'Lady in the Lake' killer Gordon Park's conviction referred to appeal court

image copyrightPA
image captionGordon Park killed his wife with an axe, his trial heard

"Lady in the Lake" killer Gordon Park's murder conviction has been referred to the Court of Appeal.

He was found guilty of killing his wife Carol, whose remains were found in Coniston Water in 1997 wrapped in bags and tied with rope. She had been missing since 1976.

Park, of Leece, near Barrow, Cumbria, was convicted following a 2005 trial and later took his own life.

The Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) said it had found new evidence.

Expert opinion which cast doubt on the prosecution's claim Park's axe might have been the murder weapon was not disclosed at the time of the trial, the organisation said.

Information undermining the reliability of a witness who gave evidence relating to a prison confession was also not disclosed, while new scientific evidence showed Park's DNA was not preserved within knots of the rope used to bind the body, it added.

The CCRC said it had undertaken a "painstaking and detailed review" of the case which included visiting Cumbria, interviewing new and previous witnesses, DNA tests and investigating "multiple potential alternative suspects".

His family applied to the CCRC for a posthumous review.

image copyrightPA
image captionPark said he did not report Carol as missing for six weeks because he thought she had left him for another man

Parks' son, Jeremy, said the new details "significantly challenge" the conviction and "DNA evidence strongly suggests somebody else was involved".

Mrs Park's remains were discovered by amateur scuba divers about 200m from Coniston Water's eastern shore.

Her husband, a retired teacher, was charged with her murder but the case was dropped in January 1998 as prosecutors said there was no realistic prospect of a conviction.

However, he was re-arrested in January 2004 when new evidence emerged.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court unanimously found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 15 years.

An appeal against his conviction was dismissed in November 2008.

Park was found dead in his cell at HMP Garth, in Lancashire, in January 2010 on his 66th birthday.

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