The Appeal Hearing: Day 1

Today was the first day of Jeff’s appeal hearing.  It was a big day.

Stab Wounds

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).

Carbon Monoxide

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.

Fire Progression

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.


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Appeal hearing commences

Tomorrow, November 28th 2011, Jeff’s appeal hearing against his 2008 conviction commences in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.

The appeal comprises 18 separate grounds, including challenges to the way circumstantial evidence was presented to the trial jury in 2008, as well important fresh evidence that demonstrates Jeff’s innocence.

The prosecution have always argued that all of the circumstantial evidence against Jeff should be considered as a whole, and this shows that he is guilty.  Our findings, and those of expert witnesses, have since shown that every single point of circumstantial case against Jeff was flawed and therefore the jury were misled.

We are all looking forward to the appeal hearing.  Assuming this is conducted with fairness and impartiality, it will eventually result in Jeff’s wrongful conviction being overturned.

A brief press announcement about the start of the appeal hearing can be found here.


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Jars of Certitude

We don’t care too much when our carefully researched findings are ignored by the ignorant.  For those that want to believe that Jeff is guilty of murdering his parents, we could probably hand them a pre-recorded confession from Christopher and they’d still be unmoved.

But when significant and compelling material is dismissed publicly by those that are influential, intelligent and apparently well-informed, that’s a different matter.  How Jonathan Holmes was able to make his own summary judgement on the significance of our work is perplexing.  Thanks then, for more balanced and reasonable commentators like Shelley Gare, prepared to call out Mr Holmes and his “jars of certitude”.  (Scroll down halfway through Shelley’s issue 9 to see her summary Jonathan Holmes and the importance of being right.)


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Carbon Monoxide

We have just now published our evidence summary page on Carbon Monoxide (CO).  The significance of this finding is that it demonstrates that Christopher Gilham was alive and upstairs at the time the fire started.

This point alone is clear scientific evidence in favour of Jeff’s account of the events of August 28th, 1993 and therefore sufficient reasonable doubt over his conviction in 2008.
When the CO measurements were presented at Jeff’s second trial in 2008, the jury were mis-led into believing that Christopher Gilham’s CO level was unimportant for the purposes of understanding what happened in the Gilham house in the early hours of that morning.

There are those that will continue to dismiss the importance of our findings on CO measurements, and we anticipate various arguments against them will be rolled out at the upcoming appeal.
When all is said and done, when the appeal panel consider the evidence of CO measurements, the decision they will have to reach is simple, and that is, What is more likely to have elevated Christopher’s blood CO to the level of heavy smoker on August 28, 1993?
Will it be one (or more) of the speculations of the Crown’s witnesses?  Or will it be the house fire that was started in the upstairs rooms of the house that night?

Please stay in touch with our news as we release more throughout the upcoming appeal hearing.

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Thank you

With the recent airing of Australian Story ‘Bad Blood’ parts 1&2 (still viewable online), we expected to pick up some more interest in Jeff Gilham’s case and public debate on the circumstances leading to Jeff’s conviction.

While all of us that are close to Jeff know and believe that he deserves public support and to be treated fairly, we did not know how people would react upon hearing our arguments for Jeff’s innocence.

We have been overwhelmed and moved by your expressions of support.
Many people have posted messages here on our Support page and they continue to come in every day.  We are going to try to publish and/or reply to every one of these, but the backlog will take us some time to work through!

All of these messages are important to us and to Jeff. We still have a lot of work to do to see him come home. Knowing there are so many people backing us makes our work, and Jeff’s time away from his family, just a little easier.

Thank you.

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