A WIDOWER has claimed his hopes of being finally cleared of his wife's murder have been dashed by police days before the 31st anniversary of her death.

In his twilight years 86-year-old Peter Heron's only wish is to be cleared of suspicion over the killing of his wife, Ann, on August 3 1990.

Through his solicitor, Mr Heron issued a complaint against Durham Police over their handling of the original murder investigation and his arrest in 2005.

Charges against him were dropped but Mr Heron believes he has been living under a cloud of suspicion ever since.

The Northern Echo: STABBED: Ann Heron

The family discovered on Monday that Durham Police have dismissed their complaints and say they have no case to answer.

The family's solicitor Alistair Smith will now write to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) asking them to

reinvestigate the case with an "independent, objective mind."

The Heron family has worked with Jen Jarvie, a Private Death Investigator and university lecturer, who has uncovered a "viable" suspect for the killing.

Michael Benson, then 40, was on the run from prison at the time Mrs Heron was murdered as she sunbathed at the family home in Middleton St George.

They believe Ms Jarvie has uncovered compelling evidence that Benson, now deceased, carried out the killing but say Durham Police have refused to properly investigate the findings.

Ms Jarvie said: "The timing of this decision by Durham Police is incredibly insensitive.

"Peter and his family are discovering today, the day before the anniversary of Ann's death, that Durham refuses to accept any responsibility for the way they investigated the case and for arresting Peter when there was no evidence pointing to his guilt.

The Northern Echo:

"There was a chance to rectify the mistakes of the past and they have chosen not to take it.

"The matter will now be referred to the IOPC by the family's solicitor and they will be asking for a thorough and objective investigation.

"In this country you do not have to prove you are not guilty but in Peter's case we have not only done that but have evidence pointing to a viable suspect. "

Mr Heron's life changed forever the day he arrived home after work to find Ann’s half-naked body face-down in their living room.

The family’s bearded collie dog had slept through the attack, leading detectives to assume Ann, a former care home worker, knew her killer.

Peter, a haulage firm operations manager, quickly became the prime suspect, despite a “cast-iron” alibi.

Colleagues confirmed he was at work a mile away from the family home at the time his wife was being attacked.

Durham Police have been approached for a comment.