Powerful extra evidence backed Taylor sisters

LAWYERS for Michelle and Lisa Taylor had powerful additional evidence to support their appeal, which was concluded last Friday when their convictions for the murder of Alison Shaughnessy were quashed.

It did not emerge because the judges asked specifically to hear about the evidence of Dr Michael Unsworth-White, the only witness to place the sisters at the scene of the crime at the material time; the non-disclosure of statements; and the role of the press.

However, Ann and Derek Taylor, who campaigned tirelessly for their daughters, privately commissioned a report from the respected Home Office pathologist, Dr A C 'Bill' Hunt, who concluded that 'an attack by a male intruder seens by far the most likely explanation of the death of Mrs Shaughnessy'.

In their judgment, the appeal court judges, Lord Justice McCowan, Mr Justice Tuckey and Mr Justice Douglas Brown, criticised the police and the press. The case raises questions about the adequacy of supervision by the Crown Prosecution Service and the conduct of professional and lay witnesses.

At the trial, the Crown pathologist, Professor Rufus Crompton, said that Mrs Shaughnessy's wounds were likely to have been inflicted by a woman. 'It would suggest the capability of a female,' he said. Under cross-examination, though, he conceded he was unable to determine the sex of the attacker. But the concession followed wide reporting of his earlier remarks.

The report by Dr Hunt, who has made a special study of injuries inflicted by stabbing, makes clear that the entire prosecution was misconceived. 'It appears that an assailant held one hand over the mouth from behind and inflicted the fatal injuries with a knife in the other hand,' he concluded. 'There is no evidence that more than one person was involved . . . I would have expected the assailant to have bloodstains upon his or her clothing.' There was no forensic evidence against the Taylor sisters.

Dr Hunt added that his experience of stabbing cases 'does not exclude the possibility that Mrs Shaughnessy was killed by a woman', but 'it does make it unlikely'. He added: 'It would be easy for a fairly tall person to inflict the injuries . . . it seems impossible for an individual of the same height (5ft 3in) as the deceased to inflict them. I have been informed that both Lisa and Michelle are only 5ft 2in tall and, in my view, this must exclude either of them.'

In the non-disclosed material, lawyers for the Taylors also found a statement from a man questioned a day after the murder in the road where it happened, in Battersea, south London.

He said he was unable to 'recall any unusual events at the relevant time except a green Cortina estate, about T-registration, parked at the end of the road blocking traffic at about 6pm.'

Two months later, within days of the Taylors' arrest, the same man said in a statement that he had noticed the car at 5.35pm and that it was a 'white estate car - I am sure a Ford Sierra'.

His evidence had thus changed in four vital respects - each of which fitted the prosecution case. Michelle Taylor drove a white Sierra estate. Michelle and Lisa can now celebrate their release, while regretting the time that was wasted in prison. The living-room floor of their house in Forest Hill, south London, is strewn with flowers and copies of newspapers, now telling a very different story about them.

'The girls still don't feel justice has been done,' said Ann Taylor. 'They have ben protesting their innocence from the beginning. After the verdict, the police told the press that Michelle and Lisa were wicked, evil girls, but all along they were withholding the evidence which proved their innocence.

'We want the case reopened now, not because of the girls themselves but because of everyone else involved, including Alison's family and especially her parents - what must they be going through now?'

But the questions raised by the sisters' long ordeal have been posed too late to be considered by the Royal Commission on the criminal justice system, which will deliver its long-awaited report early next month.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine