Mystery DNA found on UK spy body bag

2012-04-24 22:34

London - Traces of mysterious DNA were found on the locked holdall containing the naked body of British spy Gareth Williams, the inquest into his unexplained death heard on Tuesday.

"Two minor components of another contributor's DNA" were found on the zip toggle and padlock of the bag in which his decomposing body was found in a bath in his London flat, Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire told the court.

The police officer said her team had worked from the start on the assumption that a "third party" was involved in the death of Williams, 31, despite their failure so far to find proof of another person's presence when he died.

His family has said they believe someone versed in the "dark arts" tried to cover up the circumstances of his August 2010 death.

"My opinion since I went into the scene is that a third party had been involved in the death or by putting the body in the bag," Sebire told the court.

Scotland Yard detectives have been stumped as to the cause of death and will show the court a video reconstruction of how Williams might have entered the bag by himself, after speculation he might have done so as part of a sex game.

Williams was said to have been a brilliant codebreaker and was on secondment to Britain's external intelligence agency MI6 from GCHQ, the centre which monitors electronic communications.

His body was found in a foetal position in the bag which was padlocked from the outside, according to graphics shown to court. Beneath him inside the bag were keys that could have opened the lock.

"In my opinion he was very calm. His face was very calm. His hands were resting on his chest," Sebire said.

Muscular

Sebire said there were no signs of a struggle in the red North Face holdall, adding that Williams "was very muscular, he trained regularly. It is only my opinion, but I would at least expect some tearing to the netting."

Forensic evidence included a spot of someone else's blood in the building's communal hallway, and in the flat a spot of Williams' blood which Sebire said could have dated from around the time he went missing or could be older.

There is "limited" scope for identifying anyone from the DNA but tests continue, she said.

Video filmed by detectives after the body's discovery showed an immaculately kept apartment with a woman's wig, lipstick and make-up visible, plus a cutting from the Observer newspaper headlined "Top five regrets of the dying".

After Williams' death, police found in the flat £20 000 worth of women's clothes and shoes, many from designer labels, as well as a number of wigs.

A dressing gown and quilt discarded on the bedroom floor were the only exceptions to the spotless tidiness of the flat, with no signs of a break-in.

CCTV footage before his death showed Williams shopping in top department stores Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges and looking relaxed.

The last clip of him alive dates from August 15, eight days before his body was found, while computer evidence showed him looking at a cycling website the following day.

His sister, Ceri Subbe, told the inquest on Monday that Williams had spoken of "friction in the office" and had cut short his MI6 placement.

A lawyer for the family, Anthony O'Toole, said last month they believe someone else was either present when he died or broke into his home afterwards.

"The impression of the family is that the unknown third party was a member of some agency specialising in the dark arts of the secret services - or evidence has been removed post-mortem by experts in the dark arts," he said.

Read more on:    mi6  |  uk  |  espionage
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