The conviction of Gordon Park for killing his wife who had gone missing in 1976 finally reached the Court of Appeal this week. The case became known in the media as ‘the lady in the lake’ after scuba divers discovered Carol Park’s body in Coniston Water, Cumbria in 1997.
Gordon Park was convicted of her murder in 2005 but always maintained his innocence. He appealed against his conviction but the appeal was dismissed in November 2008. Little over a year later, the former teacher took his own life in his cell at HMP Garth in Lancashire. This week’s appeal follows a referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission after an application by members of his family applied to the CCRC in the same year he died.
The CCRC referral draws on non-disclosure of both expert opinion undermining the implication by the prosecution that Park’s climbing axe could be the murder weapon and information undermining the reliability of a prosecution witness who gave evidence of a prison confession. The commission also cites new scientific evidence showing that Park was not a contributor to DNA preserved within knots of the rope used to bind the body; and expert evidence that a rock found in the lake near Carol Park’s remains could not specifically be linked to rocks the family home.
Judgement has been reserved and the ruling will be given at a later date.
Park’s family are represented by Maslen Merchant of Hadgkiss, Hughes & Beale Solicitors. You can read Bob Woffinden on the lady in the lake case here.