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Episode 8: Under the microscope

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Robbie Coltrane’s Critical Evidence came to a climatic end this Sunday. Looking at a tragic missing persons case turned murder case, an investigation that still runs till this day with a body having never been found…

So let’s take a closer look under the microscope!

It all started as a missing persons case, but after a week of combing through CCTV footage from across the city of Edinburgh, the case became that of a murder investigation. Suzanne Pilley, a worker in the city of Edinburgh, had begun her day like any other, got on the morning bus and walked to her office. But this was as far as she got, as it was here that she was murdered, before being dumped in the Scottish highlands.

This is what police investigators strongly believed was the case and they had one man in their line of questioning, Suzanne’s boss, David Gilroy. However from the outset he had been very forthcoming with police, providing them with details of her personal life, her friends, relationships and police took this as useful information but it didn’t arouse suspicion.

Though as time passed, small shreds of evidence began to mount up into a clearer picture of events and Gilroy was most definitely in the frame. It had surfaced that he and Suzanne had been engaged in an affair and it had been far from loving, with Suzanne’s family informing police of Gilroy’s violent temper. Now police had a solid suspect, they could start piecing evidence together, the first breakthrough coming from the cadaver dogs. They were sent in to search for any clues of a body having been in the office complex. They gave 3 positive indications that a decomposing body had been at 3 seperate locations within the building, the main one being Gilroy’s work parking space, at the end at which the boot of his car was.

From this, officers concluded that a body had been in the location of the office and more than likely put into the boot of Gilroy’s car. This was then paired with CCTV evidence of Gilroy’s movements on the day of Suzanne’s disappearance, in which he had acted out of character, being seen several times wandering up and down the lane by the parking bays of his office and then a second time returning to the office with a plastic bag, which after investigation of purchase receipts was found to contain air fresheners.

Further to this was the journey that Gilroy had taken the following day after Suzanne’s disappearance, in which he had to travel to the other side of Scotland, cutting through the Scottish highlands, a remote and heavily wooded area. Now this was a scheduled journey that he had had to take, but police chose not to take this at face value and instead painstakingly worked out the route he had taken and how long it should have taken him. They conducted fuel tests to see how much he should have used, had he taken the route, without any form of deviation and this is where the critical evidence was uncovered. On the remote portion of his route that should have taken just over thirty minutes to pass through, Gilroy had taken almost two and half hours and roughly the same amount of time on his journey back. He had also switched his phone off and then on again either side of entering and leaving the area.

This left three hours of unaccounted movement.

So police had the connection of a body having been moved and being placed in a parking space belonging to David Gilroy, they had his erratic behaviour captured on CCTV and the purchase of air fresheners and now they had him taking a journey but with significant detours. Police believed this was evidence of him having murdered Suzanne Pilley, moving her body and then dumping her in his boot and buying air fresheners to try and mask the smell of her decomposing body. The following day he had journeyed across the remote area of Scotland, removed her body from his boot and hidden or buried it in the dense woodland.

However, this was all circumstantial evidence as investigators had no body to tie Gilroy with the actual murder and only 4 cases of a ‘no body’ murder conviction had ever seen a guilty verdict, but police believed they had enough evidence to charge Gilroy and on 15th March 2012 he was sentenced, by majority verdict, to life imprisonment for the murder of Suzanne Pilley.

To this day her body has never been found and Gilroy has never admitted to her murder or the possible location of her body and so the case remains open. The question this raises is did Gilroy deserve the sentence of life when his guilt was not 100% proven?