Cold Case Murder Conviction Secured

FVS Experts Have Helped To Convict The Killer Of Michelle Gunshon In Eight-Year-Old Cold Case.

The case goes back to 2004, when Michelle — then 38 and a security guard at Birmingham NEC — booked into a hotel in Birmingham. When Michelle arrived at the hotel it was flooded due to a burst pipe, so she was asked to go and stay in a pub nearby called The Dubliner.

The next morning her colleagues noticed she was missing, and when they entered her room they found her clothes and personal belongings, including her wallet, were still there.

Grainy VHS CCTV showed one person, who was thought to be Michelle, walking towards her car.

Her car was found abandoned two days later. Forensics showed unknown semen on the driver’s seat. A check of the DNA database was negative and a campaign on Crimewatch proved unresponsive.

The trail went cold for eight years.

Bill Platts, director of FVS, takes up the story. “In 2012, a senior retired policeman working for West Midlands Police on cold case reviews, had a major breakthrough. DNA from the car revealed that a man called Martin Stafford, who was in prison in Ireland for a string of sexual offences, was a match. At the time of her disappearance Martin was working as a glass collector at the Dubliner, the pub Michelle was staying at in Birmingham.

“The detective asked us at FVS to help enhance the footage and, using a special piece of equipment called a de-multiplexer, we were able to zoom in and review the enlarged footage frame-by-frame.

“This analysis revealed that not one person, but in fact two persons, were walking towards Michelle’s car, one of whom was much taller, explains Bill. “This was a vital breakthrough — as it was previously thought that Michelle walked to her car alone.”

FVS was also asked to analyse the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) imagery of the car. Bill says: “This footage showed that only hours after leaving the hotel the car was driving around Birmingham city centre with 'something in the car' strapped in the passenger seat. A second image taken hours later revealed that the passenger seat was now empty.”

On the strength of this evidence, the jury convicted Martin Stafford and he was jailed for 33 years. Michelle’s body has never been found and Stafford has refused to give a location.