DETECTIVES hunting the killer of sub-postmistress Diana Garbutt tried to “cherry pick” the evidence to fit a theory that she was murdered by her husband, a court has heard.

Defence barrister Jamie Hill QC yesterday claimed mistakes by North Yorkshire Police could be likened to a “comedy of errors” if they were not so serious for his client, Robin Garbutt.

However, David Hatton QC, prosecuting, claimed the defendant’s evidence “bordered on the absurd”. He said the only sensible conclusion was there had been no robbery at the post office that morning and the 45-year-old defendant, formerly of York and Huby, was the killer.

Mr Garbutt denies bludgeoning his wife, who grew up in Selby and Eggborough, as she slept above The Village Shop and Post Office, in Melsonby, near Richmond, on March 23 last year. The claims were put to the jury by the prosecution and defence lawyers as they concluded their cases ahead of the judge’s final summing up of the evidence. The jury will then begin considering its verdict today or next week.

Mr Hill said: “You can’t just cherry pick the evidence. You can’t just ignore the parts of the evidence that you don’t like in order to put forward a theory. I’m going to suggest that the prosecution case is nothing more than that – a theory. Ever since they’ve been trying to make that evidence fit that theory.”

He said the key piece of evidence came from Melsonby resident Brian Hird who told the court he heard a woman’s voice call out “Robin” in the shop on the morning of the murder. Mr Hill said: “If it’s right, if it might be right, Mr Garbutt couldn’t possibly have killed his wife. There isn’t any opportunity.”

The court has heard how neighbour Pauline Dye was allowed to wash her hands in the Garbutts’ bathroom sink after handling the body of Mrs Garbutt. The jury had also been told how a police officer’s DNA was found on the alleged murder weapon – a metal bar. Mr Hill said: “I would be tempted to describe the crime scene management as something of a comedy of errors if it wasn’t so serious for the defendant.”

The court has heard Mrs Garbutt had relationships with three men and had joined a dating site. Mr Hill said this was someone who was having a “mini-mid-life crisis”.

However, Mr Hatton told the court when the evidence of the time of Mrs Garbutt’s death was combined with the “inherently unsatisfactory evidence” of Mr Garbutt, which he said “bordered at times on the absurd”, there was only one sensible conclusion to be drawn.

The trial continues