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'Lady in the Lake' killer inquest

Gordon Park Photo: PA

An inquest will start today into the death of "Lady in the Lake" killer Gordon Park, who was found dead in his prison cell more than three years ago.

Park escaped justice for nearly 30 years after he murdered his wife Carol 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 his 66th birthday.

Staff and paramedics attended but he was pronounced dead less than two hours later.

An investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman was launched.

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 30.

Her body came 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.

A second police investigation uncovered fresh evidence by linking him to the knots 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 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 and will be heard before a jury.

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