“Our son did not murder his wife and child- he watched helplessly as his wife turned the gun on herself after shooting her own baby.”
This is the claim of Worksop’s convicted double murderer Neil Entwistle’s father in an exclusive interview with the Guardian this morning (Thursday, January 21).
It comes as the tenth anniversary of the “Entwistle slayings”, which saw Neil’s American wife Rachel and their nine-month-old daughter Lillian shot dead in their Boston home, was marked yesterday.
Neil was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 for their murders and is currently serving time in a medium security prison in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
But along with his wife Yvonne, Bassetlaw councillor Cliff has always protested his son’s innocence, and has identified “glaring holes” in the case with the help of a former detective which he is keen to expose to the world.
“There is no way on God’s Earth that my son would murder his wife and child,” said Cliff. “He was not given a fair trial, key evidence that proves his innocence was swept under the carpet- and people are finally beginning to to realise this.”
The ball is starting to roll the other way now, and it’s taken ten years to get to this point- ten years of waking up and it still being as raw as it ever was.Cliff Entwistle
According to Cliff, and Austrialian detective turned crime author Duncan Mcnab, Neil “had no chance” even before his trial in 2008 had begun.
“A book which portrayed Neil as a cold-blooded killer was given the go ahead to be published on the day of the trial,” Cliff said. “Members of the jury would have seen that book everywhere and, of course, they would have been influenced by it. That just goes to show what kind of environment my son was tried in.”
Other crucial factors, such as Rachel’s state of mind at the time of the killings, as well as the fact that Rachel had gunshot residue on both sides of her hands- also went unnoted by the judge, says Cliff.
“Rachel had post-natal depression,” said Cliff, “and I just don’t understand why this wasn’t brought up in court at all. I remember one occurence when Yvonne and I were speaking to her on the phone and she asked if we had received photos of Lillian from Christmas that she had posted over. When we replied that we hadn’t, she put the phone down and, according to Neil, ran upstairs sobbing. She had been having problems since Lillian was born. This is what should have been addressed.”
On January 20, 2006, Cliff says that Neil was making was breakfast when he “heard a gunshot and rushed upstairs to find Lillian already dead, before Rachel turned the gun on herself.”
“Inevitably, the finger was pointed at Neil when he got on a plane and rushed home to Worksop,” said Cliff. “But why wouldn’t he have done? Have you ever been through a traumatic incident? The natural instinct is to go home to your family. It would have been the same wherever he was in the world. He didn’t go off running to Bolivia and shack himself up somewhere- he came home because he simply didn’t know what else to do.”
Cliff said that as soon as he saw his son, who then told him what happened, he “knew 100 per cent that he was innocent.”
“He was in a state of shock,” added Cliff. “We all were, and I telephoned Rachel’s parents immediately.”
Cliff criticised the British Government, who he said ignored the family’s requests for legal assistance, instead turning them straight over to the American Embassy.
“We had nobody,” said Cliff. “We received help from our own Government at all. And in America it was easy for them to jump to the conclusion that this British man had killed his family before hopping on a plane back to England. Imagine being alone in a situation like that- what do you do?”
Duncan Mcnab, who has been working with Cliff and Yvonne, is now hoping to publish a book on the “reasonable doubt” surrounding their son’s conviction- and Cliff says that this “finally gives some hope” to the Entwistle family.
“The incredible support we have had from the people of Worksop, and also countless Americans, has got us this far,” said Cliff.
“But the ball is starting to roll the other way now, and it’s taken ten years to get to this point. Ten years of waking up and it still being as raw as it ever was.”
“We won’t stop until we have a re-trial. We will continue to stand by the fact that our son is completely innocent.”
Yvonne, who also spoke to the Guardian, said she and Cliff fly over to America once a year to visit their son.
She added: “Not a day goes by where we don’t think of Neil, or of our granddaughter, Lillian.”
“I miss them every day. Every birthday and Christmas goes by and all I feel is emptiness. But I will never give up fighting.”