Wales Online : M16 officer Gareth Williams' death 'fits with sexual asphyxiation', says inquest pathologist

Thursday, May 24, 2012

M16 officer Gareth Williams' death 'fits with sexual asphyxiation', says inquest pathologist

By Julia McWatt, WalesOnline | May 24, 2012

A PATHOLOGIST in the inquest of MI6 officer Gareth Williams has said the case should be re-examined if claims by two individuals that they could shut themselves inside the sports holdall that Mr Williams’ body was found in turn out to be true.

A 16-year-old girl whose father Jim Fetherstonhaugh – a retired sergeant in the Royal Artillery – developed a method of zipping up the identical North Face bag from the inside, and journalist Claire Hayhurst who used Mr Fetherstonhaugh’s method, both said they were successful in their attempts to shut themselves in the bag.

The naked body of Mr Williams, 31, from Anglesey, was discovered padlocked inside the holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, London, on August 23, 2010.

Dr Richard Shepherd, who gave evidence at the inquest last month, told BBC Radio 4: “I think it brings once again to the fore the possibility that this was a solitary act by Gareth. From my point of view, as I look across the deaths associated with sexual asphyxiation, this is one that fits quite neatly into that group of practice, bizarre though it is.

“Certainly, I think this is a significant bit of evidence, which, if shown to be correct does need to be brought again into consideration."

Experts had told Mr Williams' inquest how they had tried unsuccessfully to lock themselves in the bag up to 300 times.

But Mr Fetherstonhaugh adopted a method by which a holdall can be zipped up and locked from the inside without assistance. It is said to be the reverse of a trick used by airport thieves to steal from locked bags, that are flexible with sides that can be pinched together.

His daughter Izzy, 16, who at 5ft 3ins was 3ins shorter than Mr Williams, fitted inside the bag.

He told "She is 5ft 5 and he was 5ft 8 but when you're in the foetal position inside that height doesn't make much difference.

"She had a bit of a struggle pulling the bag but she wouldn'y have been as strong as him. I could easily see that he would be able to do it.

"She did it on the floor and it would have been much easier for him in the bath because he could put pressure on the sides to manoeuvre himself in.

"Once you show people how you do it, their jaws drop."

Ms Hayhurst, a reporter for, who is 5ft 4in tall and of a slight build similar to Mr Williams tested the method, and was eventually able to do it in less than three minutes.

The coroner had concluded Mr Williams' death was "unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated".