Why I do not think Robin Garbutt murdered his wife and my friend, Diana Garbutt
Robin and Diana Garbutt
In this article, Barry Conachy questions the police investigation into the murder of his friend, Diana Garbutt, and makes a heartfelt plea to the CCRC to conduct a thorough review of Robin Garbutt's claim of factual innocence. Barry states that he was a good friend to both Robin and Diana and that he still classes himself as a friend of Robin's. He is adamant, though, that he could not remain a supporter or friend of someone who had committed such a crime.
I had just had my first night in accommodation as part of a new job which required me to spend an induction week with my new employers in Lincolnshire. I received what I would call the obligatory text “Morning campers, how’s it going?” at 06:20 on 23 March 2022.
This was totally normal behaviour for Robin Garbutt as he had proved on numerous previous occasions. I would suggest this is not normal behaviour for a humble shop keeper that had just murdered or was planning to murder his wife in next couple of hours.
It was a very long week, which I had to cut short, due to the fact that my friend, Diana Garbutt, had been murdered. I assisted the investigation by providing a recorded police interview. The interview appeared to have a sole focus on Robin’s circumstances and particularly on his financial affairs. They police did not appear to give credence when I explained how I saw Robin in such a terrible emotional state when the shop had been robbed previously in 2009, when no arrests were made. Did the fact that the Claudia Lawrence case was investigated by the same force one year previous and no arrest was made place excess pressure to make an arrest to save face?
The focus on Robin and the post office money was, in hindsight, the Police focus. One example is the claimed sighting of Robin crossing the village green the previous night to the murder with a black bag under his arm. It was presumed at trial that the witness was correct and that Robin was stashing the cash. Every inch of the Church was meticulously searched with sniffer dogs tracking his footsteps. I can’t understand how the police did not discover that this was a man (who did look incredibly like Robin) carrying his pug dog under his arm to avoid confrontation with the witness and their Alsatian. This was discovered by locals some months later. This may have countered the Police theory perhaps.
The Police desperately tried to start rumours of wife swapping parties and stated that: “People will not believe what was going on”. No one was part of a wife swapping circle and people did not believe that that the village shop keeper was anything but a kind, caring man who gave a 100% for the people of the village. He would personally deliver food to the elderly or infirm if they could not get to the shop. A kind caring man, not a cold calculated murderer.
Robin loved Diana very much, he doted on her. I remember Diana being extremely upset that she had not been able to help Robin when the first robbery happened. She was the type of person to face things head on and would not shy away from confrontation if needed. I am lucky to be able to say that she was my friend and I looked forward to any social occasion where she was providing the catering….what an amazing cook!
Diana and Robin Garbutt
How much effort was initiated by the Police to look at the big picture of events. There was CCTV footage of a car following Robin on his cash and carry trips. People put names of possible suspects forward after being informed by recognised criminals. Cars identified speeding away on the morning of the murder. The murder weapon only DNA tested some months after the event. There was no DNA to link Robin to the murder, but male DNA was found on the murder weapon (eventually).
Was it because the focus was on money supposedly being un-accounted for from the Post Office, which persuaded the police to undertake a blinkered investigation? The Post Office has now had to admit that there was a fault with their Horizon system, which led to numerous Post Masters/Mistresses being convicted or having to resign from their duties. The civil claims will be dealt with for some time to come.
The prosecutions food expert that stated that Diana had died prior to 04:30 (contrary to what the post-mortem claimed) has since made claims of the contrary in cases after Robin’s and been contradicted by other experts in the field.
Village life was turned upside down by what had happened. No consideration was given to the village by the police in their blinkered investigation into getting a conviction….whether they got it right or wrong!
I was a good friend to both Robin and Diana. I still class myself as a friend of Robin's. I used to go and chat with them both after work most days. I saw first-hand, the type of person he was. Kind, caring, patient and a big part of the community. The murder split the village, but to this day, Robin receives birthday and Christmas cards from his supporters who know he did not and could not commit this heinous crime. I could not remain a supporter or friend of someone who had committed such a crime.
I appeal to the CCRC on behalf of Robins friends to review Robin’s case and send it for a new appeal. This kind, caring, compassionate man does not deserve to be imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
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