8 Aug 2012

Long-serving child murderer died of cancer

12:45 pm on 8 August 2012

A coroner has revealed pancreatic and liver cancer was behind the death last year of one of the country's longest-serving prisoners.

Allan James Cowley, who was 72, was serving life imprisonment for the murder of five-year-old Anne Elizabeth Overend at Levin's Weraroa Domain in 1967.

The Otago Corrections Facility inmate died at Dunedin Hospital in June last year, and the case was referred to coroner David Crerar to investigate.

In a ruling issued on Wednesday, the coroner says the death was due to natural causes and there is no evidence of any failures by prison or hospital staff in caring for Cowley.

Upon the news of the death last year, Overend family lawyer Stephen Franks said he was proud to have helped make at least one life sentence mean life.