Man who served 36 years for murder passes lie detector test over savage killing

A man who served 36 years in jail for the savage murder of a betting shop manager has passed a new type of lie detector test while being questioned over his guilt.

Ray Gilbert, then 22, was convicted of stabbing John Suffield Junior 19 times at a Coral Racing Shop in Liverpool in what was believed to have been a botched robbery in 1981.

He maintained his innocence even though his refusal to confess to a Parole Board cost him an extra 20 years in prison, before his eventual release in 2016.

After being freed, the now 63-year-old is determined to clear his name and lose the stigma of being a convicted killer.

His biggest hurdle is a confession he made to detectives during his police interviews in 1981 – which he claims was false and given under duress – and the fact he pleaded guilty part-way through a trial, both of which proved fatal for his later appeal efforts.

Mr Gilbert and his co-accused, John Kamara, were both sentenced to life despite no forensic evidence linking either of them to the scene – and Mr Kamara was acquitted in 2000 by judges at the Court of Appeal after 19 years in prison.

In recent weeks Mr Gilbert enlisted the help of a company providing a relatively new type of lie detector test called Eye Detect – which used a computer programme to monitor tiny movements in the eyes to test if someone is being truthful.

Mr Gilbert passed the test with a 100% score, and operator Terry Mullins, director of the company Integrity Assured, said: “If you are asking me did Ray walk into the betting shop and stab the victim 19 times? No, he did not.”

Now nearing pension age, Mr Gilbert hopes the test results as well as evidence around his mental state at the time of the confession will be enough for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to re-open the case and refer it back to the Court of Appeal.

Describing how an acquittal would affect him, he said: “It would mean I could marry my partner, it would be the best feeling in the world.

“I would be able to get my life back.”

Mr Gilbert said the 36 years he served inside were difficult, and life had changed beyond recognition when he was finally granted parole.

He said: “It was hard. In the end when you are in prison and you have not done the crime it’s difficult to accept. I was sending probably 50 letters to people every weekend about my case.

“I could have been released in 1996 if I had confessed but I have never ever given up on my case.”

Speaking about his 2016 release on life-licence, he said: “Most things had changed. Traffic had changed, L8 had changed, there were no nightclubs there any more, and the community was more fractious.

“Shopping was different, I had to get used to banking. Getting used to lots of people around you which I didn’t like as I have issues with trust.

“Now if I am out and there are too many people around I just go home.”

Mr Gilbert said he left the area as “some people felt uncomfortable around me and and felt uncomfortable around them.”

Polygraph tests are not admissible as evidence in criminal courts in the UK due to questions about their accuracy.

Eye detect, as a relatively new technology, has yet to be tested in a court case but Mr Gilbert hopes it will add to his chances of his conviction being re-examined.

In Mr Gilbert’s case, the 30 questions he answered were all honest – including “I did not stab the manager of Coral’s on the 13th March 1981” and “I am not guilty of stabbing the manager of Coral’s on the 13th March 1981.”

Solicitor Maslen Merchant, of law firm Hadgkiss Hughes & Beale, previously said he is representing Mr Gilbert and working on the case with a view to appeal.