THE man once charged with one of the region’s most notorious murders has broken his silence to clear his name once and for all and to demand an apology from police.

'It was a normal, working day...until I went home and found my wife dead on the living room floor'

Peter Heron has given his first in-depth interviews for 25 years to clear his name and urge Durham Police to finally catch the man who murdered his wife, Ann, in Darlington on August 3, 1990.

“I am not prepared to be known as ‘the man who got away with it’ because I did not do it,” the 80-year-old former company director said.

The Northern Echo: MURDER VICTIM: Ann Heron was found outside her home with her throat cut in 1990

Mr Heron, now 80, was charged in November, 2005 with murdering his second wife Ann who had her throat cut at the family home, Aeolian House, on the A67 between Darlington and Middleton St George.

However, the case against him collapsed in early 2006 before any evidence was heard at crown court.

He is entirely innocent in the eyes of the law but Mr Heron believes that many people have unfairly convinced of his guilt ever since the arrest and is demanding an apology.

He also wants Durham Police to once again focus on the case and the blue car, driven by a sun tanned, dark haired man in his early 30s, that was seen by five people driving away at speed from the family home on the day of Ann’s murder.

Mr Heron was arrested in 2005 after a tiny speck of DNA evidence found on Ann Heron was reconstituted and shown to be the DNA of Mr Heron. However Mr Heron has pointed out that the DNA was found in his own home and on his own wife and should not be seriously considered as proving anything.

He said: “You may think that I would have been happy that the case against me had collapsed but no, quite the opposite. I was furious. I had been robbed of the opportunity to stand in front of my peers and clear my name in a court of law.

“I am not prepared for evermore to be known as ‘the man who got away with it’ and I insisted that the case go forward. I was advised, however, that sadly, because the police had left it so late to discontinue, this could not happen. I remember asking at the time, ‘where on earth is British justice?’

“On this 25th anniversary, I am going public myself for the first time to highlight exactly what I and my family have been through. Needless to say, my whole world collapsed not once, but twice: firstly when I found Ann dead in our home and then again in 2005, when I was arrested. My good name was absolutely destroyed and my character assassinated for the rest of my life.”

Mr Heron revealed that he was not even informed by the Crown Prosecution Service, Durham Police or prosecution lawyers about the collapse of the case against him. Instead it was two Northern Echo journalists who told him after the police revealed that Mr Heron did not have a case to answer.

His daughter, Debbie Simpson, has long campaigned to clear her father’s name. Mr Heron has considered suing Durham Police but explained he has repeatedly been advised that the rules allowing police to make an arrest are very wide-ranging and consequently legal action would almost certainly fail.

He said he has not gone public before because Mrs Simpson had been the face of the campaign and he had always worked with the police in the hope the real killer would be caught.

A spokesman for Durham Police stressed the case would never be closed, although there is no current investigation. He said: "“The investigation has been the subject of regular reviews over the years, the most recent completed in January 2010. This was carried out by a detective superintendent, who had no previous links to the case and who examined every action taken and every piece of evidence and intelligence gathered."

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said it would be inappropriate to comment on an investigation which is still open.