Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Killer bids to claim estate

A man who stabbed to death his girlfriend and their six-year-old son has told a court that he wants to inherit the estate of his partner so he can rebuild his life.

Paul Chadwick, 35, is already entitled to half the proceeds of any sale of the bungalow they owned in Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire, but he is bidding for her half of £60,000 as well as another £20,000 of assets in her name.

He says Marks and Spencer employee Miss Clay, 40, would have wished him to inherit the £80,000 as he said he was "very unwell" at the time of the killings on April 9 last year which were "not by my hands".

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.

Nearly 12 months on, Chadwick appeared in person today at Manchester Civil Justice Centre to argue he should be entitled to the balance of her estate.

The law states that those convicted of murder or manslaughter cannot inherit from their victims or profit in any way from their crimes, but the rules can be modified to take into account the conduct of the offender, the deceased and any other relevant material concerned.

At present the estate is destined for Miss Clay's extended family of aunts and cousins but Chadwick argues "small amounts of money scattered thinly" will make less difference than giving him the chance to buy a house - rather than half a house.

Giving evidence in shirt and tie, a composed Chadwick bristled when the barrister for Miss Clay's family suggested that he would be benefiting from his crimes.

He said: "It's not about benefiting. It's obviously been portrayed in the papers that it is to do with money ... I was unwell. I nearly took my own life. I had about 20 injuries to myself.

"I want to put it out in this courtroom that I was unwell at the time. I was very unwell.

"I have been through the worst of it that I can ever have imagined. It can't get any worse than I already have.

"I have lost more than any money that can be given to me.

"I have not benefited in any way. I have lost Lisa and I have lost my son Joseph.

"Money does not mean anything in life. Happiness is the main thing in life."

Explaining his account to the police in which he confessed to the stabbings, he told the court: "It was not my hands."

Asked about a doctor's report in the criminal proceedings which suggested that Chadwick had "some degree of control over his actions", he replied: "No, I would never have taken those steps. Like I say, it was not my hands. At the time it was not my actions, it was not me. That is all I can say.

"It is a place where I would not even wish it on my worst enemy.

"I loved them to bits. Whatever happens I have got memories of them. No one can take that away from me, nobody."

Chadwick 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.

But his barrister, Michael Whyatt, told the court that his client was a changed man.

He said: "He is having treatment. He is not the same man.

"When he gave evidence he was not in the slightest bit self-pitying. There were no tears until he was asked about the point where his partner and son had suffered. That was the final straw. The bit that provoked him to tears.

"He is an ordinary man, the man who was in a loving relationship.

"He had empathy. He had understanding but he did not have that when he was ill."

Mr Whyatt continued: "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.

"Half of the house will not buy him half a house but potentially the remainder of the estate may put him in the position where he may be able to (buy a house)."

David Gilchrist, representing Miss Clay's aunt, Greta Squires, took Chadwick through the events of the early hours of April 9 and his account of what happened that he gave to the police nine days later.

Chadwick had woken up at about 4.30am and gone downstairs and picked up a kitchen knife and a carving knife.

He told police he then tried to suffocate Miss Clay and then stabbed her up to eight times with one of the knives.

Mr Gilchrist asked Chadwick if he then recollected meeting his son on the landing and stabbing him a number of times.

Chadwick said: "In fact now it's disbelief."

Miss Clay managed to run down the stairs and was attacked again in the hallway before Joseph was further stabbed on the landing.

Next, Mr Gilchrist asked the applicant for his comments on the post-mortem examination report which showed numerous puncture wounds on Joseph's body that would not have contributed to his death.

He said the pathologist was of the opinion they were of the result of "prodding motions" by the tip of a knife and would have caused pain and suffering.

There was also evidence of defence-type injuries to both his arms, he said.

At this point, Mr Chadwick became visibly upset.

Turning to the estate, Mr Gilchrist said: "The reality is that you cannot know what Lisa would have wanted in the circumstances, can you?

"It is speculation. It is not something you would have contemplated."

Chadwick replied: "I didn't think I would ever be in this position in the first place."

Miss Clay had previously made a will in which she said all her assets would transfer to Chadwick in the event of her death.

Mr Whyatt said medical experts had concluded that Chadwick was suffering from a psychotic mental illness at the time which apparently appeared "relatively rapid" in the week before the deaths.

He was said to have visited his GP on the advice of his mother and partner but his condition had not been fully evaluated.

Chadwick's parents, Michael and Susan, from Morecambe, were in court today.

Mr Chadwick said they treated Miss Clay like a daughter, while his wife said her son had been "acting a bit strangely" in the week before the deaths.

Just before she returned to her seat in court, she told the judge: "Can I just say, they were very loved and they all loved each other. She was like a daughter to me."

Ms Squires, from Boston, Lincolnshire, where Miss Clay was brought up, said she accepted that her niece had left for a new life in Lancashire with Chadwick.

Mr Whyatt said to her: "Do you accept that Paul was very, very ill?"

She said: "That is no excuse for brutal murder."

She disagreed that any money divided among the family would be "insignificant" to them.

Mr Whyatt said: "This was simply a bolt out from the blue, Miss Squires?"

She replied: "Indeed."

The barrister added: "And not anything anyone could have predicted, including even Paul himself?"

Ms Squires said: "There are bits in his statement that don't sound like that."

Summarising his case, Mr Gilchrist said that Miss Clay's 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."

He noted that one doctor had noted that although Chadwick's mental impairment was "substantial" it was not "totally impaired".

Mr Gilchrist said that in addition it appeared from today that Chadwick did not accept he was culpable for the deaths of his partner and son.

"That is at odds with his guilty pleas to manslaughter," said Mr Gilchrist.

"This is not a case where one can say that his culpability is removed or exonerated by his mental illness.

"His claimed lack of culpability does not become more plausible by the fact that he cannot remember what happened on April 9."

Mr Whyatt said there was no evidence that Chadwick himself had any insight into his illness.

He said: "He has had to endure questioning, proper and fully appropriate, about what he said in answer to several police interviews nearer the time.

"Those interviews and the pathologist report show the severity of the injuries that were suffered and read in isolation, those interviews would provoke nothing other than perhaps disgust by any ordinary member of the public.

"But read in the context of medical evidence and considering some of his replies on his understanding or limited understanding of why it happened, the injuries and the nature of them are more illustrative of his mental illness than anything else."

Judge Mark Pelling QC said he would give his judgment on Wednesday morning.

Ms Squires later said in a statement issued by her solicitors Slater & Gordon: "It was sickening to hear his evidence. What that man did to Lisa and Joseph was brutal.

"He's robbed them of a future and devastated our lives. And now he wants to use their money to improve his life and his future.

"His desire to enrich himself from their estate just goes to show he is utterly lacking in remorse and has nothing but contempt for Lisa's family.

"It was an affront to justice to see him sitting there callously demanding to profit from his killing of two innocent people. But it would be an even greater insult to Lisa and Joseph's memories if he were to win this action.

"For us, this was never about the money, it is about the principle."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph