February 19 2024
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Obituary: Sue Caddick – The sister who fought back

Obituary: Sue Caddick – The sister who fought back

Eddie Gilfoyle - with his sister Sue Caddick

The wonderful and great justice fighter Sue Caddick has died of cancer, aged only 64 years-old. Matt Foot recalls a tireless campaigner who devoted her life to clearing her brother’s name

Sue’s life into her 30s was going well. She was ticking along happy in life, with four children, her childhood sweetheart husband, Paul. They lived and worked on the Wirral. She was a carer, Paul was doing well in his career as a police sergeant.

Sue at the launch of Jon Robins’ Guilty Until Proven Innocent (July 25th 2018)

Then on 4 June 1992, her brother Eddie’s wife, Paula, was found hanging in the garage. Things got much worse. Four days later Eddie Gilfoyle was arrested for the murder of his wife, despite police finding a hand-written suicide note that was confirmed by experts to be her own writing. She was eight and a half months pregnant when she died. There was no forensic evidence for murder.

The family thought it would be OK, and the trial would sort it out. But it didn’t. The evidence placed before the jury led on 3 July 1993 to Eddie’s conviction.

Sue devoted her life to correcting this terrible wrong. She gave up her job and they learned how to campaign. Paul had first discovered Paula’s body, and, equally convinced of Eddie’s innocence and knowing the flaws in the police investigation, he joined Sue to correct the injustice. As a local police officer, he could not stay in the force that had allowed this to happen.

They set up a campaign which met regularly in the local church. They wrote letters, put out leaflets, spoke at meetings. They found better lawyers. That wasn’t going to be hard because Eddie had been represented by a sole practitioner who ended up in the same prison as him following a 12 month imprisonment for fraud. They found the best, Campbell Malone and Michael Mansfield QC. They found support from their MP, David Hunt, who has supported the case ever since, and from the former Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside, Alison Halford, who met Eddie in prison and was convinced of his innocence.

Based on what they knew, Sue made an extensive complaint raising 100 issues about the police investigation. The complaint revealed significant flaws in the police investigation, including a secret report which was never disclosed to the defence, into the failings of how the police dealt with the scene. The PCA referred evidence that could cast doubt on the conviction to the CPS and Merseyside police.

Two appeals followed with powerful evidence. The first included a witness who saw Paula alive on the afternoon of her death, when Eddie was at work. The Court sought to discredit her despite the jury not hearing her account, which the police had contrived to put to one side. The second appeal related to psychological and rope expert evidence. The Court came to a neutral position on the rope expertise, but dismissed out of hand the psychologist report of David Canter (despite his status as the person on whom the series Cracker was based).

Sue and Paul have continued to fight this injustice ever since.

I am not sure when I first met Sue. It feels like I have known her all my life, but I think it was through Paddy Hill in 2005. She had a very kind nature and was a great story-teller about what her four children and their partners were up to – she was so proud of their achievements.

Sue’s careful explanation of the issues in the case and the psychology helped me understand the case and carry out further work. I was assisted by the journalist Eric Allison (who also recently died). Dominic Kennedy at The Times, also became interested in the case. In response to stories in The Times it became clear that the Attorney General had misled Parliament. An apology was given with criticism of the information provided by the CPS. This led to fuller disclosure. I arranged to go and see the police’s physical exhibits in Bebbington Police Station. I had no idea where it was and so Paul Caddick kindly agreed to drive me up there. The police had left the exhibits in Liverpool but I insisted on returning the following day. The first exhibit I saw was two diaries of Paula, covering ten years. These revealed a very troubled past, including a previous suicide attempt, and an ongoing relationship with a former fiancé who had committed a murder.

Sue was the spokesperson for the campaign. She went on national TV about the failure to provide the diaries prior to trial, and spoke at meetings at the House of Lords with such dignity and clarity. I recommend to you her speech to the Innocence Network UK symposium on appeals in 2014, where she spoke of the misery for innocent people trying to get justice from the CCRC. In 2016, despite the new evidence of Paula Gilfoyle’s diaries and other matters, the CCRC refused to refer the case to the Court of Appeal. The specialist in appeals, Henry Blaxland KC, described the decision as ‘astounding’. The decision meant Sue would never see justice for her brother.

Last week there was a moving funeral attended by Sue’s close-knit family. It confirmed that alongside being the most amazing campaigner she had raised the most wonderful family. Her gorgeous smile rose above any injustice.

Sue Caddick (26 May 1958 – 31 March 2023)