National Post : Spy couldn’t have locked himself naked in bag before he died, experts say after trying to recreate it

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spy couldn’t have locked himself naked in bag before he died, experts say after trying to recreate it

Hayley Dixon, The Telegraph | November 17, 2013

Experts who tried and failed to recreate the method of death of spy Gareth Williams, who was found locked in a bag in the bath of his London apartment, say they do not agree with the police finding that the MI6 man died by accident.

The codebreaker could not have got into the bag and locked it from the inside alone, witnesses who worked closely with the investigation have claimed after attempting the task more than 400 times. No one has ever come forward who has been able to recreate the scene.

When Mr. Williams’ naked, decomposing body was found in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, London, in August 2010, the handles of the bag had been fastened with Velcro, there was no sign of him struggling to escape and the eyelets on the locks had been perfectly aligned.

No finger, foot, palm prints or DNA belonging to Mr. Williams was found on the rim of the bath, padlock or zipper and he was not wearing any gloves.

Despite the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death and an inquest finding that he had been unlawfully killed, the police have now concluded that Mr. Williams most likely got into the bag by himself and died after failing to get out again.

However, William MacKay, a confined spaces expert who gave evidence at the inquest, said that he still believes that someone else was involved.

“Everything leads to that being the case,” he said. “When you put the forensic evidence together with the other evidence the likelihood that one person could do it is slim.

“Where is all the DNA that would have been around the bath? I would stay short of saying it was murder, because obviously it could have been an accident that someone else could have been involved in, the scenarios are many.”

For the inquest he and a yoga expert, who was of very similar stature to Mr. Williams, made hundreds of attempts to recreate the scenario in which Mr. Williams’ body was found. Although the expert could get into the bag, he was unable to lock it.

Peter Faulding, who also worked closely with the police and gave evidence at the inquest, agrees that Mr. Williams was not alone when he was locked in the bag.

He believes that the evidence points toward murder as the heating in the flat had been turned up despite it being midsummer, which would have speeded up decomposition, a doorknob which could have given forensic clues had been removed, and Mr. Williams’ iPhone had been wiped.

Mr. Faulding told the Sunday Express: “I believe the bag was placed in the bath to let bodily fluids run down the plughole.”

Mr. MacKay, a former Army officer, said: “As I told the coroner I have seen some amazing things being done in my career, and so I could not say beyond all reasonable doubt that nobody could do it.

“We got close, but close is still far away. With all the other demonstrations generally it showed damage to the bag when it was done.”