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Episode 4: Under the microscope

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They say you go to the countryside for the peaceful way of life, free from drama and danger. But as we learned this Sunday on Robbie Coltrane’s Critical Evidence 10pm, this is not always the case…

So let’s take another look under the microscope.

When former DCI Peter Brock first arrived at the Backhouse farm, little could have prepared him for the events that would unfurl over the coming weeks. Responding to a call of a vehicle explosion, he entered the farm meeting an understandably shaken Graham Backhouse, who’s wife had been the unfortunate occupant of the car at the time of the explosion. Luckily for her she did not suffer fatal injuries, due only to the metal plate installed below the drivers seat for the purposes of the heated seat.

From here the case grew with an apparent murder plot involving Mr Backhouse and his wife and a neighbour, who according to Mr Backhouse had been responsible for the attack on his wife and also sending death threats, most notably in the form of a scribbled note nailed below a severed sheep’s head, which read “You Next!”

Everything pointed to Mr Backhouses neighbour being the culprit, but certain things just didn’t add up. It was the next event that finally proved this, the police again responding to an incident at the farm, this time a body and a wounded Graham Backhouse! Mr Backhouse told police that he had shot his neighbour in self defence after being slashed across his face and chest, with a Stanley knife. Though, as has been proven throughout this series, police investigators will never take events at mere face value and things just weren’t adding up for DCI Brock.

Shot at point blank range

The forensic teams were called in to survey the crime scene and this is where Mr Backhouse’s testimony began to unravel. The blood spatters weren’t consistent with him having been slashed at, they were self inflicted and the blood had been dripped around the kitchen, in order for it to look as though he had been attacked. Secondly was the fact that the Stanley knife was found still in the hand of Mr Backhouse’s neighbour, after he had been shot at point blank range with a shotgun, the force of which would have flung the knife out of his hand. The reality was becoming more and more clear to the DCI, and in Peter Brocks own words Mr Backhouse’s testimony “was a pack of lies”.

But this was still circumstantial, and they needed further forensic evidence in order to prove Mr Backhouse’s guilt. Without it there was no case, as Mr Backhouse refused to speak in any of his interviews, so police had to put in the effort in order to prove without doubt, that Mr Backhouse had indeed murdered his neighbour and attempted to murder his wife.

In the end it was Mr Backhouse’s attempts to dig himself out, that lead him into an even deeper hole. During his time in prison, awaiting trial, he wrote a series of notes to various people, one to a local daily paper in which he had pretending to be the “real” killer and that he was annoyed that Mr Backhouse had been blamed instead. This note, however, gave police exactly what they had needed, as once they cross referenced that handwriting with the handwriting on the note, that had been found below the severed sheeps head, they were able to ascertain they were written by the same person, Mr Backhouse! It was a pencil and paper that created the largest sound of all, even when Mr Backhouse himself remained silent. We here at CI also had the honour of speaking to former DCI Peter Brock, who revealed more intimate details about the case, in addition to what was featured in Sunday’s Robbie Coltrane’s Critical Evidence, so be sure to give the podcast a listen.