No one knows the exact details of the events that occurred in the early hours of Aug 28, 1993 in the Gilham household. But JeffNEEDSJustice has reviewed and considered all the available evidence and has a theory on what may have happened.
While much of this is necessarily speculative, there is no detail here that does not fit with the available evidence.
We believe that Christopher attacked his father Stephen before stabbing his mother once in the front of the chest and slashing her neck and arm. There is evidence indicating he then went downstairs to shower, as his glasses are found on the window sill of his bathroom, he has soap bubbles in his ear, and a towel monogrammed with his name is rolled up in a ball, discarded in his bedroom.
When Christopher heard his mother’s screams to Jeff on the intercom he hurried upstairs and stabbed Helen repeatedly in the back before dousing his parents in mineral turpentine and setting fire to them as Jeff arrived.
There is considerable evidence showing that Christopher was unhappy leading up to the tragedy. This evidence has been provided by several friends and family of Stephen and Helen – not just Jeff himself (as the prosecution asserted to the jury at the trial). Some of the things that were making Christopher unhappy include:
- Recent break-up with his girlfriend
- A career crisis, given that he couldn’t find a job in the field he was trained
- As a result he had been forced to train as a school teacher. He was not enjoying teaching and had recently had a bad prac teaching experience.
- His mother worried about him and did not allow him to drive at night. This was limiting for a 25 year old man.
For some reason, on the tragic evening, Christopher’s unhappiness turned to anger and ultimately rage directed at his parents. He went outside and collected the axe in preparation to attack his father. As he returned to the house carrying the axe, he left the sliding door open. He then took a knife from the kitchen drawer.
Christopher left the axe on the floor next to his parents’ bed and attacked his father Stephen first, using the knife. His mother Helen woke up during this attack and when she got out of bed, either to try and stop Christopher or to call for help, he stabbed her in the front of the chest and caused the slash wounds to her neck and arm. Christopher then left his parents to die and went downstairs to shower off their blood. He prepared to take his own life. There was evidence of a high-dose paracetamol preparation in Christopher’s bathroom. This was probably made up before the attacks.
Evidence that supports Christopher showering includes:
- His glasses were found on the window sill of his bathroom, the most likely place for him to leave them before showering
- The time difference from when the neighbour hears screaming and Jeff raising the alarm
- Police crime scene video and photographs show what appear to be soap bubbles in Christopher’s ear. His body, and especially his hair, is also wet. Although the water could be also from the fire fighting, it doesn’t exclude the possibility that he showered.
- Christopher’s monogrammed towel is discarded in his bedroom.
After Christopher showered and finished drying himself, he returned to his bedroom and put on his shave coat. He heard his mother scream. Christopher was surprised to hear Helen was still alive, so he hurried upstairs and stabbed her in the back. Helen’s body was found on the floor directly below the intercom, her right arm stretched out, consistent with her actually having called Jeff on the intercom. Furthermore, on review of the crime scene video, a bloodied fingerprint can be seen below the call button on the intercom. This evidence was not presented to the jury at trial. It is important because it validates Jeff’s account that his mother called him over the intercom.
On Christopher’s way up the stairs, he grabbed a bottle of mineral turps, possibly from the laundry (near his bathroom), or from next to the bottle of methylated spirits seen on the bench at the base of the staircase. He may have gathered these previously in preparation for setting the house on fire.
After stabbing Helen, Christopher dropped the knife and poured the mineral turps over the floor and his parents’ bodies.
We don’t know whether Christopher knew that Helen had been successful in contacting Jeff over the intercom. We suspect he did not, and so when Jeff arrived at the house, Christopher was not expecting him and therefore he was not waiting to attack Jeff. He told Jeff he had killed their parents and lit the fire.
Jeff, completely overtaken by the horror and shock of the events, was consumed by a single thought, which was to “get him”. The discarded knife was in view, so it was the weapon used.