Nine years after John Parker died from complications during surgery for a stab wound, a bitter family row is raging over who was responsible.
The dead man’s brother Philip still wants to see widow Elaine in court for inflicting the wound, which put the 58-year-old on the operating table at the Royal Preston Hospital.
But Mrs Parker, insists the injury was an accident, caused when he stumbled towards her during a row in the kitchen of their home in Gregson Lane, Hoghton.
He was suffering from an undiagnosed heart condition and didn’t survive the anaesthetic during the operation.
Speaking publicly for the first time about her husband’s death, she said: “I’ll not sit back and let them accuse me of killing John. I lost my husband and went through years of hell. I’ve had to face a lot of bad press.”
She added: “I’ve lost my husband and in some ways my best friend. If they think I could hurt anyone, let alone John, it just shows how little they know me.”
Philip Parker, 61, is still looking for answers and says he is now prepared to take the case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman following the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to drop charges against his sister-in-law.
“Irrespective of any medical condition or failings my brother would not have been in hospital and would not have died that night if he had not been stabbed,” he said. Brother John suffered the knife wound after returning home from a drinking session and rowing with his wife as she made tea in the kitchen.
Mrs Parker claimed her husband of 34 years was drunk - he had driven home four times over the legal limit - and as he stumbled forward he fell on to the knife she was holding as she tried to catch him.
However, following an inquest in 2010, Lancashire Coroner, Dr James Adeley, said Mrs Parker’s evidence was inconsistent and a “deliberate thrust” was the more likely cause of the injury.
Mr Parker was taken to the Royal Preston where surgeons carried out an exploratory operation. But he died from heart failure due to complications with the anaesthetic. It was discovered he had aeortic stenosis - a disease of the heart valves.
Mrs Parker claimed her husband had been an alcoholic and regularly drove while over the limit.
“The drinking and driving used to really upset me. He could have killed himself. He could have killed someone else,” she said. “At the time of the inquest I was in a terrible state. I was looking after my father who was 100 years old and I just don’t feel I got my say.”
Mrs Parker was charged with manslaughter but, in June 2006 as the trial was set to begin at Preston Crown Court, the prosecution offered no evidence and a not guilty verdict was returned. Recorder of Preston Judge Anthony Russell QC agreed the evidence Mr Parker died during surgery would make a conviction for manslaughter “unsafe.”
A review of the case was undertaken and a lesser charge of wounding considered, but the CPS concluded it would not be in the public interest to pursue any further charges against Mrs Parker.
Philip Parker says: “It is very much in the public interest. Somebody else could be in the same position as my brother.”
In a letter to the Parker family, Ken MacDonald QC, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “The prosecution and counsel considered it was not in the public interest to proceed on a lesser charge (of wounding).
“Mrs Parker had been accused of killing her husband and had faced a manslaughter charge for over a year before it was dropped. John Parker had indicated to both ambulance staff and police officers at the scene that he did not want any action to be taken against his wife. Prosecuting counsel advised that in the circumstances, Mrs Parker was unlikely to be sent to prison, even if she was convicted of a lesser offence. Once again, the judge described the decision not to add a new charge as ‘perfectly proper.’”