'Blood money' for murdered nurse's family

Click to follow
The Independent Online
"BLOOD money" of 1.7m Australian dollars (around pounds 680,000) is to be handed over this week to Frank Gilford in return for waiving the sentences on the British nurses convicted of killing his sister Yvonne. The money could be released as early as today.

Mr Gilford, who has dismissed claims by Deborah Parry and her former friend Lucille McLauchlan that they were tortured into making false confessions to the murder, insisted the payment of around pounds 680,000 was compensation for the loss of his sister. Ms Gilford, a 55-year-old nurse, was murdered at the King Fahd Military Medical Centre in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, 18 months ago.

The money, raised by large British companies which trade with Saudi Arabia, had been withheld in a trust at an Adelaide Bank to ensure Mr Gilford's waiver of Parry's death sentence, and the eight years and 500 lashes imposed on McLauchlan.

But today the murdered woman's family was set to receive two cheques - one for A$1.05m (more than pounds 400,000), for a ward at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital dedicated to Yvonne's memory, and another for A$700,000 (pounds 280,000), payable to a trust account administered by Mr Gilford's lawyers. Mr Gilford will deduct A$50,000 (pounds 20,000) for expenses incurred since Yvonne's murder and his mother, who lives in an old people's home, will receive A$9,000 (pounds 3,600). The remaining A$641,000 (pounds 296,000) will pay legal bills.

Ms Parry, 39, from Alton, Hampshire, and Ms McLauchlan, 32, from Dundee, admitted the 1996 killing but later retracted their statements, saying they had been abused and threatened with gang rape. They sold their stories to two national newspapers on returning to Britain last Thursday.

Mr Gilford was not answering the telephone last night at his home in the outback town of Jamestown, 200km north of Adelaide in South Australia, where he works as a courier. But he was quoted in Australian newspapers at the weekend attacking Deborah Parry and Lucille McLauchlan over the sale of their stories to the tabloids for six-figure sums.

"I reckon they'll sell the film rights next," he said, speaking from his home. "And they talk about me being a blood leech."

Mr Gilford dismissed the women's protests of innocence. He said he believed the women's behaviour on their arrival in Britain from Saudi Arabia last week, hiding from cameras and the media, betrayed their sense of guilt. "If I was bloody innocent, I wouldn't be hiding myself away. I'd be standing on a soap box saying, 'I'm innocent, I'm innocent'.

"I think when the British public see all this, the tide of opinion will turn against these women and we might get a bit of sympathy instead of threatening letters branding me a blood money-grabber."