All of the factual information provided here has been taken solely from the summing up by the trial judge Mr Justice Hidden made between 27th October and 2nd November 2000. It was apparent that Mr Justice Hidden was quite unwell and he made many factual errors in his summing up which is almost certain to have affected the juries view of the case. We make no apology for the content of the following text as it was what the jury were given before considering their verdict. Any comments or opinions are entirely those of David Ferguson and his campaign team.
The evidence adduced at trial can be summarised between that brought by both the prosecution and the defence. We deal with each in order and then we make a few observations based on them
Although the prosecution relied on a number of points of evidence to show that Dave was Susan Kent's murderer, only the DNA evidence was capable of possibly placing Dave at the murder scene; the rest of it was, at best circumstantial and at worst, scraping the barrel. The judge, Mr Justice Hidden, couldn't mention the time of death of Susan Kent during his summing up to the jury because pathologist Dr Rouse's report didn't contain this vitally important fact. In fact Dr Rouse's pathology testimony and Mr Chapman's DNA evidence combined comprised just 17 of the 225 pages of the judges summing up.
The trial and the judges summing up:-
The prosecution called evidence covering the following points:-
Dave's defence was primarily one of alibi and, in addition, that there was other evidence to show that Susan had been in possession of a pair of handcuffs, there was a sighting of a red car on Susan's driveway around the time that Susan was murdered and an incident at the Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre the previous September involving a man in a red car.
The defence evidence was called in the following order.
Observations on the evidence.
At the start of the trial Justice Hidden felt the need to issue a special direction to the jury that they must deliberate the charge of murder only and not allow any issues regarding Dave's sexual preferences or practices to bias their verdict.
Right from the outset this was blatantly ignored by the prosecution. Their opening speech, lasting in excess of two hours, openly concentrated on Dave's sexual preferences and practices. Throughout the entire trial the prosecution took every possible opportunity to return to the subject.
The trial was held at Maidstone Crown Court, in an area close to where Susan Kent lived and was murdered. The jury, which consisted of two men and ten women, were able to return home each night. The trial was reported on television and in the local newspapers. The media reports were based almost entirely on the prosecutions obsession with Dave's sex life which painted him in a very negative light. It is highly inconceivable that the jury members were immune from being influenced by what they may have seen on television or in the newspapers, despite the judge's instructions for them to not be influenced by media reports. Yet on three occasions jurors brought local newspapers into the court room.
Quite noticeable was one of the male jurors, who spent considerable periods of time concentrating on everything but the evidence that was being presented. Also, towards the end of the trial, it was discovered, that contrary to court room rules, a juror had a switched on mobile phone. It actually rang and the judge asked for it to be turned off but he didn't take any further action against the phone's owner.
At the commencement of his summing up, Justice Hidden was taken ill and had to be asked to vacate the chair by the clerk of the court. The judge was unable to form words let alone complete a coherent sentence. Proceedings were subsequently abandoned for the day and Dave was initially told that the judge had suffered a suspected stroke. We believe that, at that point, the trial should have been halted and a re-trial ordered.
However, the following day, Justice Hidden again took the chair and, claiming to be in good heath, continued with his summing up. During the entire procedure his speech was slurred, he mispronounced words and became utterly confused with the evidence. On occasion he stopped speaking, would refer to his notes several times and then continue, often going over the same evidence but giving alternate events on each occasion.
It was on this note that the jury was left to consider its verdict.
It is questionable whether Justice Hidden was in a suitable state of health to conduct Dave's trial. Even at the start of the trial proceedings had to be suspended after he was taken ill. Throughout the whole trial he often asked for things to be repeated as he had not heard them. There were many occasions when Justice Hidden's speech was slurred or not fully comprehensible.
We believe that Justice Hidden was severely affected by ill health throughout the trial and that on the first day of his summing up he suffered a minor stroke. Due to his demeanour, upon returning the following day, we feel quite certain the he should have withdrawn from the trial.
The only piece of evidence the Crown had which could possibly place Dave at the murder scene was a partial DNA profile.
THe referential DNA profile for Susan had been obtained from blood extracted at the post mortem. Dave's referential profile had been obtained from a buccal (cheek scrape) swab and, allegedly, a head hair (actually an arm hair) on his arrest which, unsurprisingly, matched each other. Astonishingly though and against all the protocols set up to protect the integrity of DNA evidence, DC Phillip Causer took the buccal swab home with him, only placing it in the police refrigerator the following morning.
The DNA evidence-in-chief was given by Raymond Chapman of the Forensic Science Service (FSS). He said that the samples DAR/6 and DAR/8, respectively the external anal and external vaginal swabs from Susan's body, contained a trace of semen. In fact each had 1 sperm head but he said that there may have been more in the rest of the sample.
When cross-examined, Mr Chapman revealed that none of the swabs taken from the internal anal or vaginal areas showed semen. Nor did they display any DNA which could be attributed to Dave. He went on to add that only one tenth of the external swabs had been tested for semen and that more sperm might exist but he couldn't be sure. He then informed the court that the maximum time semen could be detected after intercourse was 7 days.
Chapman combined both DAR/6 and DAR/8 samples and tested them for DNA. The result was a mixed sample of at least 2 persons. Some matched Susan and the remainder, bar one, matched Dave. Mr Chapman confidently stated that a random match probability of the DNA coming from some other person, unrelated to David Ferguson, was 1 billion to 1. The results led Mr Chapman to say that it gave extremely strong support that the DNA came from David Ferguson rather than any unrelated person.
As to the source of the DNA Mr Chapman was less certain, although he plumped for semen as sperm heads had been observed on the slides prepared from the separate samples. Otherwise he said it could have likely come from a substantial amount of saliva.
A pair of boots belonging to Dave were recovered from his home. Chapman was unsure how Susan's blood had come to be on them but admitted that it could have resulted from blood hitting a hard surface and splashing back on to the boots. In fact this was dealt with, with the agreement of all parties, during Dave's own testimony.
Chapman gave a random match probability for the DNA found on the handcuffs that bound Susan's wrists of 1 in 4 against being from someone unrelated to Dave. The major profile matched Susan. Some of the minor components matched David and some others didn't.
The issue of DNA transfer was discussed, both direct and indirect. Mr Chapman said that the washing of a material would most likely remove any DNA on it. He went on to say that DNA sticks more readily to surfaces when wet rather than dry. Semen may adhere to material indefinitely if the material is not washed. Mr Chapman went on to add that it was not possible to say if saliva was present and that, actually, saliva was a poor source of DNA when compared to semen. In fact saliva from oral sex never produces a profile due to the vaginal secretions swamping it. Any saliva on a soft toy, for instance, was unlikely to have been transferred to Susan's body. The defence explored this very avenue when Dave gave evidence himself. He had given Susan a number of presents including soft toys.
The DNA evidence doesn't really seem to add up to much when examined more closely. If the assailant was trying to avoid leaving DNA traces of himself then he has made a poor attempt according to the results of the DAR/6 and DAR/8 tests. Bar the handcuffs, there is no other DNA or forensic evidence relied on by the Crown; so that means that no other evidence pointing to Dave as the perpetrator was found at the crime scene. It is even admitted by the Crown's own witness that DNA on the handcuffs has come from someone other than Dave.
If semen can survive for a maximum of 7 days and transfer is most effective when wet then that raises another question. Why didn't the internal swabs show any sign of sperm? The only reasonable explanations for its presence is that either Susan had had unprotected sex with some unknown man up to a week earlier or Dave's naked penis touched Susan's intimate parts. Yet, if the DNA attributed to Dave was from sperm or saliva from him, then why wasn't any more found at the scene and why wasn't any DNA from sweat, skin cells etc. detected? Modern DNA testing techniques are capable of obtaining profiles from as little as a cell or two.
The only problem facing the defence (and probably explains why they didn't bring an expert to counter the evidence) was the presence of DNA markers that matched Dave's profile so precisely. It took another 2 years or so to discover why that could have been so...
Dave had had a telephone line installed on 18th November 1999 and immediately signed up with AOL as his ISP. He visited websites relating to mountain biking, martial arts and, unsurprisingly for a lot of men (and women too, one supposes), pornographic sites.
His computer was seized on the 13th December 1999, the day after his arrest. The forensic computer evidence was given by Christopher Crute, a civilian employed by Kent police. Searches for certain words were undertaken over the next few days. The words included rape, Susan Kent, true man, torture, tattoo terror, kill, murder, bondage, lestat and so on. Other words were also searched such as police, forensic evidence and DNA. True man was found 49 times and DNA, 1747. He said that web pages were stored on the hard drive and could be overwritten in time if deleted. Data could still be recovered even if the files have been deleted but not overwritten.
The prosecution made claims that Dave had sent emails to a number of women using titles such as 'raping you' and 'stalking you' among other things. Traces of visits to a fetish website, LouisCypher.com, were found. The main page contained the words true man and raping. Mr Crute found one entry which mentions true man, rape and attacking a female acquaintance which Crute couldn't say that Dave had sent or not. Crute acknowledged that although the material was on Dave's computer hard drive it didn't mean he had downloaded it himself or that he had actually read it.
Mr Crute's work, including his EnCase report and the phone logs, was validated by Dr Barrett, an expert in computer crime and analysis of computer evidence for 15 years. He also lectured at police colleges. He began by explaining the notion of files and how they are stored, deleted and overwritten, a process called churning. Internet activity is difficult to gauge and it is not possible to say for certain what the user is doing.
He compared recovered files to the phone bill. Only fragments of files were recovered from between the 23rd and 25th November but sites concerning mountain biking, e-commerce and internet business and pornography were identifiable. Their internet activity had been admitted in evidence by Dave's lodger Paul Smith and his long standing friend John Archenoul.
One resultant search fragment for the text 'true man' allegedly turned up text that read 'within 8 hours he would be a true man'. The fragment was alleged to have been written in the early hours of 24th November 1999 because it was placed between 2 files dated 21st November and 3rd December.
Dr Barrett said the lifecycle of a file would be anywhere between 1 minute and a maximum of 2 weeks. He went on to add that extensive internet use would delete files within minutes if not days. Dave's machine had not been configured so had the default maximum of 2 weeks for keeping internet files before deletion.
Again there is not much credence that can be placed on the reliability of the Crown's claims of Dave's use of the internet for nefarious purposes. Firstly, what kind of murderer would publicise their intention to kill someone later that day across the internet and then not destroy the computer on which all of this was done from?
Secondly, there is no evidence Dave sent the 'true man' message. It could, quite likely, have been from a guest book message page sent by someone else. The Crown could not prove any different but tried hard to do so.
Much internet activity is fleeting as a person moves from page to page. These pages are stored nonetheless, along side everything else one has visited, with no prejudice or ranking as to time spent looking at each one bar the last time accessed, as explained by Dr Barrett in his evidence. Again further discoveries later would render much of this evidence completely useless.
Much was made by the Crown of the fact that many of Dave's friends and acquaintances gave evidence that they had seen a knife, similar to the one entered in evidence as exhibit 4B, in Dave's possession or in his house.
For starters the murder weapon had never actually been found and believe it or not, exhibit 4B was a knife and sheath that had been bought in the Hobby Shop in Dover by DC Phillip Causer just after Dave's arrest. It was then shown to Dr Rouse who agreed that it could have inflicted the wounds that killed Susan Kent.
Exhibit 4E was another knife and sheath bought by DC Causer from Mark Bayford, a trader in Essex on 21st December.
So we have 2 knives, bought by the police, that may or may not be exactly like the murder weapon being compared to ones seen by Dave's friends. Dave, in his evidence said he had a knife that he lost at work before Susan's murder when he was working on pallets on a truck bound for Germany. Dave's friend Russell Hollands said he had seen Dave with a survival knife some 7 or 8 years ago when Dave worked at McKays printers.
It would be hard for one to calculate the number of 3 to 5 inch bladed knives with serrated edges that there are in circulation in the UK. But one thing is for certain is that these darn things are not like hen's teeth. Beside, the bald fact of the matter is that Dave would find it very difficult to carry out his job in the book binding and printing industry without a decent knife to hand.
On the 16th December, Rochester based CSI Malcolm White found, in the kitchen bin in Dave's house, the scabbard to a knife. He also found a knife in a black holdall bag on the kitchen floor.
Obviously if one had committed murder and wanted to dispose of incriminating evidence then one would be somewhat foolish to dispose of it in your own waste bin, knowing full well that the police were going to interview you further and search the premises.
Even so, the scabbard could not be matched with a particular knife, as the murder weapon was never found. The knife in the holdall plainly had nothing to do with the murder. This kind of evidence is indicative of the prosecution scraping the bottom of a very empty barrel.
The handcuffs found at the scene were entered into the trial as exhibit 13C. They had been removed from Susan's wrists by a locksmith who had filed down a key to open them. They were further dismantled (actually they were physically forced apart) for forensic examination. In the process the half that took the key had become distorted. DC Phillip Causer who had also bought the 2 knives for exhibition purposes also procured a pair of handcuffs from the Sergeants Mess Army Supplies shop in Chatham that was owned by Len Shillito. These became exhibit 13E. The prosecution made much from the fact that guests at a Halloween party at 106 Port Rise on 31st October 1998 and on John Archenoul's stag night, in May 1999 had seen various individuals brandishing handcuffs.
It is a well worn cliche to find the bridegroom handcuffed to a lamppost after a stag do. So all of this adds up to very little except that handcuffs are very popular at stag nights and among the general populace for adult fun.
Exhibit 13B was a small key that had been discovered, by police, in Dave's car. The original handcuffs and the handcuffs bought by DC Causer were different but both could be opened by the key from Dave's car. Although the police's forensic expert dealing with the handcuffs, David Saunie, concluded that the key would have opened the handcuffs before they were dismantled and distorted, he was not concerned that the lock of the original handcuffs and Dave's key didn't have matching marks, which meant that they did not belong together. Further, a key from handcuffs belonging to a friend of Dave's didn't fit the original handcuffs and Dave's key didn't fit his friends handcuffs.
The fundamental fact of all this handcuff evidence is that some handcuff keys open a lot of different handcuffs. Although the key found in Dave's car were able to open the handcuffs from the murder scene they were clearly not a matching pair as the marks on lock and key did not correspond. Also, Dave's key was capable of opening a completely different pair, ironicly bought by the police.
A pair of 10 denier black stockings were seized from 106 Port Rise on 13th December by CSI Malcolm White. They were on shelves just below the computer in Dave's bedroom.
Due to the fact that Susan had been found wearing black stockings, 2 of Dave's former girlfriends gave prosecution witness evidence that he liked his girlfriends to wear stockings and suspenders during sex. The prosecution had to accept though that the stockings were totally different in make and design.
Dave, during his evidence, said that he believed that the stockings had belonged to Katriona and had been left behind by her when she moved out on 1st April 1999.
The stockings were plainly irrelevant and was a new low in the barrel scraping by the Crown.
DC Richard Tolhurst went to Dave's house on 12th December 1999 and performed a search. Coupled with the pornographic material he found and the manner of Susan's death he arrested Dave on suspicion of Susan's murder.
Among Dave's coterie of friends and acquaintances it was well known that he liked pornography and had a very strong interest in fetishistic sex along the lines of bondage, BDSM and forced fantasy sexual role playing. In fact Dave and a few friends had already made a fetish video with a girl called Dawn Rainsford. In it Dawn had hot wax dripped onto her breasts. This was accepted by all the participants as being completely consensual and nothing more than adult fun.
It was also no secret, among his friends, that Dave owned a great deal of pornographic material such as magazines, books and videos. Also, Dave is a very talented artist and had made a number of sexually explicit drawings. He also had a number of photographs he had taken of former girlfriends in fetish type poses.
Two former girlfriends, Shani Bedding and Katriona Young gave evidence for the prosecution that after an initial bout of normal sex Dave had insisted on bondage and fetish in the bedroom. Both of them though when cross examined said that they perhaps regretted some things but that they had entered into everything with full consent and that they were both still fond of him.
It was perhaps this aspect of the Crown's case which along with the lurid headlines of the local press, that damaged Dave's case more than anything else. So much time was expended in the judges summing up on the subject of Dave's sex life one began to feel that kinky sex in the Medway towns was the discovery of the age.
Exhibit 11, a pair of Caterpillar boots, were removed from Dave's house on the 16th December 1999 by CSI Malcolm White. Forensic tests showed that there were a number of small spots of blood which was accepted by all parties as being the blood of Susan Kent. Mr Chapman couldn't explain how it had got there but agreed it could have been from blood splashing back after hitting a hard surface.
No one who knew Dave testified that they had seen him wearing those boots after the weekend before Susan's murder when Dave had worn them to a mountain bike racing meet at Crowthorne Valley. They were by then very muddy, from Dave walking parts of the course, and had been placed under the stairs.
Susan Kent visited Dave's house several times when they were seeing each other, invariably at mid-morning time before Susan's work began. During one visit, in summer 1999, Susan had been preparing some vegetables for lunch when she cut one of the fingers on her left hand. The boots were on the kitchen floor near the patio doors. Susan shook her hand and blood went onto the worktop, the freezer and the floor. She rinsed it under the tap and put on a plaster. John Archenoul testified that he had seen the blood later that day after Susan had left.
For the forensic scientists to get access to Susan's blood spots they would have had to scrap away a fair amount of mud from the boots. Besides, Chapman himself admitted that the blood spots would most likely have been created by blood hitting a hard surface; the floor of Susan's bedroom was carpeted. It is quite obvious that this piece of Crown evidence had absolutely nothing to do with Susan's death yet was examined at trial.
It is true that Dave relied on the following in his defence and didn't mention them when under caution and being interviewed by the police. He parked outside the GP's surgery, his use of Mill Road to go to a secondhand garage and the Maritime College and lastly his route into Gillingham.
The prosecution said that Dave, under caution, would have mentioned all of these things then. The judge directed the jury to decide themselves if they thought that it was reasonable to have expected Dave to have mentioned them then.
Dave had admitted in evidence that his memory was sketchy for that day. In our view this is just legal nitpicking by the prosecution to try to fluff up their nonexistent case. If they had had the slightest shred of decent evidence, it is unlikely that this would not have even been mentioned.
The prosecution allege that Dave had lied to the police regarding 3 areas of questioning in his statements. The first concerned his movements that day, including the time he left home, his movements in Chatham and his route to Gillingham and back. The second was that he lied about possessing the handcuff key, the latex gloves and the black stockings. Lastly they say he lied about the time he went to bed on the evening on the 23rd November.
According to Dave's own evidence he didn't remember much about that day. He was on strong painkillers for his kidney complaint and the pain was keeping him awake at nights. He explicitly didn't recall having been to the chemists or returning with a white chemists bag, although both Paul Smith and John Archenoul recall Dave having the bag in his hand on arriving home.
The timing of Dave leaving his house relies largely on Dave's father Ronald and Dave's lodger Paul Smith. Mr Smith, in his many statements to the police said that Mr Ferguson knocked at exactly 10:32 and that Dave and his father left around 11am. Mr Ferguson could not have arrived at Dave's house before close to 11am as he had had just left a garage after 10:45. Dave's father put the time of leaving Dave's house much later than Mr Smith, perhaps as late as 11:45.
Mr Ferguson was certain he went to the chemists after leaving Dave's house The prescription he picked up for his wife Sheila had the date as 24th November 1999 but had no time on it. On the 14th December 1999 the police visited the chemists shop and the pharmacist Mr Sahawan told them he had changed his computer on the 8th December because of the threat of the millennium bug. The old computers clock was running 45 minutes fast. The time of the prescription was shown as being 11:51 which would mean it should have been 11:05, based on the current time being 45 minutes fast.
Dave said that he had parked in the Sir John Hawkins car park but later accepted that he had been mistaken because of the CCTV cameras not picking up his car. The CCTV first shows his car at 12:36 and lastly at 14:07, in Gillingham, where he parks in the Marlborough Road car park for 90 minutes. He is not seen on any other CCTV cameras that day.
Dave accepted that he had in his possession the handcuff key and the black stockings. How could he not do so as the police had gotten them form his car and bedroom respectively? He had said that the latex gloves were used for doing work on his bicycles to prevent his hands from getting covered in grease and muck. They had been given to him by a friend.
Dave accepted when giving evidence that he was wrong about the time he went to bed that night. He just didn't remember. It was only when the phone logs were shown it became clear he was logged on the internet as late as 6am on the morning of the 24th November.
Dave began his evidence by denying murdering Susan Kent. He told the court that he had met her towards the end of 1998 at the Casino nightclub in Rochester and before they left he agreed to ring her. They met the next day and remained friends but the relationship was never sexual. They would talk on the phone, go out on Saturday nights and Susan would pop round in the mornings and, at one stage, as many as 2 to 3 times in one week.
The last time she came around to his house was just after Dave had returned from a holiday at the end of June or July 1999. When she came over it would be midmorning, about 10am and she would stay for any time from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Dave believed she had a part-time job at the school near her house which she started at about 11:30 although that depended on the amount of work that needed to be done.
The last time he actually saw her was when he was out walking in Chatham with Paul Smith. She was in her car but lowered her window to speak to him. They chatted briefly and she said she would ring him. Dave only knew where Susan lived after going past her house whilst out on a bicycle ride in the summer of 1999 with a group of friends who knew Susan and pointed out her house to him. The only time he ever went to her house was the week before her death, 17th November 1999, to deliver letters that had been sent to her at Dave's address. It was after 9am and no one was in but birthday banners adorned the front door. It was in fact Susan's mother, Wendy Lamb's birthday. He posted the letters through her letter box and rang her the following Tuesday, the 23rd, to ask her what the letters were about. He didn't remember speaking to her.
He said that there wasn't any bad feeling between them when they stopped seeing each other. He said their relationship was different from the others he had had with younger women. He admitted he had an interest in bondage and had practiced it consensually with different sexual partners in the past such as Shani and Katriona. He made drawings based on fantasy fetish magazines he had. He accepted that some women would be shocked by it and find it sinister but it was just fantasy. He had a large collection of pornographic material but it was never shown to children. Dawn, who appeared in the home made video, had a liking for fetish, as did Dave, John Archenoul and Peter Brooks. The use of the hot wax was Peter and Dawn's idea and not Dave's.
Dave went on to describe how Susan's blood was likely to have gotten onto his boots. He also descibed his initial connection to the internet and the type of sites he visited. The judge at this stage says that Dave accepted that he had sent the 'true man' email sometime in the early morning of the 24th. The prosecution claimed Dave said he didn't send it and Dave is adamant that he sent no such email at any time. Dave did say that he had exchanged a few emails with others online who had an interest in bondage and fantasy sexual situations.
At the time of Susan's murder Dave was off work because he was suffering from a kidney complaint and had had a JJ stent fitted. The stent was causing further pain and soreness. He was being prescribed antibiotics and strong pain killers. He was continually passing blood in his urine as well as suffering from seepage which showed on his underwear. He was becoming fed up of people not believing he was actually suffering from this and showed John and Paul the blood from his urine on the afternoon of the day Susan was murdered. They both said it was a vivid Ribena like colour and most unpleasant. Paul Smith said that Dave told him he had been passing urine like that for about a month and that although this was the first he had showed him his urine, Dave had complained about it. Lots of people at the bike shop knew about it and it was a subject for some light hearted banter among his friends.
The stent was taken out in early October and had been in for nearly 3 months instead of the usual 2 to 3 weeks. It had caused a great deal of irritation and inflammation according to the hospital registrar, Dr Choi. When asked if he was painful getting an erection and he said it was and he never considered ejaculating because of the pain which would wake him at night and keep him awake.
Among his many interests was martial arts; he was a karate black belt and instructor, having had his own club a number of years earlier. He was also passionate about mountain bike racing. He and a few friends had recently set up a team called Natural Born Thrillers; a word play on the title of the Oliver Stone film. Dave owned a number of bikes, one which was said to be worth in excess of £6500.
He was unsure what he was doing on the evening of the 23rd. He said he used the internet for about 6 hours and had slept on a chair downstairs. He said he awoke after 11am on the 24th when his father Ronald Ferguson knocked at the door. Dave answered the door in just his boxer shorts and invited his dad in. Dave then left his dad while he washed and dressed. Dave and his dad chatted while Dave tidied up the living room.
Dave saw Paul Smith, who had just got up, just as he and his father were leaving. Dave said that he left well after 11am and that Paul Smith was wrong when he said that Dave's dad had arrived just after 10:30. Dave's dad had parked behind his own white Renault 21 car so his dad moved his car first and then they drove off separately in the same direction before going in different directions at the end of the road.
Dave accepted that he was seen on CCTV in Gillingham at 12:36 but wasn't sure what he did in between leaving home and then. He thought he went to the doctors to see about his condition and that he had to pay in a TV licence refund cheque. He was heading for the bank before he realised he had left the cheque at home. That was about all he remembers and couldn't recall coming home with the pharmacy bag although both Paul Smith and John Archenoul had said that Dave had a chemists bag in his hand. Mr Archenoul said that Dave had mentioned having been to the chemists.
While he was in Gillingham he said he went to Bikes Bikes Bikes for a downhill racing saddle, which he had been after for a while. Timothy Woodlock, who had worked at the shop for 5 years, says that Dave had asked for a Tioga downhill seat with a red strip rather than a white one. Dave says he then looked around and then went to a newsagent and bought a can of IrnBru. Mr Woodcock says he was in the shop for about 10 minutes. Dave said he would always go into a bike shop if he passed one.
Dave then went to the tattooists, Pictures On The Skin, owned by Dick Want. He was early as the shop never opened before 1pm and all work was strictly by appointment only. He met 2 ladies, Ms Gaynor Kemp-Moore and Mrs Jenette Read who were waiting as Ms Kemp-Moore had the 1pm booking. He said he chatted with Dick as he normally did when he went in. Dave denied he was trying to establish an alibi. He also accepted that he was seen leaving the Marlborough Road car park at 14:07. He was next seen at 14:44, going to, he believed, a secondhand garage. He arrived home not long after 14:44 to be seen by John Archenoul.
The prosecution, in cross-examination, went through the usual routine of pooh poohing the defendants testimony. Dave reiterated that he had been interviewed at length by the police and had tried to tell the police the truth as far as he could remember. He was advised at times to say no comment by his solicitor Mr Simpson. He never said no comment unless advised by Mr Simpson to do so. He again said he didn't murder Susan. He had never attacked anyone. In fact he had never been in trouble with the police before. He admitted he didn't get excited by violence but was excited by fantasy forced sex scenarios.
Dave only knew that it was after 11am when he left his house on the Wednesday morning because his dad had told him so. He didn't look at his watch or a clock. He said it was feasible that he could have left before 11:30 and that his first task would have been to go to the bank. He said that going to the doctors surgery would have been the more sensible first option. He said he arrived in Chatham and parked at the Sir John Hawkins car park, which he had used on many occasions. He thought he had returned to his car and gave the fully unused parking ticket to a nearby lady. He later accepted he had been mistaken. He didn't recall telling police of going to the Pentagon Centre which he certainly didn't do. He was not picked up at all on CCTV cameras until 12:36 when he arrives in Gillingham. Dave gave no comment answers to police during his interviews about his movements that morning. It would take about a quarter of an hour to get to Gillingham from Chatham. Although the area he was first seen in was consistent as coming from the Hempstead area he said he didn't stop and had used another route, one different from what he first described.
On leaving Gillingham to head for home, Dave said he turned into Mill Road and accepted that that wasn't the only route he could have taken. He accepted that he said different things about his exact journey in different statements but that he was confused about much of his whereabouts that day and didn't remember using Mill Road or going in the direction of the Maritime College on his way home. The prosecution put it to him that he went that way home to dispose of the knife, the murder weapon, and some items of Susan's clothing, such as her knickers and socks. When asked what was at the end of Mill Road and the junction with Prince Arthur Road he said he didn't know. The prosecution told him there were some bushes. Dave said he had nothing to conceal and didn't drive in that direction to dispose of anything. This shows how selective and misleading the judges summing-up was. The area of land referred to is the Royal Engineers barracks! This was put to me at trial, at which point I pointed out that it was the R. E. barracks which was guard-dog patrolled, fenced in double. The inner fence of which is wired to the guard house. I actually put it to the prosecutor that if they thought I could get past all that undetected then perhaps I ought to join the SAS; which got quite a laugh from the jurors!!
Mr Ronald Ferguson and his wife Sheila have two children, David and Julia, who is two years older than Dave. They also live in Chatham and at that time Julia was living with them.
That morning, 24th November 1999 he had arranged for an estimate for car repairs at a local garage at 10am. He overslept and was late leaving home. Sheila also wanted him to pick up a prescription which caused a bit of an argument between them he remembers. He went to the doctors surgery and picked up the prescription and arrived at the Rail Side garage some 20 minutes late. He left after about 20 minutes or so. From there he drove to a car spares outlet in Gillingham, Mo Tune in St Johns Road, and arrived there at around 10:50.
Ronald described his route and the traffic conditions to Gillingham. He had to wait behind a lady with a young boy and was in the spares shop for about 15 minutes. He again described the route and traffic conditions on his way to Port Rise which he reached between 11:15 and 11:25. He parked his car on the drive behind Dave's Renault. He rang the bell and got no answer. He noticed that the curtains were drawn so knew that Dave was in.
Dave eventually answered the door in his pants and socks and apologised for keeping his dad waiting. Dave went to get dressed and came back fully clothed and they chatted for a little while. His dad had called to see how Dave was and whether his kidney complaint was any better. Dave said he had to do some banking and shopping to do and left at 11:45 just as Paul Smith came into the front room. Ron couldn't say how Mr Smith was dressed. Ron then reversed his car off of the drive and Dave came out. Ron followed Dave down Port Rise and turned left while Dave turned right down Maidstone Road toward Chatham.
He went to Scott's Wood Road post office to pick up his industrial injury compensation and then went to the Parmiston Road pharmacy to have the prescription made up. He said that this was now just before midday and he arrived back home a little after noon.
He didn't mention getting the prescription made up in the first three police interviews he gave. It wasn't until the 14th December that he first mentioned it and this was because Sheila had reminded him off it. He commented, self deprecatingly, that his wife did all of the remembering for him. She had told him and produced the box that the pills had been packaged in by the pharmacist. The box had the date 24th November 1999 but no actual time. He was then sure it was that trip because he had to get back for his lunch.
Sheila had made a copious amount of notes, as an aide memoir so that they could remember things later. The prosecution suggested to Ron that he didn't really remember and had to rely on reading the notes to make his statements. He said that Sheila read them to him but he remembered much of that day from his own memory. He was certain he went to the chemists after leaving Dave's house after 11am and not before. He hadn't arrived at Dave's house before 10:40 and that it was totally wrong to suggest that he saw Mr Smith at that time. He got a little fed up with the prosecutions suggestions and said he wasn't going to change his story for them. He went on say, quite forthrightly, that he may be 73 years old but he could tell the time.
He wasn't sure exactly what footwear Dave was wearing but had only seen him wearing boots when he was held on remand. The only clothing he remembers Dave wearing was a light blue fleece and a cap with a brim.
Ron wasn't really sure where Dave said he was going and didn't think much of it and that it wasn't very important. It wasn't until after Dave's release on police bail that he spoke to Dave about where he had gone that day.
Lorna Reeve had known Susan Kent since 1994 after meeting in a nightclub in Rochester. They became firm friends as did their children. Although Ms Reeve moved away to Faversham in 1996 she continued to visit Susan in Birch Grove. Ms Reeve's friend Beverley Beresford knew Susan through Ms Reeve's and had also visited Birch Grove. Susan had also visited Ms Beresford at her home in Dartford.
Both ladies were absolutely certain that they had seen a pair of handcuffs in Susan's house. Beverley went further and said that they had been hanging from a wardrobe handle or something in Susan's bedroom.
Susan showed Ms Reeve her handcuffs and Ms Reeve jokingly asked if they were for kinky sex. Susan giggled light-heartedly. Ms Reeve wasn't sure if they were the same as exhibit 13A as she thought they all looked the same and she had seen them in early 1997.
If the handcuffs that were found at the murder scene were brought to the house by the murderer then what has become of the handcuffs seen by these 2 ladies. This places the Crown's own handcuff evidence in the correct light; that handcuffs are not so rare among the general populace and that perhaps Susan Kent had a liking for bondage. This would be confirmed a few years later.
Mr Brian Warner lives in Birch Grove as he did on the 24th November 1999. His recollections of that day were vague. He knew Susan to say hi to and where she lived, but not the number. He remembers her small blue car and that it was generally parked on her driveway when she was at home.
He went out that morning, returning home between 10:45 and 11am. He came up Birch Grove from Cedar Road, passing Susan's house on the right. Susan's blue car was there but a small dirty red car, perhaps a hatchback was parked behind hers. He could only say he was 90 to 95 percent certain of this.
He wasn't sure what caught his attention but he saw the car for perhaps a few seconds. He went home unpacked some shopping and went inside spending much of the day in his kitchen which was at the rear with no view of the street or Susan's driveway.
Now the police must have taken this quite seriously, as I am sure we would all expect them to. The police went as far as taking Mr Warner to local car parks to see if he recognised the make or model of the car he had seen, to no avail. Dave owned a small red car, a Ford Fiesta XR2. The only problem for the police and the prosecution was that at that time it was not possible to be driven. Instead Dave was using the white Renault 21 which was his mountain bike team car.
So whose car was this? In fact, as you will discover later, there is much evidence that the police were well aware of at the time that should have lead to the real culprit rather than David Ferguson.
Some time back in September 1999, Ms Tracey King visited the Hempstead Valley shopping centre. She was a frequent visitor and arrived at around 18:30 and parked outside Marks and Spencer.
She went in and tried on some clothes She didn't like them and then left the store. She went to a sports store and realised that a man was maybe following her. She moved to a few shops and still she saw him everywhere she went. She finally headed for the car park and felt a bit safer as a family and their car was parked next to her's.
She got in her car, locked all the doors and started off. She had to go up 4 storeys to get out. The man she had seen was in front of her pulling into an empty space. She passed him and he immediately followed her, she could see it was him and he was alone. He followed her out of the car park. The car he was driving was a red Citroen ZX. At the main road she tried to pull away, leaving him behind but he pulled away immediately behind her. She finally lost him when she pulled abruptly into a service station on the opposite side of the road.
Ms King spoke to a friend, who was a woman police officer, about the incident the next day. There was no sign of a knife and he didn't follow her home. She described this man as being about 5 feet 10 inches tall with blond hair and no sideburns. He was wearing a grey suit.
The only evidence the Crown had to try to undermine Dave's time of leaving was that of the clock on the pharmacist's old computer which was different to the current time when switched on. The reason given for the computers clock being wrong was that the battery was said to be low on power. If that is the case then no real reliance can be placed on gaining an accurate time from it in this case.
The prosecution could not bring any witnesses or evidence to place Dave anyway else bar where he said he was and the routes he took that day.
Also the prosecution said that Dave had lied about his possession of the handcuff key, the black stockings and the latex gloves. He was plainly in possession of the key and the stockings and latex gloves are a standard piece of protective wear among mechanics. What importance the prosecution was placing on the gloves is unclear. The lack of any fingerprints of Dave at the crime scene perhaps. But if he was the murderer and was wearing protective gloves, then why would he remove his other clothing and allow sperm to get on Susan's intimate areas?
It is also beyond belief that if Dave had only gone to bed well after 6am on the morning of 24th November 1999 that he would be up and about some 4 hours later to kill a former girlfriend, whilst suffering from a kidney complaint which results in a bloody discharge that was not detected or mentioned by the forensic experts.
The last sighting of Susan is at 10:42 when leaving the Hempstead Valley shopping centre. She would have normally left for work within the next hour or so but didn't turn up. That places her time of death squarely between 10:45 and midday. David plainly has an alibi for this period of time and the Crown, however hard they tried, could not place him in Birch Grove during that time. Furthemore the pathologist, Dr Rouse, didn't even hazard a guess at a time of death for Susan Kent which means that much of the Crown's evidence is nothing more than a puzzling DNA profile, general character assassination (to quote Bob Woffinden), conjecture and barrel scraping.
It is always difficult for innocent people, when caught up in these terrible situations, to try to cobble together an alibi. Why would one remember the events of a particular day unless something momentous happens, or if one happens to keep a detailed diary? To Dave Ferguson and his family and friends it was just another day; yet one that would have momentous significance afterwards and continues to be momentous to this day.