Sunday, December 27, 2009

Father compensated £8,100 for detective work leading to conviction of son-in-law for daughter's death

Last updated at 1:56 AM on 24th December 2009

A man who carried out his own investigation to prove his daughter was murdered by her husband has been given £8,000 for his efforts. Retired college lecturer Bert Whitehead, 83, spent six years proving his daughter Anita Stead's death was not an accident.  She was 39 when she died in 2002.

Her husband Alan Stead locked the mother-of-four in a computer room inside their garage before starting the fire. He claimed the fire was an accident caused by an electrical fault. Mr Whitehead collected witness statements that led to his son-in-law being convicted of murder.

"I had to keep fighting to the bitter end to get justice for Anita,' he said yesterday. 'It is what any father would do. My family has lost forever a beautiful daughter, joyful, well-educated, well-informed and wonderful mother."

Delivery driver Stead, 43, was jailed for life at Stafford Crown Court in February. A judge this week awarded Mr Whitehead £8,098 "to compensate him in respect of his expenses and loss of time."

Mr Whitehead said: "I wasn't allowed in court, but I sent all the information I had to the judge, and he agreed with me. This isn't a reward or profit or anything. It simply amounts to the effort I had to put in, in order to achieve my objectives. For two years and 10 months I was on my own, against a bureaucratic wall, and in the end the only person who listened to me was the coroner."

Judge Mark Eades told Stafford Crown Court: 'Under my powers, I find, as a fact, that Mr Whitehead has been active in the apprehension of the defendant and is therefore eligible to receive a reasonable sum to compensate him in respect of his expenses and loss of time. "In respect of what he has done to effect the apprehension of the defendant, he should receive £8,098, paid by the High Sheriff of Staffordshire."

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