A man who stabbed to death his girlfriend and their six-year-old son will learn today whether his legal bid to inherit her estate has been successful.
Paul Chadwick, 35, is already entitled to half the proceeds of any sale of the bungalow he and Lisa Clay owned in Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire in England, but he is also bidding for her half – worth £60,000 – as well as another £20,000 of assets in her name.
He says Marks & Spencer employee Miss Clay, 40, would have wished him to inherit the £80,000 and claims he was “very unwell” at the time of the killings on April 9 last year, which he added 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, a calm and composed Chadwick appeared in person at Manchester Civil Justice Centre to argue he should be entitled to the balance of her 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 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.
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 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.
“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, said 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.”
He said one doctor had noted that although Chadwick’s mental impairment was “substantial” at the time of the killings it was not “totally impaired”.
Mr Gilchrist said it appeared that Chadwick now 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.”
Judge Mark Pelling QC will hand down his judgment at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.