Body of Proof is a true crime podcast from Audible, which investigates the murder of Edinburgh woman, Suzanne Pilley, and the conviction of her married lover, David Gilroy. From the beginning of the podcast it focuses on David and his conviction, asking uncomfortable questions which focus mainly on a lack of forensic evidence and the fact Suzanne’s body has never been found.
There is a belief that if there is no body you cannot be charged with murder. This however is a myth. While unusual, it can and does happen. It is probably the worst kind of murder, if it is possible to rank such a thing, as families and loved ones are left with a host of unanswered questions and without the comfort of laying their loved one to rest.
Journalists Sophie Ellis and Darell Brown delve into the murder and its investigation. I have to admit that at first it did appear to me ashough no one else could have committed it. Suzanne was last seen just yards from her work, and she was having an on again, off again affair with married father David, who appears to have a controlling streak, sending her more than 50 texts a day. You don’t have to be far into your true crime obsession to know that the husband or boyfriend almost always has done it, and the more controlling they are, the more likely.
However as we dive further into the investigation and look at what is actually available as proof it becomes more and more evident that forensically there was little to back up the theory of Gillroy as the murderer, for instance if he had murdered her in the office, there is absolutely no evidence, and working on principle of every contact leaves a trace, it does corrupt the foundation of any theory that he killed Suzanne there. If she wasn’t killed there, and she never arrived, what exactly happened?
This is why this podcast felt uncomfortable to me. There is no other plausable explanation, but the forensics’ don’t back up the conviction of the man in jail. Finishing the podcast felt to me like the time me and my wee brother, who is only eighteen months younger than me, both got on a see-saw, but as we were the same weight, it didn’t move at all. No seeing, no sawing, just sitting there awkwardly in the middle, and our feet were too far off the ground, so we had to sit waiting for a grown-up to come along and help.
There was, I felt a missing piece of the puzzle, the grown-up we needed to give the see-saw a shove, and that is some forensic psychology. Gillroy’s family paint him as a lovely man, and I am sure he is to them, but all Gillroy’s ex-colleagues are convinced he did it so what side of them did they see that we don’t know about? I keep going back to those 50 texts a day – they really speak of a much deeper insecurity, obsession and need to control than we are ever shown. In his interactions with journalists he obviously has invested interested and these interactions can’t necessarily be taken as proof of his deeper psychology. It’s disappointing, but maybe not surprising in a country where intimate partner violence is not considered remarkable but rather part of the course, that the journalists don’t investigate more if Gillroy was in fact an abusive partner to Suzanne, or abusive to anyone else. I had thought that the biggest question of the podcast would be surrounding the whereabouts of Suzanne’s remains, but instead it’s more about which parts of himself Gillroy has buried alongside her.