Ex-councillor denies killing partner

EXCLUSIVEBy Benedict O'ConnorA FORMER councillor arrested on suspicion of the murder of his partner has vehemently denied killing her.Peter Wackett, speaking two days after an inquest into the death of Ann North, dismissed the suggestion he had any part in her death as “nonsense, absolute nonsense”.

EXCLUSIVE

By Benedict O'Connor

A FORMER councillor arrested on suspicion of the murder of his partner has vehemently denied killing her.

Peter Wackett, speaking two days after an inquest into the death of Ann North, dismissed the suggestion he had any part in her death as “nonsense, absolute nonsense”.


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Mr Wackett, who was arrested and held for 34 hours after the death of his alcoholic partner, added he had enlisted the help of top civil rights lawyer, Imran Khan, who was behind the Stephen Lawrence case, and was considering a private prosecution against Suffolk police.

No charges were brought against Mr Wackett in relation to Ms North's death and the inquest in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday failed to establish the cause of her death, with Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean recording an open verdict inquest.

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However, police brought eight other charges against Mr Wackett in relation to housing benefit fraud, on which he was subsequently cleared, and he felt he then became a police target.

Mr Wackett, of Wrought Avenue, Brandon, former landlord of the town's Five Bells pub, stood down from Forest Heath District Council following the death of Ms North.

When asked by the East Anglian Daily Times to state categorically whether he killed Ms North, he replied: “Good lord, no.”

During the inquest, evidence came to light that Ms North had made several allegations that she had been assaulted during their long relationship.

But Mr Wackett told the EADT: “It's just ridiculous, there was one allegation that she had been tied up and kept in the house for a week against her will. During that week she went to a pub in Brandon and she had her hair done.”

Mr Wackett was questioned by police about these allegations, but no charges were brought against him.

“She was in rehab for the best part of two years for her drinking, she was ill and it was the police who suggested the referral for psychiatric help,” he said.

Mr Wackett added he could account for his movements all day on January 15, 2003, the day Ms North was found face down in bed at the home the couple shared.

“It's probably the one day I know exactly what I was doing, I made two bank transactions, which record the time I made them,” he said.

“I went to the pub for a drink at 10.59am and, as a former pub landlord, I asked the barmaid not to serve me until 11am as I didn't want to get her into trouble.”

During the inquest police confirmed they could account for Mr Wackett's whereabouts during the day Ms North died.

“It was like a dream when they came to arrest me. The house had been sealed off for two days, which was fair enough, and I had been staying at the Elveden Inn,” he added.

“I spoke to a police officer, who said they would give the keys back to me, and then the cavalry turned up and arrested me. I remember thinking 'You must be joking'.”

Now the inquest is over, Mr Wackett said he wanted to put the ordeal behind him.

“I've been living in limbo since Ann died, the police kept my passport for 12 months. Ann and I had been due to move to Bulgaria before she died and it was my intention to go over there and get away from it all,” he added.

“I had lost my partner and I didn't have time to grieve, and I couldn't get away. They arrested me and it was all over the papers and then they found they had nothing.”

Mr Wackett also claimed he was twice breathalysed unnecessarily, with the test results negative on each occasion.

“I am considering bringing a private prosecution against the police for the way they treated me and have engaged Imran Khan, who has a history of bringing suits against the police and was behind the Stephen Lawrence case,” he said.

“It's not about compensation, I just feel I was unfairly treated. Mud sticks and there will still be some people out there who are suspicious of me.

“For months after it happened I didn't want to leave the house, but the police have not apologised and my name has not been cleared.”

After Mr Wackett's arrest, a toxicology report showed Ms North had consumed the equivalent of almost six times the legal drink-drive limit for driving.

During the inquest, Mr Wackett challenged police as to why he had been arrested before the toxicology report had been obtained.

He also asked why he had been arrested on suspicion of murder when it had not been clear whether a murder had even taken place.

Mr Wackett told the inquest he had received a letter from police when his bail had been cancelled which stated that police reserved the right to resurrect the investigation at any time.

Detective Sergeant Adrian Randall told the inquest he would be happy to provide a letter stating that would not happen, but Mr Wackett said he had not yet received any such letter.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “Suffolk Constabulary can confirm that it has received a complaint of 'false arrest' relating to an investigation into the sudden death of a woman from Brandon.

“Now that the coroner has publicly reviewed all of the evidence relating to this matter at an inquest into the woman's death, police are able to carry out a thorough investigation of this complaint.”

benedict.o'connor@eadt.co.uk

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