Today was the first day of Jeff’s appeal hearing. It was a big day.
Followers of the case will know that one of the major circumstantial arguments made against Jeff was the similarity of stab wounds in all three family members. Today the court heard from a number of expert witnesses, including those that represented the Crown case at the 2008 trial. They now agree that any similarity in the stab wounds of the victims was of no value in determining whether there were one or two attackers, ie., it was neutral.
This was, at last, a major concession by the prosecution. In her address to the jury at the 2008 trial, prosecutor Margaret Cuneen SC, had described the similarity of the stab wounds as “quite amazing” (T2.1439).
Also discussed today was the finding of Christopher Gilham’s blood carbon monoxide (CO) level of 6%. When this information was presented at the 2008 trial it was dismissed by the expert who said that it was a “negative result”. Today this very same expert expressed a completely different view, saying the level actually showed that Christopher Gilham had inhaled smoke before he died. The expert did not give an opinion as to where this smoke came from, but accepted that no one in the Gilham household smoked – a leading cause of environmental exposure to CO.
The most obvious and credible explanation for Christopher’s elevated CO level is that he was alive and upstairs in the house when the fire started.
This explanation makes the prosecution’s timing and case theory completely impossible, but accords entirely with Jeff’s account of what happened that night.
In what seemed a last ditch effort, the prosecution appeared to suggest that smoke from upstairs somehow sank rather than rose during the fire, and that Christopher breathed some of it after he was stabbed but before he died. However, testimony from both Jeff’s and the prosecution’s expert fire witnesses was that this was improbable, and that any smoke seen on the lower level, more than half an hour after ignition, was likely the result of the fire fighting effort. There was no evidence of hot smoke, such as soot staining on the walls, on the lower level of the house.
There was also significant evidence concerning the progression of the fire that Jeff described when he saw Christopher Gilham set his mother alight. At trial, the prosecution showed the jury fire demonstrations prepared by a fire expert, which suggested that Jeff’s story was false — that he would have been able to extinguish any fire and could have checked on his parents rather than running to attack his brother. Today, the very same expert witness accepted that tests performed by a member of Jeff NEEDS Justice, which were entirely consistent with Jeff’s account, were valid. This means that evidence supporting Jeff was not just unchallenged – it was accepted by an expert witness engaged by the prosecution. The Court also heard that the size and heat of the fire was such that Jeff would not have been able to extinguish or check on his parents. The only logical conclusion here being that Jeff gave an accurate and truthful account of what occurred.
Christopher Gilham stabbed his parents to death and set their bodies alight. Some will still try to spin the facts a thousand different ways, but the truth is normally the most simple and most obvious conclusion.
The appeal hearing is back in court on Wednesday. We expect more evidence will come out on the CO issue, as well as evidence about the bloodied finger mark on the intercom.