Killer fails in bid to claim victim’s estate

Lisa Clay and Paul Chadwick.

Lisa Clay and Paul Chadwick.

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A paranoid schizophrenic 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, but was also bidding for her half of £60,000 as well as another £20,000 of assets in her name.

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 Judge Mark Pelling QC has rejected Chadwick’s claim in a written judgment – a decision welcomed by Miss Clay’s family..

Miss Clay’s aunt, Greta Squires 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 relatives have been forced to use their savings to fight the case, while Chadwick has launched a claim against them for his legal costs to be paid.

Preston Crown Court heard that Chadwick had complained of hearing voices days before the killings and told Miss Clay he was concerned that people thought he was gay.

The landscape gardener 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.

This week, 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.

The Forfeiture Act of 1982 says those convicted of murder or manslaughter cannot inherit from their victims or profit in any way from their crimes. But there is clause allowing that ban to be waived in exceptional circumstances.

For example, if a battered wife who has suffered years of violence suddenly retaliates and accidentally kills her partner, she may still be able to inherit his estate.

Gary Rycroft, a Lancaster solicitor who specialises in wills and probate, said: “I’m pleased with the outcome because it would have watered down the principle that criminal shouldn’t profit from criminal actions.

“He was responsible for the deaths of Lisa and Joseph and it would have been wrong for him to benefit from Lisa’s estate. Lisa’s family have had a bereavement in horrible circumstances and this has prolonged that experience.”