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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005, 15:57 GMT
Pride was motive of lake killer
As Gordon Park begins a life sentence for the murder of his wife - the "Lady in the Lake" - BBC News examines how a "big softie" became a ruthless killer.

Carol Park
Carol Park was bludgeoned with an ice axe

It took almost 30 years for "Lady in the Lake" killer Gordon Park to answer for the brutal murder of his wife.

Police suspected the 60-year-old retired teacher soon after Carol Park's body was found by amateur divers in Coniston Water on 13 August 1997.

But a lack of evidence at the time, meant he would be free for a further seven years.

He had painted a picture of himself as the neglected victim of a woman who was infatuated with other men. But after a 10-week trial, a jury at Manchester Crown Court agreed he bludgeoned his then 30-year-old wife with an ice axe and callously weighted her body, still wearing a baby doll nightdress, in picturesque Coniston Water.

Foetal position

Mrs Park went missing on 17 July, 1976, from her home in Leece on the outskirts of Barrow in Cumbria.

Her body lay undiscovered for more than 20 years.

A subsequent post-mortem examination showed Mrs Park's skull had been attacked and "her face had been shattered by a number of blows" from a sharp-edged instrument.

After delivering the fatal blows, Park had carefully wrapped his wife's body for disposal.

Gordon Park
Gordon Park admitted strangling his wife to remand prisoners

It was trussed up in the foetal position indicating it had been done within four hours of death and before rigor mortis had settled in.

There had been a "meticulous" use of knots, which implicated Park, who was a climber and sailor with an "unusual interest" in knots.

Also, at the time of his first arrest in 1997, Park allegedly confessed to strangling and then battering his wife to two other remand prisoners.

It later emerged a couple had spotted Park standing up in a dinghy on Coniston Water in July 1976.

They later joked: "I hope that that isn't his wife".

In his defence, Park said he had taken the children on a trip to Blackpool on the day his wife vanished. When they got back, she had gone, leaving behind her wedding ring.

Three-time married Park admitted he did not report his first wife missing for six weeks after her disappearance.

The prosecution said Park's motive was pride in wanting to avoid the public humiliation of his wife leaving him again for another man.

Park admitted a series of rows with his wife over her relationships with other men and restraining her on at least one occasion.

During the trial a former lover of Mrs Park, claimed her husband was "trying to implicate him" in her disappearance.

David Brearley said Mrs Park lived with him for a time on Teesside in 1974, but returned to the family home because she could not be apart from her children.

He said after Mrs Park disappeared he received a letter from solicitors acting on Park's behalf quoting his address as the last known address of his wife.

Mr Brearley said: "It just felt like Gordon was trying to implicate me in some way."

Park repeatedly told the jury of seven men and five women at Manchester Crown Court, that he loved his wife and would "never harm her".

His family remains split by Carol Park's violent murder. One daughter gave evidence against him and his son Jeremy, who was six at the time of her death, spoke about how his father was a "big softie" and often felt rejected.

Listen to a special report on the inquiry

Lake crime scene visited by jury
11 Jan 05 |  Cumbria

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