Sun : Spook had to be ID'd by photo

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Spook had to be ID'd by photo

By ANTHONY FRANCE, Crime Reporter | September 1, 2010

THE body of murdered MI6 spook Gareth Williams was in such an "advanced state of decay" it had to be indentified from a family photo, a court heard yesterday.

The brilliant code breaker, 31, was found padlocked in a holdall in his bath.

Police spared his family the ordeal of seeing his body by asking for a recent snap instead.

An inquest was told that despite two post mortems police still don't know the cause of his death.

Mr Williams was found in the en-suite bathroom of his £400,000 flat in Pimlico, Central London on August 23 — half a mile from MI6's HQ on the Thames.

Police broke into his flat after colleagues said they had not seen him at work, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

Mr Williams who worked for GCHQ, the Government's eavesdropping base in Cheltenham, was on secondment to the Secret Intelligence Service.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, who is leading the murder investigation, was asked by coroner Dr Paul Knapman whether the police needed the public's help to solve the case.

DCI Sebire replied: "This remains an unexplained death. We would appeal for any witnesses who saw Mr Williams in any circumstances after August 11 onwards until the 23rd when he was discovered."

Earlier, the coroner had outlined the brief facts of the case.

He said: "I have a résumé here which says to me that on Monday August 23, police were called to check on the welfare of Gareth Williams at his home address as he had not been seen at work.

"At about 6.30pm that evening I understand police entered the premises. They found a large holdall in the bath in the en suite bathroom of the main bedroom.

"The holdall was padlocked shut and inside was a lifeless body, and it appeared that the body was in an advanced state of decay.

"Following this various specialist departments of the Metropolitan Police were called and it was confirmed it was a male and, as we have heard, the description matched Gareth Williams.

"The Homicide and Serious Crime Command were much involved."

He added: "A post-mortem was carried out at that time. We will call that the first post mortem. It was performed by Dr Ben Swift on Wednesday August 25th.

"This failed to establish the cause of death and so further tests are being carried out."

Mr William's parents Ian and Ellen and sister Ceri, 28, were not in court for the opening.

Coroner's officer Kim Bedwell said: "I'm satisfied that the deceased is Gareth Wyn Williams, aged 31. He was a single man, a civil servant.

"Identification was confirmed by comparison of the deceased with a recent photograph that was supplied by the next of kin."

Dr Knapman concluded the hearing by saying to DCI Sebire: "As always the family will be anxious to have the body released following post mortem.

"We have talked about this and I am not inclined to allow this to occur at the present time. What I'm going to do is adjourn this case for one week.

"No doubt we can be in touch about how any tests and enquiries are going."

Mr Williams' parents who live in Anglesey, North Wales, believe he was murdered.

Uncle William Hughes, 61, said: "I saw Gareth a couple of months ago when he came home for a cycling event and he was in good spirits.

"He was just the same as he always was — friendly, happy and well balanced.

"From the family's point of view, we'd be absolutely amazed if he had any suicidal thoughts. He just wasn't that kind of person.

"He was always very steady. He was a quiet person, but he was a happy one. There'd been no shift in his personality."