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Gordon David WARDELL





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Prime suspect in deaths of several prostitutes
Number of victims: 1 +
Date of murder: September 12, 1994
Date of birth: May 8, 1953
Victim profile: His wife Carol, 39
Method of murder: Asphyxia (probably a combination of pressure on the neck and smothering)
Location: Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment (minimum 18 years) on December 21, 1995

In September 1994, Carol Wardell, the manager of a building society in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was murdered and around 15,000 stolen from the branch.

Her husband, Gordon, appeared at a press conference and told reporters he had returned home from the pub on a Sunday afternoon to find his wife being held captive by a man who was wearing a clown mask and was armed with a knife.

Wardell claimed he had been punched and forced to the ground and fell unconscious after a chloroform-soaked cloth was pressed over his face.

Wardell, his eyes hidden behind dark glasses, told journalists: "A man got hold of my wife and was threatening her with a knife."

He claimed he had been tied up by the gang who took his wife off to the building society early the following morning.

But within a month police realised his story was a pack of lies and he was arrested.

Sentencing him to life imprisonment, the judge at Oxford Crown Court said Wardell had gone to elaborate lengths, including tying himself up and inflicting injuries, to make it appear as if the couple were the victim of robbers.

In August last year, Wardell, 54, was told he would not be eligible for release for another 18 years.


Husband 'faked raid to conceal murder'

Independent, The (London)

Nov 15, 1995

The husband of a building society manageress beat, trussed and gagged himself after suffocating his wife to make it appear she had been killed during a robbery which had gone wrong, an Oxford jury was told yesterday.

Gordon Wardell, 42, a car component executive, of Meriden, Warwickshire, denies murdering his wife Carol, 39, at their home in September last year.

Oxford Crown Court was told that Mr Wardell killed the Woolwich manageress before dumping her body and stealing cash from the branch where she worked to make it seem she had lost her life in a raid. Richard Wakerley QC said Mr Wardell concocted "an elaborate scheme to quite literally get away with murder".

The jury was told that Mrs Wardell, a keyholder to the Nuneaton branch of the Woolwich, was asphyxiated at the couple's house before her husband launched his scheme to "deceive and divert suspicion from himself".

Her body was found in a layby two miles from Nuneaton by a motorist on 21 September. No attempt had been made to conceal the body. Later that morning, the apparent raid on the building society was discovered. No signs of forced entry were found and the alarms did not sound but cash was missing and Mrs Wardell's personal security code had been used to open the vault at 5am that day.

At 2pm the same day, armed police surrounded the couple's home and discovered Mr Wardell bound on the lounge floor. Mr Wakerley said: "It was a remarkable sight. He was on the floor lying on his back in the middle of the room dressed only in his underpants. His clothes and shoes were close by.

"He was apparently gagged with a strip of cloth and tied to a refuse sack holder with two ratchet ties around his wrists. He was conscious and alert but apparently had some bruising on his stomach."

Mr Wardell told police and ambulance staff he returned from a local pub just before 10pm on Sunday night to find men in his house. They knocked him unconscious and he had not regained his senses until Monday morning. Asked when he had last seen his wife, he said: "Last night - she went off with those men that were here."

Mr Wakerley said ambulance staff later said Mr Wardell's blood pressure was not high and his heart rate was steady despite his reported ordeal. He added: "The prosecution say that that was all a sham. It was part of a false scheme to induce the police to believe that Carol had been killed by a gang of robbers after they took her under force to the building society - leaving him unconscious and trussed up.

"He was not attacked by any gang. He was not then rendered unconscious and tied up. He tied and put the gag on himself. His bruises were self- inflicted.

"We say he did that after he killed his wife and left her body in the layby, After that he had been to the building society to fake the robbery and the scene at the house which confronted those police officers was all part of the sham." During the two days following the discovery of his wife's body, Mr Wardell had "spoken at great length about what he claimed had happened to him."


Life for husband who murdered 'devoted' wife

By Jason Bennetto - Independent, The (London)

Dec 21, 1995

The husband of a building society manageress was jailed for life yesterday for murdering his wife after a jury rejected his story that the couple were victims of a gang of armed robbers.

Gordon Wardell, 42, had claimed that he had been drugged and gagged by criminals for 16 hours during a raid.

A jury at Oxford Crown Court unanimously rejected his story and decided he strangled his 39-year-old wife Carol last September and dumped her in a lay-by near Nuneaton, in Warwickshire.

Sentencing Wardell, Mr Justice Cresswell said: "You are an extremely dangerous, evil and devious man. You killed your wife in a brutal manner then cynically attempted to escape detection by going to elaborate lengths to make it appear that your crime was the work of a gang of robbers.

"This murder was an outrage to your wife, her family, and to everybody who knew her."

There were gasps of "yes" from the public gallery and Mrs Wardell's mother, Joan, burst into tears. Wardell, a 6ft 3ins tall fitness fanatic, looked pale and shook his head.

Before passing sentence the court was told of a previous conviction when Wardell, as a 17-year-old student, was jailed for four years for wounding with intent after indecently assaulting and stabbing the wife of his science master.

The murder trial was told that Wardell staged a raid at the Nuneaton branch of the Woolwich building society, stealing pounds 14,000 and leaving one of his wife's sandals in the office in an attempt to cover his tracks. He bound and gagged himself at the couple's home in Meriden, Warwickshire, where he was found by police. He told them a gang had kidnapped his wife, who was found suffocated.

Carol Wardell's mother, Joan Heslop, 67, welcomed the guilty verdict and said that her daughter could now "rest in peace". She said: "She loved life. To have it taken away so tragically in such a way was terrible."

Mrs Heslop said she had suspected her son-in-law since the day after the funeral where Wardell had continued his charade of the grieving widower. "It was just a mother's feeling I suppose," she said.

Mrs Wardell's sister, Susan Field, 42, said: "Carol was the linchpin of the family. She kept us together because the family meant everything to her."

Detective Superintendent Tony Bayliss, who led the murder investigation, said that a motive for the killing has never been fully established though one theory was that Wardell was at risk of losing his job as an executive for a car parts company. "Inevitably it led to financial problems but I believe the murder was domestically oriented," said Mr Bayliss.

Carol Wardell was described as devoted to her husband, whom she married in 1982. She was said to have concentrated on her career at the Woolwich after finding out she could not have children.

The court was told that Wardell had not had sex with his wife for six months before her death and the relationship worsened because he had suffered a period of redundancy.


SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: PC-domestic/Sex.

MO: Killed wife; prime suspect in deaths of several prostitutas.

DISPOSITION: Life term for wifes murder, 1995.


Case No: 2004/1098/MTR


Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 23/08/2007


Between :

 REGINA Claimant
 - and - 

Mr. Justice Teare :

1. This is an application under Schedule 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 by Gordon David Wardell (the applicant).

2. On 21 December 1995 the applicant, having been convicted of murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment. On 1 July 19996 the Home Secretary set the period to be served to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence at 18 years (the minimum term).

3. The applicant is an existing prisoner within the meaning of Schedule 22 of the CJA 2003 and has made an application under paragraph 3 of that Schedule. My task is to specify that part of his sentence which the applicant must serve before the early release provisions will apply to him. The specified part of his sentence cannot however be longer that the minimum term notified to him by the Secretary of State.

4. In considering this matter I must have regard to the seriousness of the offence and in doing so I have had had regard to (i) the general principles set out in Schedule 21, (ii) the recommendations made by the trial judge (18 years) and the Lord Chief Justice (18 years) and (iii) the representations made by the applicant and by relatives of the victim.

5. I am also required to have regard to the effect that section 67 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 would have had if the applicant had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, provided that I am satisfied that, if he had been so sentenced, the length of his sentence would have  been treated as reduced by a particular period under that section: therefore the court takes account of any period that a person has spent in custody only because he was committed to custody by an order of the court made in connection with proceedings relating to the offence of  murder of which has been convicted. I am satisfied that in the present case I should have had regard to a period spent in custody by the applicant of 14 months.

6. The applicant was born on 8 May 1953 and so was 42 at the time of sentence. The offence was committed between 10 and 13 September 1994 when he was 41.

7. The victim of the murder was the applicant's wife Carol who was the manager of a branch of a building society. On 12 September 1994 she was found lying on grass verge adjacent to a lay by in open country. A post-mortem revealed that she had received numerous minor injuries to her head and body and that the cause of death was asphyxia, probably a combination of pressure on the neck and smothering. The defendant denied his guilt. The trial judge, in his report to the Home Secretary, said that the applicant went to elaborate lengths, including breaking into and robbing the building society managed by his wife, tying himself up and inflicting injuries on himself, to make it appear as if his wife had been taken by a gang of robbers to the building society where she worked and subsequently killed.  14,126.67 in cash was missing from the building society which was never recovered.

8. I infer from the missing cash that this was a murder committed for gain. There may have been additional motivations but gain appears to have been one of them. It follows that the starting point is 30 years.

9. The offence is aggravated by a considerable degree of planning.

10. I cannot identify a mitigating factor.

11. The conduct of the applicant in prison, which is the subject of his representations, can have little if any effect on the seriousness of the offence. His progress, whilst commendable, is not exceptional such as might possibly affect the minimum term. It will however be a matter which the Parole Board will consider after the minimum term has been served.

12. Applying the general principles in Schedule 21 of the CJA 2003 the minimum period to be served would be 32 years. The recommendations of the trial judge and Lord Chief Justice were for the much shorter period of 18 years. However, those recommendations were made long before the passing of the 2003 Act. In any event the court cannot specify as the part of the sentence to be served before the early release provisions apply a part of the sentence longer than the minimum period notified to the applicant by the Home Secretary, which was 18 years.

13. I therefore specify as the part of the sentence to be served before the early release provisions apply as 18 years less 14 months.



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