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Saturday, March 6, 1999 Published at 14:24 GMT


'No charges' over millionaire death

A man once under suspicion for the murder of his friend who died leaving him a fortune, has been told he will not face prosecution.

John Hart said he was "relieved" to learn that no one would face criminal charges in connection with the death of pensioner Lawrence Dabbs in 1996.

Mr Hart, 39, a mature student, came under suspicion after it emerged he was to inherit 1.4m from 74-year-old Mr Dabbs, who was found dead in his fume-filled car at his luxury bungalow in Ilkeston in September 1996.

The Crown Prosecution Service has said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone, despite further evidence recently produced by the police.

A spokeswoman said: "The CPS has confirmed its original advice that there is no realistic prospect of conviction for murder against any person".

Mr Hart said the past two-and-a-half years had been "unbearable" and he was relieved the "finger of suspicion" was no longer pointing at him.

He said from his home in Marlpool, Derbyshire: "Laurie and I were very close. It was hard enough to come to terms with his death, without being suspected of doing him in for his money."

Mr Hart is currently pursuing a High Court action to challenge the manner in which the inquest on Mr Dabbs was conducted.

Changing case

Initially Derbyshire Police treated the incident as suicide, but four weeks later detectives launched a murder inquiry after Mr Dabbs's relatives raised questions about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Mr Hart was arrested and charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice with a fresh will and with falsifying accounts of 14,656 building work at his flat.

But in April 1997 the Crown Prosecution Service advised police that there was insufficient evidence to proceed and all charges were dropped.

The case was re-opened last year after a five-week inquest at which it was decided that Mr Dabbs was unlawfully killed.

New evidence

Evidence emerged at the inquest that sticky tape which attached a garden hose to the exhaust pipe of Mr Dabbs' car was "intricately" bound by someone wearing gloves.

But Mr Hart said: "I have always believed Laurie committed suicide, in fact, I think he might have tried a couple of times before he finally succeeded.

"For the last three years of his life we were inseparable I would have broken my neck to save him."

He said he now planned to publish a book, called Where There's A Will, to set the record straight about his relationship with the eccentric millionaire.

Mr Hart, who lives with his wife Helen, 25, and sons Samuel, four, and James, 20 months, has now returned to Sheffield University to complete his law degree, then plans to study for a doctorate.

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