Thursday 5 December 2019

Man who stabbed his girlfriend and son (6) to death fails in bid to inherit her full estate

Undated file handout photo issued by Lancashire Constabulary of Lisa Clay, 40 and son Joseph, six,
Undated file handout photo issued by Lancashire Constabulary of Lisa Clay, 40 and son Joseph, six,

Dave Higgens

A man who stabbed to death his girlfriend and their six-year-old son has failed in his legal bid to inherit her full estate.

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

Judge Mark Pelling QC rejected Chadwick's claim in a judgment handed down in Manchester.

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.

Chadwick appeared in court earlier this week to claim that Marks & Spencer employee Miss Clay, 40, would have wished him to inherit the £80,000 and said he was "very unwell" at the time of the killings on April 9 last year, which he added were "not by my hands".

But the judge rejected his argument in a written judgment at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.

Chadwick was calm and composed when he appeared at the trial on Monday to argue he should be entitled to the balance of Miss Clay's estate.

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

Today, 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."

The estate is destined for Miss Clay's extended family of aunts and cousins. Chadwick had argued that "small amounts of money scattered thinly" would make less difference than giving him the chance to buy a house, rather than half a house.

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.

He was then transferred to Guild Lodge psychiatric hospital in Preston and has been there since.

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."

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."

PA Media

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