The brooding Screes
were the only witness as the corpse that became known as the Lady of the
Lake was slid into the midnight black waters of Wastwater. It was October
in 1976. It would be eight years before the corpse re-emerged as amateur
divers found what appeared to be a puzzling carpet bag tied to a concrete
slab. The divers had half expected to find the remains of missing French
hillwalker, Veronique Marre, but her body was in fact found some years
later on the sharp crags that looked down on the lake.
Diver Neil Pritt had first noticed
the odd bundle at 110 feet depth, but thought it rubbish. Three months
later in March 1984 he and friends alerted police as it became plain it
was a body. The features of the corpse were said to have been wax-like,
preserved in the icy deep waters. Six days later friends of Margaret Hogg
recognised the described lady as Margaret Hogg. Within hours police were
knocking at the door of Peter Hoggs home in Surrey.
He had worked as the cool headed pilot of 757 jets for Air Europe, while
Margaret had been an air hostess. But their marriage had come to a stormy
end and she had been involved in a three year relationship with banker,
Graham Ryan, before a violent argument culminated in Peter Hogg strangling
his wife. Mrs Hogg has been described by friends as "friendly and
extravert", while Peter was more intoverted . The couple also had
an age difference of 19 years (56...37 years respectively).Had fate had
been kinder to Peter Hogg, 56, Wastwater lake would probably have kept
his dark secret forever. He was arrested just six days after the discovery
of the body. The police investigation in the Lakes was led by Chief Inspector
There were three things led to Hogg appearing in the dock at the Old Bailey
charged with murder. Firstly he was not to know that a French students
disappearance in 1983 would spark off police and amateur diving searches
of the lakes shore. Neither was he to know that had he rowed just
ten yards further out into the lake that night before lowering the carpet
bag shrouded corpse of his wife the weighted body would have sunk beyond
normal diving depths. And lastly he had forgotten that the gold ring left
on the corpse had engraved on its hidden inside face both his and his
But fate was sometimes smiling on Peter Hogg. After his early arraignment
he was granted £ 20,000 bail, unusual for those facing a murder
charge. And after an Old Bailey jury found him guilty of manslaughter,
and not murder he was jailed for a mere four years. Serving three years
in an open prison. The Wasdale that he went to that dark October night
was well known to Peter Hogg for between 1941-45 he had been a boarder
pupil at Keswick School and he returned to the Lakes several times from
the south of England.
Killer tried at the
At the Old Bailey
Peter Hogg denied murdering his wife. His counsel told the jury that Hogg
was provoked for years by the unfaithful and bad behaviour
of his wife. He claimed Margaret Hogg flaunted her affair
with another man. Patrick Back QC said she was a piece of erring
humanity. The tabloid press had a field day describing Mrs Hogg
as a cow in trial reports. The QC said his clients main
defence was provocation. The law recognises that within every human
being lies the fires of emotion and you can provoke a human being just
so far. He said this provocation had lasted years with Mrs Hogg
flaunting her affair to all and sundry. Graham Ryan, the other man in
Mrs Hoggs life, told the court they had been away together in Dorset
the week before Mrs Hogg died. Her return from this rural trip sparked
off the fatal row.
Describing that fateful night Hogg was asked: Had you murdered your
wife? He replied: Murder is not the right word. Certainly
she died. I think I strangled her. We had an argument, she did her usual
act, she was always throwing things at me. Describing the row he
said: She was scratching my face, kicking me in the crotch and I
belted her. She flew at me hitting and kicking , then I grabbed her round
the neck and squeezed hard. I realised one of her eyes had glazed and
I let go. She fell back on the floor and I realised she was dead.
Hogg was described in court as cool and calculating in the
minutes after the strangling. He changed his clothes and trussed up the
body before working out how to dispose of it.
Describing his drive north and rowing an inflatable boat out onto the
pitch black lake he said: It was the longest night of my life. You
dont realise how difficult it was. I nearly went in with her.
He told the court: I was in a perfectly logical frame of mind once
I had recovered from my original horror. Possibly after my 30 years training
I put my mind to dealing with the current emergency. Thus he reported
his wife as missing to Surrey police a month later. It took the jury just
over an hour to find Hogg not guilty of murder. He was jailed for three
years for manslaughter and another year was added for obstructing a coroner
and to perjury in divorce proceedings.
It was a slightly
misty August morning and the Wasdale Youth Hostel had its usual rush of
fellwalkers and visitors packing up and setting off after breakfast. Among
those leaving was a well built 21 year old French girl, Veronique Mireille
Marre. She had only passable knowledge of English, but years of walking
in the French Alps had made her well able to cope with a walking tour
in the Lake District.
Yet Veronique never reached her planned destination of Coniston that evening.
And within days her anxious parents were telephoning the authorities in
England. Despite an extensive search of the mountain paths between Wasdale
and Grasmere Veronique vanished without trace. Her disappearance and the
subsequent search of both the hills and the shores of Wastwater somehow
came to link the two deaths with the lake. Police and tracker dogs spread
out over the boulder fields that make the awe inspiring rock slide of
But no trace of the young woman was found. It was a further two years
of soul destroying uncertainty for her parents in Paris before a 53 year
old Sellafield engineer stumbled on the sad resting place of Veronique.
Mike Parkin, who lived in lower Wasdale was rock scrambling one May afternoon
among the boulder field when he found some clothing. Most had rotted
away but there was enough to indicate it belonged to a girl and there
were some French marked labels. I went a little further up a side
gully and saw the rest of her belongings and remains. I realised then
what it was and went for the police. The remains were 1,100
feet above the dark lake waters at the foot of a 300 foot rock spur known
prophetically as Broken Rib Crag. An inquest afterwards heard that the
state of the few remains meant a cause of death could not be officially
given, but the remains were consistent with a fall from height. Veroniques
discovery came just two months after the fate of the other body in Wasdale
was the subject of the Old Bailey trial of Peter Hogg.
The other Lady in the Lake Tragedies
*In 1998 Mrs Carol Park's body was found at the bottom of Coniston Water
after she too had been killed in a savage attack in 1976 and then disposed
of. The mother-of-three's husband Gordon Park, 54, was later charged with
murder but then freed as police dropped the case against him. Park, a
63-year-old former teacher, has always protested his innocence and his
lawyers say they now have fresh evidence to support his case.
Convicted in January
2005, Park was jailed after the prosecution argued that he had bludgeoned
his wife Carol to death in 1976 and then dumped her body in Coniston Water.
He protested his innocence. Park was found hanging in his cell at HMP
Garth, Leyland, Lancashire on January 25 2010 - his 66th birthday.
*Sheena Owlitt's body
was found in Crummock Water in 1988. It was weighted down with an engine
block and had only been in the lake for three weeks when discovered by
amateur divers. Sheena's fingerprints helped in tracing her identity.
When police interviewed her husband Kevin they found blood stains in an
upstairs room and their home in Leeds and it was not long before Owlitt
confessed and was jailed for life.