Man convicted of 1980 murder launches appeal

APPEAL Paul Taylor
APPEAL Paul Taylor
Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

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A FAREHAM man sentenced to life imprisonment for raping and murdering a woman more than 30 years ago has launched an appeal against his conviction.

Paul Barry Taylor was jailed for at least 18 years at Chelmsford Crown Court in December last year after being convicted of murdering 22-year-old Sally McGrath - whose body was found in a shallow grave in 1980.

He was also found guilty of three counts of rape, an attempted rape and a serious sexual assault relating to three other women, who were attacked in the months before Miss McGrath’s death.

Taylor, 61, of Valentine Close, Fareham, - who has always maintained his innocence - has challenged his convictions at London’s Criminal Appeal Court.

His lawyers argued that flaws in the trial process rendered the jury’s verdicts ‘unsafe’ and urged top judges to overturn them.

The prosecution case at Taylor’s trial was that he was a ‘sexual predator’ who had committed a series of sex attacks against women and was with Miss McGrath when she was last seen alive at a Peterborough hotel in July 1979.

Her body was found in a shallow grave in woodland at Castor Hanglands, Cambridgeshire, in March 1980.

Orlando Pownall QC, for Taylor, told the Appeal Court the convictions were based largely on circumstantial evidence, supported by witness testimonies that should never have been put before the jury.

But Karim Khalil QC, representing the Crown Prosecution Service, said the time to address such complaints was during the trial and that Taylor had failed to provide answers to certain question marks hanging over the case by declining to give evidence.

Lord Justice Pitchford, Mr Justice Mitting and Judge Peter Collier QC, reserved giving their judgment on the appeal until an unspecified later date.