Robin Garbutt writes an Open Letter to the Chair of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC)
Diana (Di) and Robbin Garbutt
Dear Helen Pitcher,
13 years ago on the 23rd of March 2010 I was robbed at gunpoint, seconds later I found my poor wife who had sustained a terrible, horrific attack that had left her lifeless. A horror scene that will live with me forever. Instead of counselling, therapy treatments and a time with my family to grieve, I am given a 20 year life sentence, 11 of them spent in a Maximum Security Category A establishment.
The constant worry of Di`s last few minutes on this Earth and the weight of guilt I feel in having let Di down by not bringing those who murdered her to justice, is a hard and heavy burden to bear.
As you are well aware, I have fought this terrible miscarriage of justice from day one. I truly believe I have done everything that would satisfy the Court of Appeal to quash this conviction.
The case put to the jury was that of circumstantial evidence. I remember my trial legal team saying to me:
“No one can get convicted when the murder weapon has none of your DNA on it, Police have lost a clump of hair found next to Di, a reliable witness says Di was alive at 0645 and you have an alibi from 0430 where witnesses put you in the shop until the body is found.”
To counter this, the prosecution find a `Botanist` to give `Time of Death` evidence on the stomach contents. She concluded that Di must have died prior to 0430 and, thus, I must have killed her.
They, then, engage with the Post Office to give evidence against me. I cannot tell you how that feels when Di and I had turned around the business, working so hard together for the Village and the Post Office. If the Post Office had not lied at trial by withholding vital evidence, I would have been able to defend myself, in fact they would not have been able to pursue any of their arguments.
It was the withholding (non-disclosure) of Post Office figures got me to the Court of Appeal, unfortunately we did not know of the `Horizon Scandal` and the Court of Appeal concluded we needed more and highlighted `Time of Death` as a concern for them.
In 2012 ,I engaged with Mr Bob Woffinden, a lovely man who championed miscarriages of justice, he helped me obtain a good lawyer and QC to compile an application to the CCRC.
In the 3 applications we submitted, Experts concluded that the `Time of Death` evidence is incorrect and that the Prosecution Expert gave contradictory evidence in another case months after mine. DNA experts put a Policeman's DNA on the murder weapon and at the scene of the murder when his evidence is that he was never in the building. The Police accuse me of placing the murder weapon `in the dead of night` on the top of a wall (before I opened our shop at 0430), this was impossible and we now have TV footage clearly showing that there is no murder weapon on the wall on the 24th of March, the day after the murder and the day before it is found by Police. And, of course, we know that the Court of Appeal have now overturned numerous Sub Postmaster convictions, the Horizon Scandal dominating and headlining news reports and newspapers.
In fact, we point out that at least one of the Post Office witnesses in my case has been involved in at least 3 of those now quashed miscarriages of justice. In a case that is reliant of Circumstantial evidence, a case that had a 10-2 majority, the CCRC concludes to my applications as follows:
'If we remove the Time of Death expert it would have no effect of the safety of the conviction.`
With regard to the DNA evidence of the Policeman you say: `Cross contaminations can happen in these types of cases`! Surely, cross contamination from the murder weapon onto an exhibit at the murder scene is a gross abuse of process?
`If we remove the murder weapons location in totality, it would have no effect on the safety of this conviction.`
`The Horizon system has no bearing on this case and if we remove both the Post Office experts in your case, it would not affect the safety of the conviction.`
Ms Pitcher, please help me understand that if you remove all of the above, which you clearly have in your Statement of Reasons, what is left of the case against me that would convince a jury to convict?
In fact, what is the evidence that the Police could forward to the CPS in order to go to trial?
What effect would the removal of all 4 aspects of the case have on the trial jury, a jury that already had doubt in the 10-2 majority?
Surely, anybody reading the above would conclude that clearly something is amiss in this case, highlighted by the media interest with numerous articles in Private Eye and recently a centre spread in the Saturday Express.
By failing to progress my case to the Court of Appeal you are failing myself, my poor wife and the safety of others as there is a murderer at large.
And, whilst I am detained in prison, that will not change.
I ask you to do the right thing. Put my case forward to the Court of Appeal, from there I will get my justice and in doing so we will be able to pursue those who committed this vile crime on my Di, and we will all get what we all must strive for, and that is justice.