The Lady in the Lake trial was a 2005 murder case in which Gordon Park, (born 1944) a retired teacher from Leece, near Ulverston, Cumbria, was jailed for life for the murder of his first wife, Carol Ann Park, in 1976.
Carol Park went missing on July 17, 1976, and was never seen alive again by her family. In 1997, her body was discovered at the bottom of Coniston Water, and Gordon was arrested on suspicion of murder. The charges were subsequently dropped. However, Gordon was arrested again, in 2004, and later found guilty of his wife’s murder. The trial judge sentenced him to life imprisonment and recommended that he should serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered for parole. He is currently living at Strangeways prison and has recently lodged an appeal against his conviction.
The details of the murder are sketchy. However, Carol was killed by her face being smashed by a blunt object of some sort, alleged in court to have been an ice axe. She was then bound with rope, using complex knots, and weighed down with rocks and lead piping, before being thrown overboard from a boat on Coniston Water. The body had landed on an underwater ledge, meaning that it could be found. If it had landed a few metres further from the shore, it would probably have never been discovered.
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the case. Gordon has received much support from his family and friends, and maintains his innocence. There was a large amount of local interest in the trial, as shown by the sales of the local paper, the North-West Evening Mail. Some now claim that much of the evidence against him can be discounted. There have been vigils and petitions in attempts to free Gordon from prison and clear his name, and the case even featured prominently in the book No Smoke – The Shocking Truth About British Justice, which outlined seven cases the author believed to be examples of innocent people being convicted of murder.