Grieving family of wealthy heiress who died in swimming pool launch civil action against her property developer husband they believe may have been responsible for her death– after he was cleared by judge
- Paula Leeson, drowned aged 47, despite being described as a healthy woman
- Her husband Donald McPherson was accused of her murder but acquitted
- Now Paula’s family are taking civil against him to stop insurance claims
Relatives of a wealthy wife who died in a holiday swimming pool are taking legal action against her husband to stop him gaining her assets.
The family of Paula Leeson, who drowned aged 47 in Denmark, have launched civil proceedings against her former partner Donald McPherson.
Mr McPherson stood trial over the murder of Paula earlier this year with the prosecution alleging he had been attempting to claim £3.5 million on her life insurance and other assets.
But Mr Justice Goose QC directed he be found not guilty after ruling the evidence was not strong enough for a jury to be able to reach a verdict – but said it was “clearly more likely” that the defendant had killed her than the alternative explanation of a tragic accident.
The Leeson family remain convinced that he was responsible and have appointed a barrister for civil proceedings launched against the widower. Mr McPherson says he did not kill her and is innocent.
Paula’s brother Ben, 46, said: ‘I’ve not got any faith in the legal system. But it’s something we have to do.
Paula Leeson, who drowned aged 47 in Denmark, was married to Donald McPherson, 47
Property developer Donald McPherson, 47, was acquitted of murdering his wealthy wife
‘It’s not for financial reasons. But as long as it means he won’t have gained from Paula’s death, then it’s worth it for us.
‘It was hard enough to lose Paula. But the one thing we had was the trial and thinking: “At least he’s not going to get away with it.” Then you’re dashed again,’ he added to the Times.
The idea of the civil case is to try and halt any insurance claims or assets the family believe should go to her son, Ben.
There is also a review hearing into Paula’s death which is said to be due next week.
Her relatives are hoping it could lead to a full inquest, which could make an ‘unlawful killing’ finding.
The trial had heard that Paula was a healthy mother of one found drowned in a 4ft-deep swimming pool in June 2017.
Danish summer house where Paula Leeson drowned in a four foot deep swimming pool
Experts found 13 separate injuries on her body, which could have been caused while being restrained – or being rescued.
After her death Mr McPherson transferred £27,000 from his joint account with her to his personal accounts to help clear debts of £67,000.
He was painted in court as a serial liar with a string of aliases and 27 convictions for dishonesty and was jailed in 2000 for his part in stealing £12 million from a German bank.
But Mr Justice Goose QC felt there was not enough evidence in the murder trial for jurors to be able to make a decision.
He said at the time: ‘I have come to the conclusion that as a matter of law that the evidence in relation to how Paula Leeson came to drown is not sufficiently strong to allow you to reach a proper verdict in relation to the defendant causing it by killing her.
‘I understand how difficult it will be therefore for the family to accept from their point of view the loss of a daughter. This court has obvious sympathy for them, but the law must be applied equally.’
After his acquittal, Mr McPherson released a statement saying: “On the 6th of June 2017, a terrible accident occurred in Norre Nebel, Denmark, that led to the death of my wife, Paula Leeson.
“A tragic accident is what it was and it saddens me, deeply, that the events in question should ever have been seen differently and that I was ever suspected of playing a part in Paula’s death.”
MailOnline have made efforts to contact his lawyer over the new civil case.
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