UPDATE: 'Lady In Lake' murderer read suicide report of serial killer Dr Harold Shipman before death, inquest hears (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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UPDATE: 'Lady In Lake' murderer read suicide report of serial killer Dr Harold Shipman before death, inquest hears
CONVICTED ‘Lady in the Lake’ killer Gordon Park read an official report about the suicide of serial killer Dr Harold Shipman, an inquest has heard.
Park, from Barrow-in-Furness, was found guilty in 2005 of murdering his wife Carol with an ice axe and then dumping her trussed-up body in Coniston Water, where it lay undiscovered until August 1997.
She went missing in 1976.
He was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 15 years, initially detained at HMP Manchester before being transferred to the lower security HMP Garth in Leyland.
Park's children have always denied he was responsible for her murder and have campaigned for his freedom.
An inquest is taking place in Preston this week examining events leading up to the death of Park, who was found dead in his prison cell on his 66th birthday on January 25, 2010.
He was found in bed with a plastic bag over his head and a cord around his neck.
Pathologist Dr Alison Armer said the cause of death was asphyxia. There was hemorrhaging around his neck, lips and eyes.
His death was just a few days short of the fifth anniversary of his criminal conviction.
The inquest heard when his appeal was refused at the end of 2008, Park was placed on suicide watch.
Yesterday at the inquest Park's third wife of 16 years, Jenny, also gave evidence and revealed she had given him the Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s report into the suicide of Dr Harold Shipman at his request.
Shipman was sentenced to life in prison in 2000 after being convicted of 15 murders. He committed suicide in prison on January 14, 2004.
Mrs Park told the court: "He asked for it (the Shipman report) but I don't know why he asked for it and he never mentioned it again. When he said they had opened an ACCT document (placing him on suicide watch) he said it was unnecessary.”
Fellow inmates also told the inquest that around the time his appeal failed, Park had been giving his possessions away, although he had described it as having a 'clear-out'.
Mrs Park added that he was an 'outgoing person' who thought things through carefully.
"He would not usually do things on the spur of the moment," she said.
"There was a change in him. I can't say exactly when, over a period of time. He just became more introverted and hated every minute (of prison).
"The longer it went on the more he hated the system and being in there."
She said she feared he might take his own life when the appeal failed and that he had talked beforehand about ending it because 'he would not want to continue living in prison'.
“He could see no future for him being released,” she added.
She also described how he had been left ‘devastated’ after monthly visits by a pastor and friend to the prison were stopped. After this she said his ‘whole demeanor’ changed.
“Just the way he would walk in. He said it was the last straw that they stopped this,” she said.
“He seemed sadder somehow, not as interested in anything that was being said to him or was going on around him.”
However, she said his death came as a 'huge shock' because he had appeared 'more settled' in the months leading to his death while his lawyers were preparing a file for the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice.
Fellow prisoner and friend George Youness told the hearing today that Park was 'upset' following the appeal and mainly with the legal system.
"He wasn't very happy at all but I told him he could go on from there and gave him the address for the CCRC," he said.
"He did mention something like 'What's the use of going on?'
"He was worried about his family and what he was putting them through."
He said when he reported Park's depression to prison officers and he was moved to the hospital wing for a week, he did not confide in him as much about his feelings after that.
The inquest heard from another inmate friend, Andrew Holliday, who said Park was 'on the edge' after the appeal failed.
He said the cessation of visits by his pastor friend was a 'game changer' for him.
He was the first to walk into Park's cell on the morning of his death and discover his body.
Prison chaplain, the Rev Calum Crombie told the inquest that he had talked to Park four days before his death about his ‘frustration’ that the pastor’s visits had been stopped.
“He said if visits weren’t reinstated he would bring bad publicity on the prison,” he recalled. “I thought he meant some sort of protest and alerted security. I didn’t think he meant suicide or self-harm.”
In 2005, Park wrote exclusively to The Westmorland Gazette from his prison cell in Manchester, maintaining his innocence and revealing his torment behind bars.
Coroner Dr James Adeley is due to deliver his summing up tomorrow morning (Thursday) before sending the jury out to consider a verdict.
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