Raymond Carroll - Wrongly Accused or Just Wrong?
I’m going to start with a warning. This post deals with a sickening crime committed on a very young child. If that kind of story isn’t for you, then please don’t venture any further.
I'll look at the words of Raymond Carroll. He’s an Australian who has been tried twice regarding the brutal murder of a 17-month-old baby. Both times the jury found him guilty. Appeal courts overturned both verdicts, so Raymond is a free man.
The crime occurred in the 1970s, but I’m going to analyse a recent interview which you can see here.
In the feature, Carroll undergoes a lie detector test which is he passes as telling the truth that he was not responsible for the murder.
You can read more about the case here, but the transcript below will tell you all you need to know.
I found this a hard set of words to look at. At first sight, he is straightforward and direct. He doesn’t introduce many needless words to persuade or convince me of his story. These are qualities I usually prize in a set of words. However, my gut was telling me something was off. Was my gut right?
Let’s break it down
Interviewer: Friday the 13th of April 1973. Sometime during that night, the 17-month-old baby, Deirdre Kennedy, was abducted from her cot in Ipswich. And the baby was taken down to Limestone Park in Ipswich. Terrible things were done to the baby, including biting the thighs of the child. The body… the baby was sexually interfered with and then the body was thrown up on the roof of the lavatory in the park. They’re horrendous crimes..
Carroll: It is a horrendous crime yes.
I: Can you imagine anything worse?
C: No, I couldn't
I: Did you do it?
C: No, I did not
This very first sample sets the pattern for the interview. Carroll doesn’t seek to argue with the inarguable or offer excuses for himself. He tends to keep his answers brief and doesn’t expand on them.
The denial where is asked “did you do it?” and he replies, “no I did not” is the only denial he offers in this interview. Linguistically it’s a strong denial, it starts with a “no” and it does have more after the “no”. It’s weakened slightly by the fact he doesn’t say what he didn’t do.
One marker here is the non-contraction. When Carroll is asked if he can imagine anything worse, he uses the contraction “no I couldn’t” rather than “no I could not”. So, he does use contractions at times. When the interviewer asks “did you do it?”, he replies “no I did not” rather than “no I didn’t”.
Often in deception, people use the more formal non-contracted forms in the hope they sound more rigorous and less casual.
The pattern really is set. As you’ll see, it feels like Carroll has a strategy for this interview. He deals with the question that is asked briefly and he doesn’t argue with facts. He doesn’t downplay what is put to him and he reflects back the questions in his words.
We’ll also see that he appears to be truthful in a lot of what he says.
I: Two juries say you did
C: Two juries said I did, three cou-three courts of appeal said I didn’t.
I: Twelve men and women wise and true, twice said you did
C: (long pause) yes, I’ll agree to that. They did convict me.
People hate lying. It causes stress and is hard work for our brains. Carroll opts for the plain truth here, he makes no attempt at a cover-up or to minimise what happened with the juries.
Every time he accepts or agrees with what the interviewer has said, it leaves the interviewer with few options to ask more questions about that subject. It seems a tactic designed to keep the stress out of the interview.
This is the first time, and one of only a few times, he introduces something in his defence by bringing in the courts of appeal. Notice this stresses him slightly as he stutters on it.
I didn’t like him saying “I’ll agree to that” in reply to one of the questions. This suggests some arrogance to me. It’s a fact, you don’t agree to them, you don’t get to decide what facts are, but it appears he does think this.
I: Are you being paid for this interview?
C: No, I am not
I: In any way or form?
C: In no way and form am I being paid for this
This is more of the same; answer the question and only the question. Reflect back the wording. Stick to the facts and only the facts where possible.
The interview moves on to another crime years later, which brought a Carroll to the attention of the authorities for the murder of the baby.
I: Why did you break and enter?
C: …um… (cough) … in what way? What exactly do you want … ?
I: What did you do? You did it.. oh I’m sorry.. the Crown says you did it, the state says you did it.
Mention of this crime (breaking and entering) seems to stress Carroll more than the original crime (murder) which brings a deviation from his strategy here. This is clearly a subject that causes him stress and he wishes to avoid. In the initial response, he doesn’t answer the question. Instead, he deflects and buys himself thinking time by asking a question in reply to a question.
Carroll doesn’t give a second response to the interviewer. It’s not exactly a question that he is asked, he is given a statement and he decides not to give any reply.
Note here, that Carroll doesn’t deny anything that is put to him in this segment.
I: How did your fingerprints come to be on the photograph? If you didn't do it?
C: I don't know. I honestly don't know.
I: It wasn't just, you know, ordinary break and enter, a kid going through a window and stealing a television or something, was it? This is getting the the underwear of women and cutting the crotch out of them and cutting the nipple section off the bras?
C: Yes, that was the crime
I: It’s perverted?
When asked about the fingerprints, he answers and then repeats his answer for good measure, “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know”. Compared to what has come before, Carroll appears more rattled. Not rattled enough to set off on an explanation of why he doesn’t know, or to offer anything else in his defence.
He then seems to get back in his groove with two neutral answers where he neither seeks to offer excuses nor denials. He simply confirms back to the interviewer what is said.
These words are so neutral that the criminal could use them truthfully and an innocent person could use them truthfully too.
I: Most importantly, it was this event in 1982 that drew you to the attention of the police, who were investigating the murder of a baby back in ’73.
C: That’s correct.
Once more, he’s confirming facts but offering little else. There are certainly no excuses given. If he had replied with “that’s correct, the police became fixated on me with no evidence at all and made my life hell” I’d be red flagging him for changing focus. He doesn’t do that.
I won’t give him a pass here, though. Instead, I’m going to worry about a lack of emotion in the words. Any feelings are totally missing here. No anger at being accused, no upset or recrimination. Nothing.
I: What did Deirdre Kennedy die from?
C: (long pause)
I: Come on, you must remember
C: I’m assuming asphyxiation
I: Yes, asphyxiation and strangulation. 17-month-old baby that size…
C: A 17-month-old - yes I know, it is a - ve- truly horrendous crime. I'm f-fully aware of that.
Carroll has sat through at least two trials. The answer should be readily available to him, it was presented in court. Why does he pause and then say only that he “assumes asphyxiation”?
Is there an avoidance here of saying the horrendous thing he is accused of doing? Her death was caused by strangulation. If you look back over all the words so far, he has avoided saying anything descriptive of the crimes. When asked if it is perverted he only says “yes” not “yes it’s perverted”.
He never refers to the murder, it’s always the downplayed “crime”. To be fair, the word “crime” is given to him by the interviewer.
The first time he is asked to say an unpleasant event (what was the cause of death) he avoids saying anything at first then only gives “asphyxiation” not the strangulation.
He does go on to say it was a truly horrendous crime and when he does his stuttering returns indicating stress. Calling it a “horrendous crime” may be the right words to use to describe it. I don’t think it is coincidence that these are also the words given to him at the start of the interview by the interviewer. Carroll has been parroting his words all the way through this interview.
I: The body or the baby, whether it was alive or dead, was bitten.
C: Yes, there was a bite mark present on the child.
Carroll returns to agreeing with the facts, but if he didn’t murder the baby, why is he saying it is “debatable” that there were two bite marks? A neutral onlooker would not care for this detail. In fact, they are much more likely to think the two marks show just how vicious this attack was. Carroll wants to downplay the number of bites. Why is this?
Look at how he linguistically downplays the bites. The question tells him in an active sense that the baby “was bitten”. Carroll changes this to a much more passive form that is less gruesome. He only says, “there was a bite mark present”.
I: Bitten by a person, experts say, who had a strange set of teeth
C: True, that’s what was being brought out in the court case.
There is a slight change in Carroll’s approach here. He still accepts what has happened, but he wraps it up by setting out a distinction between the truth, (that is what truly happened) and what was presented in court as evidence.
I: You've got a strange set of teeth, haven’t you?
C: Yes, I have an unusual dentition
I: Describe the unusual nature of your teeth.
C: I have an overbite
I: which means the …
C: which mean the front and the top teeth do not meet
I: In fact, you can't do that (puts teeth together)
C: No, I cannot
The interviewer has reduced the stress now. He’s not asking questions about the crimes directly. He’s asking Carroll about his teeth. Again this is all about facts and puts Carroll back on his rhythm, accepting the facts but not offering anything more. I believe his misspeaks when he says, “front and the top teeth” rather than “top and bottom teeth”.
I: And the experts say the bites on the baby match the strange set of teeth you’ve got
C: That's the evidence they gave, yes
We see this concept of the difference between the truth and the evidence brought in again here. But he doesn’t expand on it. The impression he wants to give is “well that was the evidence that was given, but it wasn’t truthful” but he never says that.
I: It’s hard to keep calm in this circumstance, Mr Carroll.
C: (long pause) The evidence does not add up. Bite… bite marks are supposed to be so unique. OK? The bite marks are so unique they’re compared to fing-fingerprints. Now a fingerprint can belong to one person, one person only.
If my dentition is so unique and matches that bite mark so perfectly, how is it that in the second trial the prosecution has come up and said sorry, but the first trial we had it wrong. His teeth were upside-down in the first trial. So, basically, the first trial I was convicted on incorrect evidence
Carroll is baited by the statement from the interviewer. What follows his prod or the jibe about him finding it hard to keep calm is the longest reply we have had yet.
And here it is possible to see why he has resorted to only short and factual answers. This answer doesn’t make sense. It appears he wants to say bite marks are like fingerprints, unique to one person, and these bite marks don’t identify me. But he doesn’t finish the thought. It is left hanging.
There’s a big marker in his last words here, “basically, the first trial I was convicted on incorrect evidence”. “Basically” is a word used by people to boil many factors down to one factor. He wants to give the impression he was convicted on false evidence, but that isn’t what he says. By using “basically” he is acknowledging other factors played a part too.
Look at how he uses “OK” to have his fact accepted. That strikes me as another indication of arrogance.
I: (reading from a report) “The baby did not have deep bruises. There was a width between the upper and lower marks. That indicates to me, says the expert, that the biter’s top and bottom teeth cannot close together when his jaw is shut.” That's you.
C: That's not just me. Am I the only person with an overbite in this world?
This is a weak and deflective, it’s also not a denial. He doesn’t say “But it wasn’t me, there’s nothing to say it was me, only it was someone with an overbite and there are millions of them.” No, he includes himself in the set of people it could be and then throws a question back to the interviewer.
I: On Friday the 13th of April 1973. You are in Edinburgh, South Australia.
I: A lot of people say you weren’t. Let’s count them. Recruit Seger says you weren't there, Recruit Sheehan says you weren't there, Inspector Martin says you weren't there, Recruit Franklin says you weren't there, Recruit Flynn says you weren't there and Recruit Goddard says you weren't there… How am I going?
C: Hmm, you’re doing well, that's what came out through the court system. Yes.
We’ve moved subjects now and in a familiar pattern. Rather than stand his ground and offer his story, Carroll again accepts what people have said about him and provides no evidence to the contrary.
We see the arrogance coming through again when he says, “hmm, you’re doing well”.
Once more, he’s splitting truth/factual/real happenings with “court system”. Again, although he tries to give the impression he is saying “well that is what was said in court, but it’s not the truth” he doesn’t say that.
I: They're all lying. You're telling the truth?
C: They believe what they believe, I-I believe what I know
I: That’s not what I asked you, they're all lying and you're telling the truth?
C: Yes. If you want an outright answer, yes, they are.
The interviewer was so close here. He catches the fact that Carroll didn’t answer the question the first time. He misses the fact Carroll still didn’t answer the question the second time.
Look at it. The initial response is an obvious non-answer, not only about whether they are lying, as he’s also asked “you’re telling the truth?”. He doesn’t say the straightforward “I’m telling the truth, I was in Edinburgh” instead he said “I believe what I know”.
When pressed to deal with the question, he says these people are lying and claims it’s an “outright answer”. However, he was asked again if he is telling the truth, and he doesn’t deal with that at all.
That’s a big marker, he was asked twice if he is telling the truth and he doesn’t respond to it. He avoids answering this part of the question.
I: Explain the amazing coincidence that you didn't appear in the graduation photograph from the RAAF base in South…
C: Yeah, I did not appear in the graduation paragraph.
I’m never keen on when someone interrupts an answer, and this is Carroll’s most blatant go at that. He gives another non-answer. He’s asked to explain why he is not in the picture and he merely confirms that he’s not in the picture. Once more, he’s on his strategy of not arguing with a point and not even minimising what is put to him. It appears honest, but he is evasive this time.
I: And the reason why?
C: The reason why is I either asked or was asked to be off the parade.
C: I do not know the exact reason for that. I cannot tell you. The course… after the graduation march, marched off the parade straight into a staging area for photographs. The photograph was taken. No, I do not appear in that photograph.
I wish he was asked the obvious follow-up questions. Why can’t he tell us, why doesn’t he know?
Again, he’s mirroring the interviewers words. He never says, “I’m not in the photograph”, or “I wasn’t there when the photograph was taken”. Instead, he repeatedly says, “I do not appear in the photograph” which is the concept and wording that was introduced by the interviewer.
It is as if Carroll is determined not to introduce anything new to the conversation in terms of the concepts and the words used. Nearly everything he says is copied from the interviewer.
I: Because if you did…
C: If I did, I wouldn't be here because this would be all circumspect, wouldn’t it?
It would be physical proof to say that I was in Edinburgh. If I was in Edinburgh at at the time, I couldn't be in Ipswich at the time.
I’d be more convinced with this if he didn’t use “if”. If he has said something like “me being in the photograph would be the proof I was in Edinburgh - and as it proved I was in Edinburgh, then it proves I wasn’t in Ipswich” I’d find that believable and credible.
The fact he says, “if I was in Edinburgh” sounds like he doubts he was in Edinburgh as much as others.
I: (Talking about Carroll’s girlfriend at the time) Well she asserts, black and blue, that the night after the murder you called on her… she says that, is she lying?
I: And you're telling the truth.
I: Seger, Sheehan, Martin, Franklin, Flynn, Goddard and now Desley Hall… They're all liars. You're telling the truth?
C: That’s correct
I: You had a child by your first wife?
C: Yes, I did.
I: And that first wife says that you proposed that that child be called Deirdre
C: That’s the allegation? Yes.
I: She's lying?
You’ve probably spotted the strategy here. He’s accepting what is said, he doesn’t try to deny or minimise it. However, he doesn’t offer any alternatives or show any emotion even to some pretty hard allegations.
I: Your first wife also says, of this child, that three or four times she can recall you changing the baby's nappy behind locked doors, hearing the child scream. And then when you eventually emerged from the room with the child, the child had bruises over it, and you wouldn't talk about it. Is it true that she said that?
C: It is true that she made those allegations, yes.
I: Is she lying there too?
I: You're telling the truth.
The pattern is familiar now, but this is the bit I feel should drive an emotional response and a firm denial. By accepting that it is true she made the allegation but not dealing with the substance of the allegation, Carroll avoid getting into anything that causes him emotion or deep distress.
Subscribe to get more posts like this direct to your inbox, zero cost
I: How many are we up to now that are liars and..
C: I don’t know.. I’m not keeping count.
The arrogant streak shows here again.
I: It's the coincidence, though, isn't it? It was 11 people in a row lying and you 11 time telling the truth. That's what's strange.
C: That’s what's strange, but like I said, if you put it that way in a generalised fashion, yes, it is very strange. But if you sit there and go through all the evidence that is produced to dispute the allegations, it does not make sense.
Finally, another longer answer from Carroll, but not one that makes things clearer. He starts by agreeing that it is “strange” and then says if you put it in context it “does not make sense”. Going from “strange” to not making sense is not much of a transformation.
His word choice is weak here. He said, “the evidence that is produced to dispute the allegations”. “Produced” gives this evidence the feel of being made up or manipulated and it only “disputes” the allegations. In his words it doesn’t disprove the allegations.
Then we have the non-contracted “does not make sense” rather than “doesn’t make sense”
I: Mr Carroll, do you think it's possible, I mean, this is 33 years ago, do you think it's possible that over the last 33 years, you have been able to convince yourself, convince yourself that you didn't do it?
Do you need me to say any more here?
Only one time in all these words does he deny he had anything to do with the three crimes he is accused of here.
There are many markers of deception present. Many questions aren’t directly answered, when he is goaded to give longer answers his word choice in defending himself is weak, it doesn’t sound like he’s certain of what he is saying.
Like many people who are guilty of a crime, Carroll feels safer talking about what the evidence shows and what was said in court, rather than dealing with what truthfully happened.
Although he tries to stay calm and factual, the hints of arrogance appear throughout.
Carroll does not show emotion or anger—not at the evilness of what he is accused of and not that he has been wrongly accused (in his eyes) or about what people are saying that he did.
And I mentioned at the top of this post, he passed a lie detector test. Lie detector tests don’t directly measure truth or lies. They measure the stress response and if it picks up low stress it decides that the chances are this is truthful.
Carroll’s strategy in this interview is to avoid stress. In the main he doesn’t argue, he doesn’t bring new thoughts to the conversation, he mostly accepts that others have said things about him and says they are liars. He avoids talking about any of the crimes and downplays certain factors of them.
I thought this was a poor interview. The interviewer got hung up on what other people said about Carroll and what they said about his actions, which allowed Carroll not to have to talk about himself or his actions. The interviewer tried to make emotion happen through prodding rather than forcing Carroll to feel those emotions. I’d love to see someone give that a go.
My conclusion is that Raymond Carroll is being mostly truthful in this interview. That is because he spends most of his time agreeing with facts. He doesn’t offer nearly enough in his defence for me to conclude that he is a wrongly accused man.
We must remember the courts have ultimately found him innocent, and he is free and at liberty.