OVER thirty years ago, Gloucestershire was left in shock after Stonehouse resident Danny Gardiner murdered a man who was set to give evidence against him and dumped his mutilated remains in a lake.
Gardiner was due to stand trial on a charge of armed robbery.
The body of Alan ‘Chalkie’ White, from Minchinhampton, was then found by a family who were walking by the lake in the Cotswold Water Park, near Cirencester.
Forensic evidence later proved that the body had been in the water for several weeks, if not months.
When the body floated to the surface, Gardiner fled to Israel, sparking a major international police hunt.
He was eventually arrested 18-months later after the search extended as far as Jamaica.
Following his arrest, Gardiner pleaded not guilty to the murder.
But in April 1992 at Winchester Crown Court, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years.
When the verdict was announced, Gardiner had to be dragged shouting and swearing from the dock. He continued to deny that he was guilty.
The court heard how Mr White, 35, suffered 14 stab wounds.
His body was wrapped in a blue boat cover, tied to a holdall containing 55lbs of rocks and thrown into a lake.
In 2001, Gardiner finally admitted to the murder of Mr White after his own son died in a police car chase at the age of 20.
He attended his son’s funeral in handcuffs with a number of officers at the scene.
Following his son’s funeral, Gardiner finally admitted the murder.
In 2006, a judge said that he could apply for parole in 2009 provided he could convince the authorities that he was no longer a danger.
He took into account that Gardiner had shown remorse since the murder and had completed a series of courses to deal with his offending.
A report from 2006 suggested he no longer posed a risk of significant harm to the public.
After spending 18 years in high-security prisons, Gardiner was allowed out on day release on his own for the first time in 2009.
He was doing some voluntary work as a painter and decorator next door to where politicians from the Home Affairs select committee were discussing how to tackle knife crime in Britain.
After being invited to speak by the chairman of the committee Keith Vaz, Gardiner made an emotional speech urging people not to carry knives.
“The only thing I can see working to stop people carrying a knife is a massive drive around what will happen if you take another human life,” he told the parliamentary committee meeting.
“They need to be terrified by that – because it’s reality.
“I’ve seen visions of my victim.
“I’ve heard his voice. I’ve felt his presence in my cell. I’ve been up at 3am with horrific nightmares.
“Some of those nightmares are horrendous. I used to wake physically trembling and sweating.
“You can go to church like some people do, and ask for forgiveness, but whatever you do, you will still be haunted.
“You will still be a killer.”