Supporters of Melsonby sub-postmaster convicted of murder campaign for review

Robin Garbutt supporters outside the outside the HQ of the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Supporters of a man convicted of murdering his wife at Melsonby Post office have protested outside the headquarters of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Robin Garbutt was convicted of the murder of his wife, Diana, after a jury trial at Teesside Crown Court in 2011.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years.

Garbutt has already appealed once against the conviction and lost.

The CCRC later rejected a bid for a further appeal, ruling that “there is no real possibility” that the Court of Appeal would overturn Garbutt’s murder conviction.

However, Garbutt’s supporters are urging the CCRC to review that decision.

They joined human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell at the protest in Birmingham, which called for a “swifter and fairer” assessment of cases submitted by prisoners who are protesting their innocence and seeking a review of their conviction.

The protest was organised by the campaign group, Innocent: Failed by the CCRC – an umbrella group set up by the Jeremy Bamber Innocence Campaign (JBIC).

The protesters held placards including which one read ‘Freedom for Robin Garbutt’.

The protest criticised the CCRC’s “delays, incompetence and bias against prisoners who have presented evidence of wrongful convictions”.

Emma Morris, from the Bamber campaign team, said: “We set up Innocent: Failed by the CCRC as an alliance to bring together those who are being failed by the CCRC in a similar way to Jeremy Bamber.

“There are many people fighting their cases with the CCRC that may have thought the problems they were having with the CCRC were unique to them.

“However, coming together with others shows it’s not just you, or the case you’re fighting for; the problems are endemic within the CCRC.

“They have less than a 2% referral rate back to the Court of Appeal, and we’re hearing so many stories of those who turned to them for help but were, instead, failed by the CCRC.”

Diana was found beaten to death in an upstairs bedroom at the property after her husband dialled 999 and said armed robbers had attacked his wife before leaving committing the robbery.

Police and paramedics initially responded to a report of an armed robbery and detectives appealed for help to catch a man wearing a balaclava who was brandishing a gun.

However, they arrested Garbutt on suspicion of murdering his wife three weeks later, and established that he had beaten her with a 30cm iron bar as she slept in the flat above the shop.

Garbutt was convicted after the prosecution provided evidence which showed a number of holes in his account.

Diana and Garbutt had eaten a fish and chip supper about 8.30pm on the night before the murder.

An expert witness told the trial that tests on the contents of Diana’s stomach suggested she was killed between 2.30am and 4.30am, before her husband opened up the shop.

Paramedics also told police that the body was in the first stages of rigor mortis when they arrived and that she must have died in the early hours.

This did not fit with Garbutt’s claim that his wife must have been killed shortly before the robbery which he said took place at 8.35am when the post office safe was automatically unlocked.

The jury also heard that with the 999 call being made at 8.37am, it would have given Garbutt just 120 seconds to have been confronted by the robber, ordered to lock the shop door, empty the safe of £10,000 into a bag, empty the till, watch the robber leave out the back door, run upstairs to find his wife’s body and then alert the emergency services.

The trial was told how in 2009 the couple, who married in 2003, had eight holidays, including weekends in Amsterdam paying two visits to the Hard Rock Cafe, a trip to York, Paris and Northumberland.

A week after the murder they were due to fly to America for a three-week holiday at a cost of £3,000.

Garbutt had six credit cards, all with large and increasing balances.

The prosecution suggested he had been taking money from the post office account to pay for their expensive lifestyle and to keep his wife happy, as she became disinterested in the marriage and the lifestyle, and began to look for a new man by joining a dating website.

Earlier this year, Diana’s mother accused Garbutt of exploiting the Horizon post office scandal in his latest bid to get out of prison.

Agnes Gaylor has spoken out after the prisoner claimed evidence from the discredited Post Office system was used to secure his conviction for the killing.

The last time the CCRC rejected Garbutt’s application to go to the Court of Appeal they ruled that figures from the Horizon system were not essential to his conviction for murder.

Mr Justice Openshaw, who sentenced Garbutt to life in prison, said Garbutt’s account was a “ludicrous story from beginning to end”.

He added: “There was no struggle, she never awoke. He struck three savage blows, smashing her skull and causing her immediate death as clearly he intended.

“He feigned cheerfulness as he served customers, as he attempted to deceive them that all was well. He has always accompanied his lies with sanctimonious lies of his love for her. The jury have exposed this as pure humbug.

“This was a brutal, planned, cold-blooded murder of his wife as she lay sleeping in bed.”


1 Comment

  1. I would suggest anyone reading this look at this weeks Private Eye and their huge piece on this case quoting “When Garbutt was jailed in 2011, the prosection case was at its strongest.He was only convicted by a 10-2 jury,suggesting then that 2 jurors had reasonable doubt.Now the case has crumbled piece by piece,the big queston is whether the CCRC will continue to deny Robin Garbutt a fair trial”

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