A woman disappeared. A man was convicted. Case closed?
Body of Proof, a true crime podcast, examines the many unanswered questions surrounding the disappearance and death of Suzanne Pilley in Edinburgh in 2010 and the subsequent conviction of David Gilroy. Journalists and TV producers Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis spent two years investigating the case and spoke exclusively to David Gilroy, who was convicted of murdering Suzanne Pilley and disposing of her body. Sentenced to life in a Scottish prison, Gilroy maintains his innocence. In this gripping investigation new information is uncovered, and aspects of the Scottish criminal justice system come under the spotlight.
David Gilroy’s extra marital affair with Suzanne Pilley had ended prior to her disappearance in May 2010, when she failed to arrive at work. This 10 part podcast by Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis examines the case, looking at the evidence and the factors that lead to David Gilroy’s conviction for murder.
I had no knowledge of this case before listening to the podcast and was very surprised to learn the conviction was based solely on circumstantial evidence, and only needed a majority vote. The jury is meant to believe the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Apparently key pieces of evidence were missed from the trial and certain witnesses were not called.
To my mind it would be difficult to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt when there’s no forensic evidence, witnesses, no body and no signs of violence. Having said that, there are things that don’t quite add up and cause doubt in Gilroy’s protestations of innocence. Mainly the fact he travelled a good distance by car the day after Suzanne Pilley disappeared, a journey that probably could have been postponed. The journey took hours longer than it should have there and back, which lead the prosecution to surmise that was when the body was disposed of.
In the two years that Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis were trawling through the evidence, CCTV footage and interviewing people, one or two new opinions came to light, most notably that of the final CCTV images that were said at the time to be Suzanne Pilley walking towards the offices, where both she and Gilroy worked, were not conclusive according to an expert. The quality wasn’t clear enough to even determine if the person was male or female. Sometimes it did seem as though the reporters were biased towards Gilroy when they failed to follow up questions that were raised, particularly about Gilroy’s co-workers feelings about him and the fact his ex-wife doesn’t visit and has dropped the Gilroy name.
So no definitive conclusions one way or the other, just an exploration of known facts and unanswered questions, which basically remained unanswered, but it definitely does raise questions, if nothing else, about the validity of convictions based on circumstantial evidence alone.
When this podcast ended David Gilroy still protested his innocence and maintained the trial was mishandled. He was in the process of trying to arrange another appeal.