Daily Post : MI6 spy Gareth Williams was 'dead or unconscious' when placed in holdall, inquest hears

Saturday, April 28, 2012

MI6 spy Gareth Williams was 'dead or unconscious' when placed in holdall, inquest hears

by Our Correspondent, DPW West | April 28, 2012

MI6 spy Gareth Williams was either dead or unconscious when he was placed in the sports holdall in which he was found dead, an inquest heard yesterday.

An expert said even world-famous escapologist Harry Houdini “would have struggled” to squeeze himself into the bag.

Peter Faulding said he believed a third party was present, describing theories that Mr Williams got inside the holdall by himself as “unbelievable scenarios”.

Police discovered the naked decomposing body of the 31-year-old spy padlocked inside a red North Face holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, London, on August 23 2010.

Mr Faulding, a former Parachute Regiment reservist who specialises in rescuing people from confined spaces, made 300 unsuccessful attempts to lock himself inside an identical 81cm x 48cm bag.

“I couldn’t say it’s impossible, but I think even Houdini would have struggled with this one,” he said.

The expert added: “My conclusion is that Mr Williams was either placed in the bag unconscious, or he was dead before he was in the bag.”

He suggested it would have been “very easy” to fold the dead spy’s arms and place him in the holdall as long as rigor mortis had not set in.

The inquest was shown a video of Mr Faulding trying to squeeze himself into the bag while it was in a bath of the same size as the one in Mr Williams’ flat. He flayed around, starting with his torso, then tucking his head in, and finally pulling his legs in one by one.

He said: “The only way I could get myself into the bag was to lie on my back, put my shoulders and head in first, and bending my body at my stomach, pulling my knees up and pulling the bag over my body.”

Mr Faulding told the hearing it would have been “extremely hot” in the holdall and Mr Williams would only have been able to survive inside for a maximum of 30 minutes.

“I am used to confined spaces, and once I’m in that bag, it is a very unpleasant place to be,” he said.

A second expert refused to rule out the possibility that Mr Williams locked himself in the holdall unaided.

William MacKay and a yoga-practising assistant made more than 100 attempts to recreate the feat without success.

But he said it was possible that Mr Williams, a fitness-loving maths prodigy, died without a third party being present.

“I would not like to say that it could not be done,” he told the inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court.

“There are people around who can do amazing things and Mr Williams may well have been one of those persons.”

Video reconstructions played to the hearing showed Mr MacKay’s assistant, of similar height and build to Mr Williams, curling his body in the bag but struggling to pull the zip shut.

Mr MacKay said the holdall was not airtight, and as long as the person inside did not panic they would be able to breathe for some time.

“It depends on how calm you are in terms of oxygen intake,” he said.

The inquest was adjourned until Monday.