House of horrors faces the bulldozers after 33 years

Judge William Openshaw
Judge William Openshaw
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The house where a Preston judge was brutally murdered is to be knocked down.

The secluded six-bedroomed property in Garstang Road, Broughton, scene of the gruesome slaying of Judge William Openshaw in 1981, will be bulldozed if city councillors give the go-ahead.

New owners of the now-empty Park House want to flatten it and build a modern replacement 50m further back in the middle of its three-and-a-half acre gardens.

A planning application has been submitted to Preston City Council seeking permission to demolish the old property and construct a four-bed family home in its place. The matter is expected go before the city’s planning committee by the beginning of September.

Park House, which borders the King George’s playing fields on the east side of the A6 in Broughton Village, hit the headlines worldwide when Judge Openshaw was viciously stabbed by a man he had sent to borstal 13 years earlier.

Petty thief John Smith, 31, was said to be hell-bent on revenge as he hid all night in the rafters of the house’s detached garage before leaping on his victim as he tried to get into his car for his morning journey to work at Preston Crown Court.

Judge Openshaw was stabbed 12 times in the head, neck and back and died almost immediately. Smith fled the scene and flagged down a passing motorist, kidnapping him at knifepoint and ordering him to drive to Scotland.

The driver was later abandoned, tied to a tree, as Smith headed across the border alone. But he was soon caught and tried at Leeds Crown Court in November 1981.

He admitted he had committed the murder to settle an old score and showed no remorse as he was sent down for a minimum 25 years.