Family’s united front in face of damning charges

LED from the dock moments after being convicted of murder, David Gilroy looked over at his loyal wife Andrea sitting in the public gallery and silently mouthed three words – “I love you”.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 16th March 2012, 12:00 pm

To Gilroy’s friends and colleagues sitting in court, the gesture probably fitted with the image of a hard-working family man they had known before May 4, 2010. To others, it will only have compounded the impression of a manipulating killer with a personality rife with contradictions.

He is a man with no previous convictions who would go on commit the most horrific crime. A man who would unwind after a long day on trial for murder by playing golf. And a man who continued to live with his wife in the family home throughout.

Mrs Gilroy, 43, has taken centre stage in the case, exercising her right to refuse to give evidence against her husband and pledging to stand by him.

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As Gilroy’s bizarre double life coupled with the simmering violence in his personality has now been laid bare, it is unlikely many more will do the same.

For neighbours he had been a “nice, normal guy” while his boss at Infrastructure Managers Limited would call him a “fantastic employee” tasked with administrating complex PFI projects. Staff also knew him as the office “Mr Fix-it”, always on hand to make repairs in the building.

Indeed, police acknowledged that Gilroy, an engineer from his time in the Royal Navy, was a “very highly regarded as a problem solver” who simply took the horrific murder he had committed as “another problem to be solved”.

The 49-year-old would even tell his boss that his “military training” had allowed him to cope with the strain of becoming a police suspect.

On the outside, there was nothing to suggest the man who spent his free time watching rugby, Hibs at Easter Road, or on his local Silverknowes golf course was anything other than he appeared.

A neighbour told the Evening News: “He just seemed like a normal guy with a family who kept himself to himself.”

Another added: “We just had neighbourly chit-chat. He seemed like a nice, normal guy. We were shocked when this all came out.”

But other residents saw flashes of his arrogant and confrontational side, and spoke of their disbelief that he hosted parties following Suzanne Pilley’s disappearance.

One neighbour said: The family have acted like nothing has been happening. They have been throwing parties and even threw a huge Hallowe’en party for the kids last year. It seemed like there were 100 kids there, which is crazy. Why would you let your children go to a party at the house of a murderer?

“He used to walk around like he was an action man. I found him very aggressive. He had a bad attitude.”

Married for 18 years, Gilroy had built a successful career and enjoyed a “rapid rise” at IML to the post of regional operations manager.

Originally from West Pilton, he left school at 18 to join the navy and remained in the service until the age of 31, finishing his career as head engineer on HMS Brazen before taking redundancy in August 1992.

Gilroy met his wife in 1987 and they married in the month he returned to civilian life, going on to have two children, a daughter now 15 and a son aged 13.

The couple lived quietly in their home in Silverknowes Brae for nine years.

It may seem like a regular picture of domestic bliss but what happened behind closed doors tells a very different story.

On charges later withdrawn during his trial, Gilroy was accused of assaulting his wife at their home as early as January 1, 2009, four months before the affair with Ms Pilley started. The alleged violence ran until May 18, 2010 – after Ms Pilley was murdered – and included brandishing a knife at his spouse.

His violent temper was clearly evident while he was with Ms Pilley whenever his jealously was aroused or his possessiveness thwarted.

Along with colleagues from IML, Ms Pilley and Gilroy spent a day at Crieff Hydro in October 2010 as part of a team- building exercise. It would end in a night-time row when Gilroy confronted Ms Pilley and accused her of trying to sleep with a man she had met outside while having a cigarette.

In November 2009, a violent argument erupted in Ms Pilley’s flat, with a wine bottle smashed and a chair overturned after Gilroy stormed out having also thrown some of her possessions out of a window.

Outside in the street, Gilroy was also accused of threatening to kill Ms Pilley’s neighbour, Scott Stewardson.

Gilroy also wanted to control whom Ms Pilley could speak to, once hiding her mobile phone for three weeks.

But he continued to try to maintain the family man image, even when Ms Pilley’s body was concealed in the boot of his car at home in the hours after he killed her.

That evening he went to a presentation at his daughter’s school with his wife before going for a meal at Vittoria on Leith Walk, Gilroy choosing mushroom risotto for himself.

Of course, the image of a happy family life would soon collapse under the weight of the police investigation as on June 23, Gilroy was charged with murder and the following month he was sacked by IML.

It was at IML on Thistle Street that he had first met Ms Pilley before embarking on the turbulent affair which would end in such tragic circumstances.

Despite the allegations hanging over him, Mr and Mrs Gilroy continued to live together, often arriving at court hand in hand.

They would return home together, Gilroy often finding time after a day’s hearing to play a few holes of golf.

Before proceedings began each morning, Mrs Gilroy sat in the court canteen with Gilroy, his father and friends. She was often seen laughing at her husband’s jokes.

One onlooker said: “They very much looked like the normal couple – they didn’t appear to be under stress.

“They were often seen giggling – I saw the pair of them walking hand in hand with each other.

“It’s hard to believe but you wouldn’t have thought Gilroy was standing trial for murder.

“He looked as though he really needed her. She looked as though he was her rock.”