Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Gary Walker: ex-police officer freed after retrial over 2003 death of girlfriend

An undated police handout photograph of Gary Walker

A former police officer who spent more than 17 years in prison after being convicted of killing his pregnant partner has been freed after being found not guilty at a retrial.

Gary Walker, now 57, was sentenced to life imprisonment in October 2004 for murdering Audra Bancroft at their home near Burton upon Trent. After a retrial at Warwick crown court, Mr Justice Holgate QC agreed with a submission by Walker’s barrister, David Emanuel QC, that there was no case to answer.

The retrial heard evidence that Bancroft, 36, died as a result of a paramedic moving her from the recovery position on to her back and propping her head up, where she stayed for five hours, leading to positional asphyxia.

The ruling was challenged by the prosecutor, Rachel Brand QC, but after a hearing at the court of appeal on Friday, it was upheld.

Walker was found guilty and sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison after the prosecution alleged he had strangled Bancroft on 8 December 2003 shortly after finding out she had accrued £4,000 in debt on a credit card.

He has continually maintained his innocence.

During the retrial it was alleged Walker had met Bancroft on a street as he was returning from a night shift at Avonmouth police station, where he assaulted her before “frog-marching” the mother-of-three back to their home in Shipley Close, Branston.

“Witnesses who lived in Shipley Close heard voices in the street, and on looking out of their windows they saw the defendant propelling Audra Bancroft along, holding on to her with his hand under her armpit, almost dragging her along,” Brand told jurors. “We say that he continued to assault her when he got her home.”

Brand told the court that immediately after the incident, Walker suggested Bancroft’s ex-husband “might have been responsible” for her injuries and told people he had found her already injured in the street.

The prosecution also alleged Walker “staged calls” and left voice messages on Bancroft’s phone to make it appear as if the couple were not together.

One of two paramedics Walker called to the address said Bancroft had bruising to her face, a lump on her forehead and an injury to her lip. Her condition deteriorated and she went into cardiac arrest at about 8am and died an hour later in hospital.

Walker claimed the injuries had been caused as he defended himself when Bancroft “went for him with a potato peeler”.

A retrial was ordered in January after the court of appeal overturned the original conviction as unsafe.

Holgate told the jury the prosecution would have to establish Walker had intended to kill Bancroft or to cause her serious injury, and that such injuries were “a substantial and operating cause of her death”.

“I decided that on one critical issue, namely causation, no jury could be sure that the prosecution had proved its case to the standard of proof required in a criminal trial,” he said.

“For that reason, the issue of causation could not, as a matter of law, be left to the jury to decide, and so Mr Walker had to be acquitted of both murder and manslaughter.”

Source: (The Guardian)

[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]