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‘I never gave up hope’ – taxi driver David Butler acquitted of Anne Marie Foy murder speaks out

A TAXI driver cleared of the 2005 murder of a Liverpool gran today told how he hopes her family will one day see justice.

David Butler spent an “horrendous” seven months in prison after being charged with killing sex worker Anne Marie Foy before he was acquitted by a jury last week.

Still getting used to being a free man again the frail and terminally-ill 65-year-old Wavertree dad-of-three told the ECHO he rarely gave up hope he would be found innocent but his time in HMP Walton saw him have “dark, dark days” where he contemplated giving it all up.

Mr Butler, who used to combine his time driving Hackney cabs with training young football teams at Mossley Hill Athletics Club, was arrested in November 2010 by the cold case team which re-opened the September 2005 murder of Ms Foy.

Mr Butler was linked to the crime, which saw the 46-year-old mum-of-four – originally from Dovecot but who also lived in Tuebrook and Kensington – battered to death in bushes in the city’s red light district, through a scientific breakthrough in DNA.

 A partial profile found on Ms Foy’s clothing and under her finger nails was “more than a thousand billion times” more likely to be Mr Butler’s than anyone else’s, the prosecution told the Liverpool Crown Court trial last month.

But experts for the defence queried the validity of the findings and attacked the processes used to get them.

The jury deliberated for nearly eleven hours before clearing Mr Butler who suffers from debilitating COPD (a mix of chronic bronchitis and emphysema).

Today he told the ECHO: “Something comes along sometimes which is life-changing but you never see it coming so you are never prepared for it.

“It is difficult to put into words how I feel now.

“The major worry for me was how this would impact on my family, not on me. They are my life. I was never really worried about myself.

“We have to remember there were victims here and we all saw Anne Marie’s family and their reaction afterwards [some quickly left the courtroom in tears] and I didn’t expect anything else.

“No-one should lose their mother in those circumstances and I wish them every success in getting justice. This was another false dawn for them which must have been hard but it has to be the right man and it wasn’t here.”

Mr Butler was charged and, despite his failing health, remanded into custody last June.

He was kept on the “vulnerable prisoner” wing and attacked by another inmate in the mistaken belief he was a sex offender.

Nicknamed Pops by some inmates, he says he spent 23 hours a day in his cell and kept busy by indulging in his passion of pub quizzes for other prisoners and guards.

He said: “There were many times I thought I would never see my family and my grandchildren again. That was very hard. It was the loneliest time of my life.

“I said it in court and I say it again, I am a decent man and being accused of such things was quite repulsive and quite shocking.

“It is hard to describe the enormous relief when the jury came back with their verdict. There was no joy, no jumping up and down, I just looked at them and thanked them.

“I knew I had not done this but when the CPS brings charges you think they must have evidence so you are almost half convicted straight away.

“I had always trusted the justice system that I would be cleared but when the jury were asked if they had a verdict, my knees wobbled and I thought for the first time ‘I could be convicted here’.

 “I didn’t know if I was going back to the heart of my family or back to the cold cell in Walton.

“There was dark, dark days in prison. Days when I thought about stopping the medication and giving up but having people saying they believe in you, like my family and my legal team, strengthened my resolve and it would have been wrong to do so.”

Mr Butler said he has his legal team at Cobleys Solicitors, particularly his lawyer Paolo Martini, to thank for his freedom.

He added: “Cobleys and Paolo battled to have evidence looked at again and all the prosecution were left with was this fragile DNA and I thought the CPS would look and reconsider the charge but they didn’t.

“I felt the police had it cemented in their minds they had their man and wouldn’t be moved from that. They put two-and-two together and came up with 98.

“The police believed they had a bone-fide suspect but I feel had they been a bit more robust with their investigations in the five-and-a-half years it would not have got to this stage.

“The DNA they relied on stopped good policemen doing a good policeman’s job. It was like that was all they needed.

“They could never say it was my DNA. They talked in probabilities but you cannot put a probability on a man’s life.

“Without Cobleys I don’t think I would be sat here today.”

Mr Martini said: “I felt sorry for the Foy family because I felt they may have been led up the garden path a bit as to the quality of the evidence against David.

“Once I was in possession of the totality of the evidence I told David that he must believe he would be acquitted. It is not often a lawyer in my position is able to say that with such confidence to his client.

“And in the cold winter in Walton prison people close to David thought he wouldn’t make it to the trial.

“But I told him he had to stay alive to have his day in court.”

Since his incarceration Mr Butler has seen debts from the bank and credit card companies pile up and has lost his home where he spent all adult life and which was next door to the house where he grew up.

He was released from the cells at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday evening and taken to the pub by his family for celebrations that lasted until the early hours.

The one thing he has kept from his time inside is a “congratulations” card signed by 90-plus inmates that arrived for him two days before the jury actually returned their verdict.

He said: “I woke up at my son’s on Saturday and in that morning slumber wondered if it was all a dream.

“I looked around and it wasn’t and it was a wonderful feeling.

“That was the first day of the rest of my life.

“I know I haven’t got long left but I am going to use it to see my grandchildren grow and spend time with my family.

“I never want to go through anything like that again.”

Ms Foy’s body was found in bushes at the junction of Crown Street and West Derby Street by the University of Liverpool on Thursday September 15, 2005.

Mr Butler was the second man to walk free from court after being accused of her murder.

In 2007 Kevin Kilshaw, from St Helens, had charges against him dropped when his confession to the killing turned out to be fantasy.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: “Merseyside Police notes the decision of the court. The investigation into the murder of Anne Marie Foy remains open and if any new evidence comes to light it will be thoroughly investigated.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/02/15/i-never-gave-up-hope-taxi-driver-david-butler-acquitted-of-anne-marie-foy-murder-speaks-out-100252-30333095/
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