DAVID Gilroy, the man jailed for life for murdering missing Edinburgh book-keeper Suzanne Pilley, has been given a boost in advance of an appeal against his conviction.
Mr Gilroy, 50, was told that one of the arguments his lawyers want to use to claim he suffered a miscarriage of justice will be entertained after all.
It had previously been ruled that the particular ground of appeal, relating to paperwork which had been given in error to jurors at his trial, should be rejected.
Members of Gilroy’s family, including his wife, Andrea, attended a brief hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, where the full appeal will take place on a date yet to be fixed.
Earlier this year, Gilroy was found guilty of murdering Ms Pilley, 38, by unknown means, on 4 May, 2010, as she arrived at the office in Edinburgh city centre where they both worked and had become lovers.
Her body has never been found, but is believed to be buried somewhere in Argyll.
Gilroy, of Silverknowes Brae, Edinburgh, was jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 18 years before he could apply for parole.
The jury was told that Gilroy had confronted Ms Pilley over her decision to end their relationship, and he had lost his temper and killed her. He then put in place “an elaborate plan” to dispose of the body and saw it through with “chilling calmness and calculation,” said the trial judge , Lord Bracadale.
Appeals in Scotland are put through a sifting process, where a judge in private examines submitted grounds of appeal and allows only those deemed arguable to proceed to a full hearing in court.
Gilroy’s lawyers were successful in having one ground of appeal pass the sift. It related to the admissibility of certain evidence.
Following Ms Pilley’s disappearance, Gilroy was interviewed by the police and injuries to his hands were noted. He made no confession, but other evidence flowed from information he had given under questioning and was used against him by the prosecution which maintained he had been merely a witness, not a suspect.
“He was not cautioned before being questioned on these occasions,” stated the ground of appeal.
“By the stage of the first of these interviews, he was a suspect and should at least have been cautioned but, arguably, also offered legal assistance.
“The failure of the police to caution him before the relevant statements were taken has resulted in unfairness to him and a breach of article 6 (of the European Convention on Human Rights). The trial judge erred in admitting this evidence.”
At the trial, during the oral evidence of an expert witness about the possible cause of injuries to Gilroy, copies of a written report by the witness were given to the jurors. It had been intended that part of the report would be cut, literally, from the copies because the defence had complained that the witness had strayed from giving an opinion into speculation. However, some copies were missed and were among those distributed to the jury.
The defence asked for the trial to be aborted, but Lord Bracadale ruled that it could continue.
For the appeal, Gilroy’s lawyers maintained that the only safe course had been to stop the trial because the effect of the error was unknown and could have been significant.
The ground of appeal was rejected at the sift, but John Scott, QC, for Gilroy, submitted to the appeal judges that it should be reinstated.
Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice-Clerk, sitting with Lord Mackay and Lady Smith, said: “We are persuaded we should allow this additional ground of appeal to be argued.”