Family hail killer estate judgment
The family of woman who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend along with their six-year-old son has welcomed the failure of her killer's bid to inherit her estate.
Paul Chadwick, 35, claimed he should inherit the estate of Lisa Clay despite killing her and their son Joseph at their home in Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire, last year.
Chadwick, who was already entitled to half of the couple's bungalow and half of their joint savings, appeared in court in Manchester on Monday to argue that he was "very unwell" at the time of the killings and that he needed the cash to re-establish his life.
But, today, Judge Mark Pelling QC rejected Chadwick's claim in a written judgment - a decision welcomed by Miss Clay's family, who said "justice has been done".
Chadwick argued that the forfeiture rule, which means that those convicted of murder or manslaughter cannot inherit from their victims or profit in any way from their crimes, should not apply in his case.
Judge Pelling said: "In my judgment, the justice of the case does not require that I modify the effect of the forfeiture rule in the circumstances of this case."
He added: "Whilst the level of culpability is reduced and even perhaps significantly reduced by the impact of the mental disorder from which the claimant was suffering on 9 April 2013, it was not eliminated or reduced to the level where it could properly be said to be so low that to give effect to the forfeiture rule would be contrary to the public interest."
Landscape gardener Chadwick admitted two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was sentenced at Preston Crown Court last October to an indefinite hospital order.
He had attempted to kill himself before the bodies were discovered at the property in Lowlands Road. He was taken to hospital with stab wounds before he was released into custody.
Chadwick was then transferred to Guild Lodge psychiatric hospital in Preston and has been there since.
He appeared in court earlier this week to claim that Marks & Spencer employee Miss Clay, 40, would have wished him to inherit the £80,000 he was claiming.
Chadwick, who was calm and composed when he appeared at the trial, said the killings on April 9 last year were "not by my hands".
But his barrister, Michael Whyatt, told the court on Monday that his client was a changed man and was hoping to rebuild his life at some point.
He said: "Mr Chadwick has a very, very low level of culpability for what happened. It is a serious offence that he is in treatment (for), not in prison.
"The size of the estate is modest. Small amounts of money scattered thinly are going to make less difference than to give the complainant some potential to rebuild his life after he is released back into the community."
The estate is now destined for Miss Clay's extended family of aunts and cousins.
David Gilchrist, representing Miss Clay's aunt, Greta Squires, told the trial that Miss Clay made a will before her death which said her estate should go to Chadwick in the event of her death.
But the barrister said that will did not "contemplate the circumstances of her death".
He said: "Therefore, as an expression of her wishes it does not really assist the court."
Mrs Squires welcomed today's ruling.
In a statement released by Slater & Gordon solicitors, she said: "It is our belief that justice has been done.
"We have faced a nine-month ordeal preparing for this case. We have had to relive the harrowing details of Lisa and Joseph's death and listen to Chadwick pleading the victim in court.
"But we were willing to bear this torment to defend the principle that crime should not pay.
"We hope this is the end of this matter and we are able find peace and know that Lisa and Joseph's memory has not been violated by this killer."
Miss Clay's family lawyer, Keith Etherington, said: "We share the family's relief.
"The case could have set a dangerous precedent had the ruling gone in Chadwick's favour. The legal test was in fact a moral judgment rather than a simple legal principle. But the judge's reasoning was impeccable and restores public trust in justice."
Chadwick will also have to foot Miss Clay's family's legal bill, Slater & Gordon confirmed.