Suzanne Pilley murder trial: Suspicion alone not enough, jury warned

JURORS in the Suzanne Pilley trial will try to reach a verdict today after the lawyer for the man accused of murdering her warned that it would be “unsafe” to convict him.

The jury deliberated yesterday afternoon, but returned to ask for an adjournment overnight.

David Gilroy’s QC, Jack David- son, questioned the prosecution’s claim to have a compelling case, and argued that it would take a “bold but inappropriate” step for a guilty verdict to be returned

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Gilroy, 49 of Silverknowes Brae, Edinburgh, denies murdering Ms Pilley, 38, of Whitson Road, on 4 May, 2010, by unknown means and hiding the body in the premises of Infrastructure Managers Ltd (IML), Thistle Street, Edinburgh, where they both worked, before transporting it in the boot of his car to various locations in Scotland. Her remains have never been found.

In his closing speech, Mr Davidson submitted that the jury had heard a “superficially attractive” address by the Crown.

“It may have made some of you suspicious towards Mr Gilroy … a lot of you suspicious … some of you highly suspicious … but what you have to be absolutely clear about is suspicion, strong suspicion, in itself will not do. What I have to say to you is that the Crown case does not provide you with that degree of certainty that you need to feel before you can convict someone of murder,” he said.

“Where is the compelling evidence that really makes you say, ‘I can with confidence put to one side any doubt which I may have as to his guilt’?”

Mr Davidson suggested that the lack of a body, while not an obstacle to a charge of murder being brought, should cause jurors to hesitate and be “very, very, very careful” before considering conviction.

He highlighted the lack of any forensic trail to a body, or to Gilroy. Nothing had been found by scientists in the garage or staircase recess of the IML building where the Crown claimed the murder had been committed and the body stored. Nor was there anything in the boot of Gilroy’s car which he was supposed to have used to transport her body to some unknown destination. “Are you going to convict a man of murder in these circumstances, on the totality of individual weak pieces of evidence? It requires an extremely bold step by a jury and an inappropriate step by a jury to take matters to the level of conviction,” said Mr Davidson.

The Crown’s theory, he continued, involved many things which were not backed by evidence. For example, Gilroy had persuaded Ms Pilley to go downstairs in their office block to chat.

“Evidence? I do not recollect it. Speculation should play no part in your arriving at your verdict,” Mr Davidson stated.

“The Crown theory is there is a struggle and a murder, moving of the body, dragging it presumably, and lifting it up and putting it in the boot. The bottom line is there no forensic evidence linking her with the recess, her with the boot, or him with the recess. Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

Lord Bracadale told the jurors: “I direct you that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence coming from more than one source which, when brought together and considered as a whole, would allow you to find that the accused is guilty of murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

“Whether you accept that evidence and whether it satisfies you beyond reasonable doubt is entirely a matter for you.”