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‘Lady in the Lake’ Conviction Appealed

(Posted on 06/11/19)

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‘Lady in the Lake’ Conviction Appealed

A posthumous appeal against Gordon Park’s 2005 conviction for his wife’s murder has been heard at the Court of Appeal after his son Jeremy brought the case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Henry Blaxland QC, for the CCRC, told the court on Tuesday that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) did not disclose evidence undermining the credibility of a key witness to whom the school teacher allegedly confessed in prison. 

The court was also told the CPS failed to share an expert opinion that Mrs Park's injuries were unlikely to have been caused by her husband's climbing axe, and fresh evidence from dental experts further undermines the suggestion of the axe as murder weapon.

"May I make it plain that it is our submission that, however one looks at it, the material that is now available should lead this court to come to the conclusion that this conviction is not safe,” Mr Blaxland said.

"This is a case, a circumstantial case, where it is very difficult to tell exactly what it was that influenced the jury in their decision."

CPS lawyers contend there was "compelling" evidence against Park and his conviction is therefore safe.

Carol Park, also a teacher, went missing in Cumbria in July 1976. Gordon Park claimed she had gone to live with another man but, in 1997, her body was found by amateur divers in Coniston Water. 

Park was arrested and charged with her murder but the case against him was dropped due to lack of evidence. He was then brought to trial in 2005 on new forensic and geological evidence, and found guilty at Manchester Crown Court.

A 2008 appeal was refused and, in January 2010, on his 66th birthday, Park hanged himself in his cell at HMP Garth, maintaining his innocence to the end.

The appeal continues today. Dame Victoria Sharp, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice May are expected to give their ruling at a later date.