'Lady in the Lake' killer inquest hears evidence

An inquest has heard "Lady in the Lake" killer Gordon Park accessed an official report into the prison suicide of mass murderer Harold Shipman more than a year before he was found dead in his own cell.

His third wife, Jennie, told the hearing she sent the official Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report into Shipman's death to her husband in July 2008 at his request.

But he did not tell her why he wanted to read about Shipman's hanging at HMP Wakefield in January 2004.

The discovery of the report by prison authorities flagged up concerns for his welfare while he was serving a life sentence for the murder of his first wife, Carol.

Park escaped justice for nearly 30 years after he murdered her and dumped her body in Coniston Water in the Lake District.

He was found unconscious in his cell at HMP Garth, in Leyland, Lancashire, on January 25, 2010, on the morning of his 66th birthday.

Preston Coroner's Court was told that a plastic bag was over his head and a cord was around his neck

The retired schoolmaster bludgeoned his wife to death with an ice axe in July 1976 and dumped her in the lake near the family home in Leece, near Barrow-in-Furness.

He claimed he had taken their children on a trip to Blackpool on the day she vanished to live with another man when she was aged 30.

Her body had come to rest on an underwater ledge and was found by amateur divers 21 years later.

She was found wearing her blue baby doll night-dress, arms bound tightly and with tape over her eyes.

Park was arrested and charged with her murder but the case against him was dropped in January 1998 when the Crown Prosecution Service said it did not have enough evidence against him.

A second police investigation uncovered fresh evidence by linking him to the killing with the knots meticulously used to tie up the body and a piece of Westmorland green slate used to weigh it down that matched the stone used to build the family home.

The 2005 guilty verdict at Manchester Crown Court brought an end to one of Britain's most notorious unsolved murders.

Park was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 15 years.

In November 2008, the Court of Appeal rejected an application by Park for leave to appeal against his conviction by calling fresh expert testimony on the geological evidence heard at his trial.

His supporters have been battling to refer the case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

The inquest at Preston Coroner's Court is scheduled to last four days.