A husband who murdered his wife and blamed it on a gang of thugs wearing clown masks in a fake TV appeal has been released after 26 years in prison.
Gordon Wardell was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for the murder of his wife Carol, 39, who he claimed had been kidnapped by men wearing “clown masks”.
Callous Wardell, then aged 42, killed Carol and dumped her body in a layby on Monday September 12, 1994, then staged the aftermath of a raid at their home in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
He told police – who found him tied up and gagged in his underwear at the property after Carol’s body was discovered – that he had been attacked and drugged by a gang after returning home to find them holding his wife in his arms.
Wardell appeared at a police news conference in a wheelchair, wearing orange-tinted sunglasses and visibly shaken days after the killing, and his over-the-top performance immediately made him a suspect.
Gordon Wardell with his wife Carol, who he murdered in September 1994 – before trying to blame it on a gang of thug men wearing ‘clown masks’
Wardell presented an elaborate alibi at a police press conference, shouting through crocodile tears that his wife ‘worked hard’
Despite a lot of emotion and crocodile tears, the only kind words the supposedly grieving widower could say about his wife at the press conference a few days after her death was that she ” worked hard.”
He described in detail to reporters how, when he returned home, he found a man wearing a clown mask and dark blue jumpsuit threatening his wife at knifepoint.
He said he was grabbed on both sides, forced to the ground and lost consciousness after a cloth was put over his face. Wardell said he didn’t remember anything else until he woke up later, bound and gagged.
During the press conference, Wardell was asked questions regarding a prior conviction for aggravated battery. He responded that he did not see how the question was relevant and reiterated that all he wanted was for his wife’s killers to be found.
On Sunday, October 2, 1994, police, with Wardell’s assistance, conducted a reconstruction of his movements on the Sunday evening before his wife was found murdered.
He retraced his steps, having left his home in Meriden, he had gone to Coventry to post a few letters to the main sorting office before going to a pub on the outskirts of Coventry where he had a couple of drinks before returning home to find his wife. held at the point of a knife.
Police hoped the reconstruction, which was covered by local and national media, might jog someone’s memory so they could come forward with new information.
It was also a ruse to allow Wardell to get involved since the police considered him a serious suspect.
Wardell was previously convicted of serious sexual assault and grievous bodily harm in the 1970s, for which he spent time in prison.
Carol Wardell was a branch manager at Woolwich Building Society and was robbed of more than £14,000 on the day of her murder.
Wardell was jailed for life in 1995 after being convicted of murdering his wife, but was quietly released on license in December 2021.
How Wardell Gave FIVE Signs He Murdered His Wife Carol
Body language expert Cliff Lansley, who trained staff at the US Department of Homeland Security, says there were already signs that Gordon Wardell had killed his wife Carol before his arrest.
At the press conference, Wardell didn’t blink as he recalled how he was attacked by an unknown group of thugs.
Cliff said: “It could mean that he’s repeated this story with that in mind and he’s replaying the video, and he’s focusing on the details of that video and playing it in front of the cameras.”
Wardell also interrupted his speech. “The pauses give us an indication of how much cognitive load or thinking is going on here to make sure it constructs a story in a plausible and believable way.”
At the police reenactment three weeks later, he glared at the camera when asked by reporters: “It’s almost like you can hear in his head the words, ‘Don’t attack me, I tell the truth. Stay away. Don’t ask me difficult questions, otherwise I will retaliate,” the expert said.
Wardell keeps pursing his lips, “This could be the beginnings of anger, he’s ready for a fight here.”
When he talks about the killers, he shakes his head: “The nodding could be a giveaway. »
The rebuild was widely covered by national and local press and television, as the story made headlines across the UK.
Wardell’s lies began to unravel – police discovered he was visiting prostitutes in Coventry’s red light district – and he was arrested on Thursday October 20, 1994.
A jury at Oxford Crown Court heard that Wardell staged a raid on the Nuneaton branch of the Woolwich building society, stealing £14,000 and leaving one of his wife’s sandals in the office in an attempt to cover your tracks.
He tied and gagged himself at the couple’s home where he was found by police. He told them that a gang had kidnapped his wife, who was found strangled.
The jury unanimously rejected his story after a six-week trial during which 128 witnesses were called.
In December 1995, Wardell was sentenced to life in prison. The Home Secretary set Wardell’s minimum rate at 18.
Sentencing Wardell, Judge Cresswell said: “You are an extremely dangerous, wicked and devious man. You brutally killed your wife, then cynically attempted to evade detection by doing everything in your power to make it appear that your crime was the work of a gang of thieves.
“This murder was a scandal to your wife, her family and everyone who knew her.”
There were gasps of “yes” from the public gallery and Ms Wardell’s mother, Joan, broke down in tears. Wardell, a 6-foot-3 fitness fanatic, looked pale and shook his head.
Following the conviction, Carol’s mother, Joan Heslop, said: “Carol will now be able to rest in peace. She loved life and was full of life. Seeing him taken away like that was terrible.
Detective Superintendent Tony Bayliss, who led the murder investigation, said the motive for the killing was never fully established, although one theory was that Wardell was at risk of losing his executive job at a retail firm. car parts.
“Inevitably it led to financial problems, but I think the killing was domestic,” he said at the time.
MailOnline can reveal Wardell was quietly released on license in December 2021. This was his fifth review before the Parole Board. Wardell is now 70 years old.
Wardell was involved in reconstructions in a police ruse to implicate himself in crime
Wardell was sentenced to life imprisonment for a minimum of 18 years. He was released after spending 26 years behind bars.
A Parole Board spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a Parole Board panel has ordered the release of Gordon Wardell following an oral hearing in December 2021.
“Parole Board decisions focus solely on the risk a prisoner might pose to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.
“A panel will carefully consider a wide range of evidence, including details of the original crime and any evidence of changes in behavior, and will also explore the harm caused and the impact of the crime on the victims.
“Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports before a hearing. Testimony such as probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as personal statements from the victim may be presented at the hearing.
“It is common for the prisoner and witnesses to be questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a whole day or more.
“Parole reviews are conducted thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.