Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

The killing of 40 year old Lisa Clay and her six year son Joseph in April last year was a shocking local reminder that even in seemingly quiet places like Bolton-le-Sands the world can be a violent and disturbing place.

Lisa was stabbed by her partner Paul Chadwick and when their son Joseph walked in on the scene he too was stabbed by his own father.

It emerged at the court hearing afterwards that Paul Chadwick was a paranoid schizophrenic. He admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was secured indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

It was a very sad story and whilst of course my sympathies lay with Lisa and Joseph and Lisa’s family, I also felt sorry for Paul Chadwick because he was clearly a very sick man and at least he had admitted the crime rather than denying it and standing trial. A trial which would have added to the distress of Lisa and Joseph’s relatives.

However, Paul Chadwick has now lost any sympathy for his illness that I may have had because he has launched an outrageous bid to inherit Lisa’s estate, which otherwise would pass to her grief stricken family. The normal legal rule under The Forfeiture Act 1982 is that a criminal may not benefit in law from criminal activity.

So if a man kills his wife he may not then inherit her estate as the criminal act (the killing) was the reason the inheritance was payable.

So under that rule Chadwick should not inherit Lisa’s £200,000.00 estate. There are however, exceptions to the usual rule in The Forfeiture Act, where for instance a woman kills her husband after a long period of domestic abuse and in such cases the woman may argue that she should still inherit because the killing was some how justified.

Chadwick is trying to twist this rule and say his mental illness means that it was the illness rather than “him” that led to the killing and so in that sense he should be exempt from the normal forfeiture rule. I suppose its quite a clever legal argument. But I think it stinks. It undermines those people who deserve the exemption and I also think it also shows Chadwick may not be so ill after all.