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Robin Garbutt's family show of faith in court number seven
SUPPORT: Robin Garbutt's brother-in-law Mark Stilborn and sister Sallie Wood leave court after the appeal hearing
A sub-postmaster convicted of killing his wife took his bid to clear his name to the Court of Appeal in London yesterday. Joe Willis reports
FRIENDS and family of convicted killer Robin Garbutt remained upbeat as they left court yesterday.
Supporters are convinced the seemingly mild-mannered shopkeeper, who waved as he was taken back to his cell, is innocent and has been the victim of a hideous miscarriage of justice.
Mark Stilborn, Garbutt’s brother-in-law, told the media gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice: “He’s trustworthy, honest and completely innocent – everyone knows that.”
However, friends and family of the victim also took their seats in the public gallery in court number seven to listen.
Agnes Gaylor, Diana’s mother, who is convinced of her sonin- law’s guilt, appeared visibly upset.
Although much of the fourhour hearing looked at the new evidence produced by Garbutt’s defence team – found on a post office server run by Fujitsu – other key pieces of evidence were discussed.
Jamie Hill QC, for the appellant, said the other strands of evidence were circumstantial and could be “explained to some extent”.
Medical evidence that Mrs Garbutt died several hours before she was discovered was inconclusive, he said.
The couple did have debts, but they were servicing them, he added.
And what about the customer who heard a woman’s voice call Robin’s name at about 6.30am that morning – a time the prosecution say Mrs Garbutt was already dead?
Mr Hill suggested that the new evidence could have been the tipping point between the jury looking at this circumstancial evidence with a critical eye – or assuming the defendant’s character was unreliable.
In response, David Hatton QC pointed to other evidence he said supported the prosecution case.
Why had the intruder stopped mid-flight to place the murder weapon on a high wall outside the premises?, he asked.
He pointed out that Garbutt failed to press the post office panic buttons during the raid.
Mr Hatton also told the judges how a witness had seen the accused walking around the village on the night before the murder – a claim Garbutt rejected during interview.
Far from the financial information being pivotal, he suggested the prosecution case relied heavily on the “strong evidence” that there was no intruder in the premises that morning “If that is correct then there was no robbery, and if there is no intruder and there is no robbery, the inevitable conclusion is that he killed Mrs Garbutt.”
What is not in doubt is that Mrs Garbutt’s body was found in the living quarters of the shop and post office they ran together in Melsonby, North Yorkshire, in March 2010.
She had been brutally beaten about the head with a metal bar.
Lord Justice Hughes, Mr Justice Hedley and Mr Justice Maddison must now decide whether her husband’s appeal against his conviction for her murder should be upheld, rejected or a retrial ordered.
Whatever their decision, it will mean further heartbreak for one family.