South Cumbria wife killer 'read about Shipman'
Last updated at 15:01, Tuesday, 19 March 2013
SOUTH Cumbria killer Gordon Park accessed an official report into the prison suicide of mass murderer Harold Shipman more than a year before he was found dead in his own cell in Lancashire, an inquest has heard.
His third wife, Jennie, told the hearing she sent the official Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report into Shipman's death to her husband in July 2008 at his request.
But he did not tell her why he wanted to read about Shipman's hanging at HMP Wakefield in January 2004.
The discovery of the report by prison authorities flagged up concerns for his welfare while he was serving a life sentence for the murder of his first wife, Carol.
Park escaped justice for nearly 30 years after he murdered her and dumped her body in Coniston Water in the Lake District.
He was found unconscious in his cell at HMP Garth, in Leyland, on January 25, 2010, on the morning of his 66th birthday.
Preston Coroner's Court was told that a plastic bag was over his head and a cord was around his neck
The retired schoolmaster bludgeoned his wife to death with an ice axe in July 1976 and dumped her in the lake near the family home in Leece, near Barrow-in-Furness.
He claimed he had taken their children on a trip to Blackpool on the day she vanished to live with another man when she was aged 30.
Her body had come to rest on an underwater ledge and was found by amateur divers 21 years later.
She was found wearing her blue baby doll night-dress, arms bound tightly and with tape over her eyes.
Park was arrested and charged with her murder but the case against him was dropped in January 1998 when the Crown Prosecution Service said it did not have enough evidence against him.
A second police investigation uncovered fresh evidence by linking him to the killing with the knots meticulously used to tie up the body and a piece of Westmorland green slate used to weigh it down that matched the stone used to build the family home.
The 2005 guilty verdict at Manchester Crown Court brought an end to one of Britain's most notorious unsolved murders.
Park was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 15 years.
In November 2008, the Court of Appeal rejected an application by Park for leave to appeal against his conviction by calling fresh expert testimony on the geological evidence heard at his trial.
His supporters have been battling to refer the case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.
The inquest at Preston Coroner's Court is scheduled to last four days and will be heard before a jury.
Bosses at HMP Garth - where Park was transferred from Strangeways, Manchester, in September 2007 - were also concerned for his welfare when he lost his appeal against conviction and began giving away possessions to fellow inmates.
He also became upset when his regular visits from a church pastor were stopped, the inquest heard
Giving evidence, teacher Mrs Park - who married her husband in 1993 - described him as a "very fun-loving outgoing person".
"He did think things through carefully and planned things thoroughly," she said.
"It is what you do as a teacher."
She noticed a gradual change in his demeanour during his prison sentence, she said.
"He just became more introverted and hated every minute of it," she said.
"The longer it went on the more he hated the system and being in there."
She recalled sending the Shipman report to him but had no explanation as to why he wanted it.
It led to concerns being officially raised over the possibility of self-harm but it was a move that her husband did not think necessary, she said.
Asked about his state of mind at the time of his appeal, she said: "He was very concerned about the appeal. I was very worried if the appeal failed he might take his own life then.
"It was the fact that if the appeal failed he would not want to continue living in prison because he could see no future for him to be released."
She said he was "shocked" at losing the appeal.
First published at 08:51, Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
i had mr park as a teacher and i still dont believe he did it!!
What inquest? He horrifically murdered his wife, lied to their children for years and then took his own life. Nothing too see hear. I feel heart sorry for the kids.