taxpayers CCRC` are we?
The shocking reality is that the CCRC does not carry through the things it would have us believe it does, but instead it gathers all the information the Robin`s of this world have painstakingly gathered, pooh poohs it, turns its back on it and tries to justify doing so with the flimsiest reasons and does it`s very best to extinguish all hope, all reason!
Robin has been locked away an innocent man for 12 years, he lost his freedom, his liberty, his home and the chance to re-build his life after the shocking murder of his beloved wife, Diana. All for a crime someone else committed and maybe the reason you `can`t/won`t feel sympathy for Robin is because the CCRC don`t come at any of this from a potential position that he could be innocent, they don`t even sit on the fence they jump right down to be on the side of guilt.
Has anyone at the CCRC contemplated that the real murderers are actually at wrongful liberty and that all this time fighting to keep Robin in prison, they, the real criminals, could well have gone on and committed further robberies/murders. The victims of wrongful convictions and their families are so afraid to speak out, they`re scared to in case it gives the CCRC reason to shut them down.
Knowing people are scared, and they are, should deeply trouble the CCRC shouldn`t it? I know good people who are fighting with them and who have become literally broken by the CCRC. It's not that they've given up but that they just can't put themselves or family through it anymore. How tragic is that? Broken by the very people who should be helping them. What a betrayal!
I hope before your final decision is reached you remember the major, major fact that this case against Robin was only EVER circumstantial, there was never any fingerprints/ DNA/ Blood/ Motive or time for him to have carried out this shocking crime.
Helen, please may I point out again to you that both of the planks of the case against Robin THEFT and time of death (TOD) have fallen away and with it the so-called experts who gave evidence against Robin at trial.
Extract from an article written in the Guardian dated Tuesday 19th April, 2011 headlined `Husband guilty of murdering postmistress wife` and in it we read “Garbutt feared his theft of thousands of pounds was about to be discovered…how Garbutt hid the weapon across the road, then opened the shop as normal and served about 60 customers before closing again. He then dialled 999 and claimed his wife had been attacked, crying hysterically…how he told detectives that a raider had robbed him and he had gone upstairs to find his wife motionless…how the Judge believed the murder was motivated by Garbutt`s fear of being exposed for stealing from the Post Office…crucial evidence came from a dinner of fish and chips the couple had eaten on the night before she died. An expert told the jury Diana stopped processing the meal around 6-8 hours after she had finished eating it- giving a likely time of death in the early hours (0230-0430) rather than when Garbutt claimed the robber had struck…”
Does this not highlight the power of those 2 things, theft and time of death…by taking them both away, there is no case to answer.
I wish I could have condensed this down to a few sentences rather than several long pages, but Helen, we need your help right now, and I wanted to lay out all of the evidence that proves that Robin is innocent again for you to see.
I`m begging you and your CCRC to open your eyes to what is going on here and contribute to justice rather than compound an injustice.
Please visit Robin and meet with us so that we may work together to overturn this dreadful wrongful conviction and, possibly, even identify the real perpetrators of the murder of Diana.
Please let us know if there is anything at all that we can do to assist further.