Husband is convicted of 'Lady in the Lake' murder

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The 30-year mystery of the "Lady in the Lake" was finally solved yesterday when a retired teacher was convicted of murdering his wife and dumping her body in Coniston Water in the Lake District.

The 30-year mystery of the "Lady in the Lake" was finally solved yesterday when a retired teacher was convicted of murdering his wife and dumping her body in Coniston Water in the Lake District.

Gordon Park, 60, claimed his wife, Carol, a primary school teacher, had disappeared from the family home on the first day of the summer holidays in 1976.

But, after a 10-week trial at Manchester Crown Court, a jury unanimously convicted him. Park was convinced he would be acquitted. After he was jailed for life, he was led from the dock trance-like, holding his hands out before him. Park's third wife, Jenny, burst into tears while Carol Park's brother, Ivor Price, who has always been convinced of Park's guilt, collapsed in the gallery.

The court was told Park, an "intense, deep and methodical" man, bludgeoned his "pretty and vivacious" wife on 17 July 1976 with an ice axe, bound her up in bags and pushed her from the side of his boat, Lady J. He would probably have escaped detection had he tipped the body a few feet further across Coniston. But he left it on top of a shallow slope where it was found by divers in August 1997.

Park was charged with murdering Carol, who was still clad in a blue nightdress when found. But prosecutors dropped the case because of lack of evidence in 1998.

Park and his wife had a stormy nine-year marriage, punctuated by violent rows, a wife-swapping episode and Carol's numerous affairs. She left to live with one boyfriend but was forced to return after Park was granted custody of the children: Jeremy, Rachel and Vanessa, who was adopted after her mother ­ Carol's sister ­ was also murdered, by a jealous boyfriend.

The jury heard how, until the body was discovered, she became "a name upon a file at Scotland Yard; a question mark in the minds of those who had known her" and Park got on with his life, remarrying twice.

The prosecution said that, since Mrs Park was still clad in her nightie and wrapped in one of her pinafore dresses, she must have been killed by someone who knew her. She was also bound by knots known only to climbers, sailors or someone with an "unusual interest in knots". Park was all three.

Sentencing Park, Mr Justice McCombe said: "I am not sure there was a significant degree of planning. [But] I have to take into account this terrible concealment of this body that led to so much suffering to so many people for such a long time."