A very interesting case appeared in this week’s headlines emanating from convicted murderer Paul Chadwick from Bolton le Sands in north Lancashire. Last year, Chadwick murdered his partner Lisa Clay and their six year old son in a frenzied attack. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and diminished responsibility at the time of the attack and detained indefinitely in a secure hospital.
It appears Chadwick was the sole beneficiary under Ms Clay’s Will, but the law does not allow those convicted of murder or manslaughter to benefit from their crimes. Therefore, on the face of it, Chadwick cannot benefit from Ms Clay’s Will. However, Chadwick’s solicitor is instructed to make a claim to benefit from Ms Clay’s estate under the 1982 Forfeiture Act.
Chadwick must prove that ‘the justice of the case requires the effect of the rule to be so modified in that case due to exceptional circumstances in the conduct of the offender or deceased’. Chadwick’s solicitors argue that because he was suffering from ‘an abnormality of mental functioning’, this should allow the modification required under the clause in the Forfeiture Act.
If successful, it is claimed Mr Chadwick will inherit about £150,000.
Ms Clay’s family only received a few days notice to prepare their defence and they were horrified to learn that he is claiming for all legal costs to be paid from Ms Clay’s estate.
The case has been referred to a Chancery judge and will be heard later this year.
What do you think about Chadwick’s legal action?