Date: 9 May 1993
Raymond Saunders was shot on the Thistlebrook caravan site in Abbeywood, Southeast London.
He was shot twice at about 3.30pm on Sunday, 9 May 1993.
A man was tried for Raymond Saunders's murder but acquitted after Raymond Saunders's common-law wife refused to testify against the man that she had earlier said she had seen pointing a gun at Raymond Saunders shortly before she heard two shots fired.
Raymond Saunders's common-law wife said that she didn't want to give evidence for personal reasons as well as saying that she could not honestly say which of the two men that she had seen at the time with the gun.
Raymond Saunders died soon after being shot and it was heard that his common-law wife watched him die. In her later statements she said that at the time she had been full of hatred an bitterness, but that after thinking over the murder for hours and hours, she was not prepared to give evidence that would send a man to prison when she did not honestly know who had killed Raymond Saunders.
The court heard that when she gave evidence at the initial magistrates committal she had given evidence against the man that came up to proof.
However, she later wrote to the accused man's solicitors making it plain that she would not give evidence at the trial.
It was heard that the prosecution were not initially informed of her decision and when they found out at the trial they said, 'In the light of all that it seems quite impossible to put this witness forward as a witness of truth, there being no other evidence at all against this defendant', and they abandoned their case against the man.
When the prosecution reviewed the case they said, 'He died almost at once and at that stage nobody on the site where this happened would say what had happened or who was responsible. His common-law wife made a witness statement for the first time on May 13 in which she says in terms that it was this defendant who she saw holding a gun, pointing it at her common-law husband as he staggered and fell. She didn't actually see the shots fired, just heard two shots'.
The prosecution noted that Raymond Saunders's common-law wife later 'named another man as being involved in the killing, but later 'effectively' said it was the defendant and not that other man who was responsible. On January 19, this year Raymond Saunders's common-law wife gave evidence, made a deposition, at the magistrate’s court. At the Crown's request there were full committal proceedings to see if this witness (Raymond Saunders's common-law wife) came up to proof which she did and this defendant was committed for trial'.
However, the court then heard that 'two months later on March 18, Raymond Saunders's common-law wife made a statement 'making it plain that she would not give evidence'. Part of her statement read, 'I have considered this matter long and hard and although I stand by everything, I said I feel for personal reasons I can't give evidence in the court case. I would rather go to prison than stand up and give evidence. I cannot give my reasons for my decision because these are personal. I have not come to this conclusion easily. Ever since my husband was murdered, I know people have not been happy, but it's nothing to do with them'.
It was also heard that, unbeknown to the Crown until 28 March 1994 that Raymond Saunders's common-law wife had also written to the defendant’s solicitor in which she said, 'You may well know the case will be dropped. Could you tell him and his family I don't want any contact with him or his family ever'. Her letter also stated, 'I must admit that the truth is I am not sure of anything anymore. Watching Ray die as I did has left my brain full of hatred an bitterness. I have sat for hours and hours thinking about this and can not honestly say who killed Ray. I am not prepared to send anyone to prison for life when I can't be sure who killed him'.
When the prosecution concluded with the overview of their case and their reasons for dropping it, the judge noted that the letter to the defendant’s solicitors did not agree with her statement to the police and so he brought Raymond Saunders's common-law wife into the box and questioned her over her motives for not wanting to give evidence against the man and she said, 'I would like to say now I don't know why I said all these things. I can't say now, I can't be sure who killed Ray'. She then said, 'I didn't like to say after all of the trouble people had been through. I felt I didn't want to upset the police because they have been to such a lot of trouble'.
When the judge pressed her on whether or not she knew who killed Raymond Saunders, she said, 'I don't know who did it'.