Miscarriages of JusticeUK

Justice for James Cullinane

In December 2009 James was sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 14 years for the murder (which he has always denied) of his friend Stephen Williamson

Brief Outline: On the 15/4/2009, I went to the cash machine on Caldon Road, Irvine at 07:00 hrs and withdrew £200. It was my benefits payments which I had been waiting for as I hadn't received a payment for 3 weeks. I returned to the flat of Stephen Williamson where I had been living for the past 3 or 4 months. I had my own house only 10 minutes walk away, but stayed at Stephen's as I suffered from epileptic seizures and Stephen would keep an eye on me and we could pull our resources during the winter. I loaned Stephen £20 which he went to the Caldon Road shops with to buy cigarettes and bottles of cider. He started to drink the cider at about 08:15. I got washed and ready as I wanted to go into town to the "Iceland" supermarket to stock up on shopping as there was nothing in the house. I was not drinking at this time. I was about to set off at 09:00 when Audrey Hepburn arrived at Stephen's, saying she had just had a big fall out with her partner Alan Mc Dade, who had kicked her out of the house and she had nowhere to go. I was always a bit wary of Audrey as she was a heroin addict and I didn't think it was a coincidence that she arrived on the day I got my benefits. Audrey knew more about my benefits than I did. She had a small back-pack with her which she said she had to hide; as it had her 'kit' in it (I presumed it was drugs). Stephen told her to hide it in the laundry basket in the spare room. I told Audrey I was going into town and she asked me if I would call into the local town court as she was supposed to appear there that morning at 10:30 and she didn't feel well enough to go.

I left to walk into town at about 09:30, a 20 minute walk. I firstly went to the court to pass on Audrey's message where I was told she was supposed to appear but accepted her message and would be in touch with her to arrange another date to appear.

I then went to 'Iceland' which was only about 100 yards from the court. I go there as if you spend £25 or more they will deliver your shopping for nothing, thus enabling me to walk back to Stephen's and saving a taxi fare.

I arrived back at Stephen's not long before the shopping was delivered, between 11:00 and 12:00. Stephen was already starting to show signs of, what I believed was, his drinking. Audrey had been drinking as well, which was surprising as she normally wouldn't drink. After I put the shopping away I had a couple of small glasses of cider but not much. At about 14:00 hrs Gary Mc Murtrie, the son of a close friend of mine, Lil Faddes, arrived. He was well known to the three of us, but especially Audrey as he is a heroin addict as well. He sat and had a couple of drinks, then asked me if I could lend him £10 till the following day, as he needed it to buy food. I told him I would not give him any money as I knew he would use it to buy drugs. I did however tell him he was in luck as I had just been for the shopping and I will give him some things to see him through till tomorrow, which I did.

At about 15:00 hrs, Stephen said he was going to need more cider, and would I go to the shops for him. I wanted to go to the bookies shop on Caldon Road anyway to place a bet on the Champions League football that night as we could watch it on the T.V. that evening. Audrey came with me to the Caldon Road shops, she went in for the cider and I went into the bookies shop next door. Audrey came into the bookies to get me, I had placed my bet for that night's football and had won £8.75 on the dogs. With my winnings I went into another shop and bought some flowers which had been reduced in price, and I thought they would brighten up Stephen's living room.

On the way back from the shops Audrey told me there were some terrible rumours going round about me and Stephen knew the person who had been spreading them, as it was one of his neighbours. Audrey said she would get Stephen to tell me who it was when we got back to the flat, I told her I wasn't particularly bothered as I don't listen to gossip.

When we got back to the flat Stephen and Gary had carried on drinking, Stephen was pretty well drunk by this time. We sat for a while before Audrey finally started insisting that Stephen tell me who this neighbour was, even though I said it didn't matter. She eventually bullied Stephen into telling me it was a guy called lain Gillies who lived a couple of doors away who was responsible. Audrey then insisted that we go and have it out with this neighbour. I didn't want to go and Stephen could hardly walk. Anyway Audrey was determined that we should go and confront this man. I had nothing to hide so to keep the peace, I agreed to go and see him. Audrey and I left the house first followed by Stephen, a minute or so later.

Audrey knocked on the door and Mrs Gillies answered, not at all happy that Audrey was shouting that she wanted to speak to her husband. When this was going on I looked back over to Stephen's flat and saw Gary leaving with the small bag of shopping I had given him. Stephen was leaning against a fence in between where we were and where Gary was. The two women were arguing until lain Gillies came to the door, I thought I didn't know this man but I recognised him as someone I knew from many years ago. What I remembered of him, was he was a quiet chap who was never any trouble. Audrey went back to the flat and I spoke to lain briefly to tell him I'm sorry for any trouble and as far as I was concerned it was nothing to bother with and the matter was over with.

When I was still at the Gillies door, Audrey came running out of Stephen's flat shouting angrily "The bastards took everything" or words to that effect, witnessed by the Gillies'. I left the Gillies' to go and see what the problem was now, I passed Stephen who was walking toward the Gillies', crying saying he was sorry. I got back to Stephen's flat and Audrey was livid, saying Gary had taken her stuff. She was bawling and shouting going crazy. Stephen returned and she started shouting at him. I just went in to the kitchen out of the way as I didn't want involved in any more carryon. I simply lent on the sink and stared at the kitchen window. I could hear Audrey opening and shutting drawers and cupboards all over the flat and generally going ballistic. This went on for quite a while and I could hear Audrey and Stephen arguing in the living room.

Then suddenly it all went quiet and a few seconds later I turned round and saw Audrey standing at the kitchen door with a knife in her right hand. Audrey said to me "You say one fuckin' thing about this and you'll get it next". I walked around her and went in to the living room where I found Stephen lying face up on the living room floor. I went over to him and I could see some blood on the front of his T-shirt. I lifted his T-shirt and I could see what appeared to be an injury to his chest. I knew I had to get him help right away. As none of us had a mobile telephone, I could only think of going back to the Gillies' to ask them to call an ambulance, which I did. I returned to the flat right away, I didn't see Audrey again as I went straight into the living room to try and do what I could to help Stephen. He was still alive, he was breathing and gargling so I tried putting him into the recovery position, I didn't know what else to do. Both the Gillies' came to the door and I asked them to come and see if there was anything they could do to help. They both witnessed and confirmed that Stephen was still alive.

A few minutes later the police and ambulance arrived and took over. A policeman took me in to the kitchen and asked me what had happened. I was in a state of shock, I couldn't do anything more to help Stephen and I remembered what Audrey had said to me what would happen if I said anything. Audrey is friendly with all the local heavy villains in the area, indeed her partner Alan Mc Dade is a well known "hard man". So I told the policeman I had nipped out to the shops for a few minutes, leaving Audrey and Stephen on their own. When I returned I found Stephen alone on the living room floor and got him help. I thought Stephen was still alive and he would be able to tell the police what had happened.

I was taken to Saltcoats police station and interviewed but I just told them I didn't know anything.

I couldn't do any more for Stephen and I was thinking about my own situation as I took Audrey's threats very serious.

It took the police 3 hours to get a hold of Audrey, even though her house is only 10 minutes walk away. Audrey is well known to the police and they were at her door regularly trying to get hold of her. Audrey had went to a friend of her's house, Brinley Kerr, where she supposedly sat for 3 hours without mentioning a thing about what had just happened, or indeed tried to get any help. When the police eventually got a hold of her at her house (Alan Mc Dade's), she answered the door in her pyjamas, even though she had only been in the house for a couple of minutes. When Audrey answered the door she said "I've been expecting the CID to come for me about this".

When interviewed at the police station she apparently told the police she saw me stab Stephen in the back. When she witnessed this she then said that left the room to go and look for her child's Rangers bedclothes. When Audrey returned to the living room she said she saw Stephen had been stabbed in the chest and a knife was lying beside him on the floor. Audrey said she then picked up the knife with a hair scrunchie and took it into the kitchen and placed it in the sink, then left the flat.

D.S. Dempster told me after Audrey had given her statement if I don't tell him it was her who stabbed Stephen I would be charged with Stephen's murder. I told them they can't do that as there could not be any proof it was me as I had not done anything. To which he replied that "he was the police and he would go out and get the evidence needed to prove it was me".

The police interviewed Gary Mc Murtrie early the next morning and he told the police exactly what he knew, which was just as I had previously told them. Two weeks later Gary Mc Murtrie after speaking to Audrey Hepburn gave a second statement to the police saying that he had seen me putting a wooden handled knife down the back of my trousers before going to the Gillies' house. This statement became the corroborative evidence the police required. When asked in court why he had not mentioned this in his first statement he replied "I don't know, I must have not remembered". .

The only evidence against me was from two heroin addicts who constantly contradicted one another in court and forensic evidence which was only contact bloodstaining from when I was trying to help Stephen.

Amazingly Audrey Hepburn was given immunity from prosecution, even though I eventually named her as the person responsible for Stephen's murder. In my initial statement I did not tell the police Audrey was responsible, that was for my own safety, but I did say that it was not me who attacked Stephen. As Audrey was the only other person there she should have been treated as a suspect.

The most damning "evidence" put to the jury, was four other charges, all which involved me using extreme violence toward Stephen. One even said I had previously stabbed him in the leg. I was only ever charged with one of these offences and only became aware of the other three when I received my citation.

All of these charges were introduced by the prosecution and the jury heard days of "evidence" regarding this violence, which portrayed me as having a dark and violent character. The only criminal record I have was a "breach of the peace" and I have no violent history of any kind. At the end of the trial and without any defence being made against these charges the prosecutor for no apparent reason withdrew the four charges and the judge acquitted me on all four of these charges. The judge instructed the jury to ignore all the "evidence" put to them involved in these four charges. The desired damage the advocate depute sought had already been done.

However even after the judges instruction the advocate depute continually referred to these charges in his closing speech, thus I feel reinforcing this character assassination on me to the jury.

I find it quite outstanding and frightening that despite the lack of any reliable, credible or forensic evidence the jury still returned a unanimous guilty verdict.

My submission to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC ) was refused at the end of March 2012.

James Cullinene
Cantrell Road,