Husband of 'Lady in the Lake' victim is arrested again

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The Independent Online

The husband of a young mother who was the victim of the "Lady in the Lake" murder was arrested yesterday, 27 years after her death.

Gordon Park was charged with murdering his wife, Carol, soon after her body was found in 1997 in the Lake District, but the prosecution was dropped before it reached trial.

Mr Park, 59, was arrested yesterday at 7am at his home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and was being questioned by police last night. The case is one of the most famous unsolved murders in Britain.

Mrs Park, a 30-year-old teacher, disappeared from the family home in Leece, near Barrow-in-Furness, in July 1976. Her body was not found until August 1997 in Coniston Water. Wearing a 1960s "baby doll" nightdress, she was discovered by a team of amateur divers in 75ft of water.

The mother of three young children was brutally assaulted and killed with an axe or a meat cleaver. Her killer wrapped her body in three separate layers of bin liners and sacking before dumping it. The dress had been pierced to create 14 holes, thereby enabling it to be sewn up around her corpse, itself folded into a foetal position.

The murdered woman was named the Lady in the Lake after the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name.

Mr Park, a retired teacher who has remarried twice since Mrs Park's death, was charged with the murder after returning from a cycling holiday in France soon after his wife's body was found.

He told the police that although the whole family had planned to go on a day trip to Blackpool, his wife had changed her mind at the last minute. When he and the children returned to their large detached bungalow, she was no longer there. He said that he found his wife's wedding and engagement rings on the dressing-room table.

Because she had left home on previous occasions, sometimes without explanation, he reported her missing only at the end of the six-week school holiday. After more than 36 hours of questioning, Mr Park was charged with murder. He appeared three times before magistrates before the charges were finally dropped in June 1998.

Mr Park had been due to be committed to Crown Court for trial when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed and discontinued the case. At an inquest three months later, it was claimed that Mrs Park had had two affairs towards the end of her nine-year marriage.

Cumbria Police has never closed the case and it has continued to follow up various leads, with two or three officers working on the case.A Cumbria Police spokesman said: "The arrest has come through as a result of new information, details of which we are not disclosing at this stage."

Among the possible developments are the use of new forensic techniques that allow the recovery of DNA evidence from samples previously considered too small or incomplete for a result.

Defendants cannot be charged with the same offence in cases in which the judge has ordered an acquittal, has directed the jury to acquit, or where there is a verdict of not guilty. But because in this case the CPS dropped the case before it went to trial, Mr Park could be re-charged with murder. However, the police would need to obtain significant new evidence if a second prosecution were to go ahead.