JEFFREY Gilham is a free man, having been acquitted of his parents’ murder 19 years after they were stabbed to death in their Woronora home.
He held his wife Robecca close before the pair strode victorious, hand-in-hand from the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Monday afternoon.
Police had accused Mr Gilham of murdering his brother, Christopher, and parents, Stephen and Helen, before setting fire to the crime scene in August 1993.
Mr Gilham, 42, now of St Ives, has maintained since then that his brother murdered both parents, and that he killed Christopher after discovering the horrific scene.
He pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his brother, and got a good behaviour bond as penalty.
More than 10 years of criminal proceedings came to a close when Mr Gilham was acquitted of his parents’ murder.
He could barely contain his emotions outside the court when thanking ‘‘everyone who has fought for the truth to be told’’.
‘‘This has been a horrendous experience for us,’’ Mr Gilham said.
‘‘I am glad today that I have been acquitted of the charges. I am very happy to be going home a free man.’’
Robecca Gilham said only that she was ‘‘thrilled to be able to tell our girls that Daddy is never going back to prison’’.
The decision to acquit Mr Gilham split three Supreme Court judges.
Chief Justice Peter McClellan was of the view that miscarriages of justice in Mr Gilham’s trial process could ‘‘more adequately be dealt with by an order for a new trial than by an order for an acquittal’’.
But fellow judges Peter Garling and Elizabeth Fullerton said the accused killer should be exonerated.
Judge Fullerton said there were flaws in Crown evidence that convicted Mr Gilham, and that she was ‘‘not persuaded that the interests of justice require that the applicant be ordered to stand trial a third time’’.
Mr Gilham twice stood trial in 2008, first before a jury which could not reach a verdict, and then in front of a second which found him guilty of double murder.
That finding was quashed in December last year, when Mr Gilham’s legal team heaped doubt on evidence which suggested Jeffrey, not Christopher, killed Stephen and Helen Gilham.
The judges who acquitted Mr Gilham said their decision had been partially led by new evidence relating to the concentration of carbon monoxide in the bodies of Christopher, Stephen and Helen Gilham.
Jeffrey’s uncle, Tony Gilham, rejected yesterday’s result.
‘‘There’s a miscarriage of justice taken place here,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel a bit shocked.’’
Tony Gilham said he would push for Jeffrey to be convicted again, and described the court’s decision as ‘‘ridiculous’’.
‘‘Not a double murderer, but a triple murderer walked out of this court. A murderer is walking out amongst us.’’
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said in a press statement today that The Director of Public Prosecutions, Lloyd Babb SC, has directed ‘‘that there will be no appeal in the matter of Jeffrey Gilham’’.
The sequence of events:
1993: Stephen Gilham, 58, his wife Helen Gilham, 55, their older son, Christopher, 25, died at their Woronora home after being stabbed numerous times, and their house set on fire.
1995: Younger brother Jeffrey Gilham, 23, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his brother, saying he came to the house from the boatshed on the property where he had been sleeping and saw what Christopher had done, then killed him in a fit of rage.
2008: After Jeffrey Gilham faced a trial for murdering his parents the jury was unable to reach a verdict, but a second jury during a second murder trial found him guilty of the two murders.
2009: Jeffrey Gilham was sentenced to life imprisonment for double murder.
2011: Gilham’s appeal heard. Conviction later quashed after a new expert witness cast doubts on a fundamental part of the prosecution case.
2012: Gilham acquitted of murder in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.