News24

UK spy died long before body found

2010-12-22 19:03

London - A British intelligence official discovered dead inside a sports bag probably died a week before he was found and would likely have suffocated within 30 minutes, police said on Wednesday as they disclosed new details of their inquiry.

Gareth Williams, a 30-year-old official at code-breaking agency GCHQ, was found at his central London apartment on August 23, but police have had few leads to tie any suspects to his death.

Offering new details, police said they hoped to determine conclusively whether Williams' death was linked to his personal life and to trace two people seen at the communal door of Williams' apartment block in June or July.

The man and woman, both described as aged between 20 and 30 years old, indicated to a witness that they had a key to Williams' home and were last seen walking toward his flat.

"Gareth was a very private individual, and we know he would not have given his keys to anyone other than close family," said Detective Jackie Sebire, head of the inquiry into his death.

Sebire said it was still unclear whether Williams died as a result of a sex game gone wrong, and called on any former partners to contact police.

She said there are people who had visited his home who have not yet been traced.

Not suicide

"There is forensic evidence that indicates the presence of other people that we have not been able to eliminate yet," Sebire said.

Experts called in by police have assessed that Williams could not have locked himself inside the bag - which was fastened with a padlock - and could have survived for only 30 minutes inside before suffocation.

Police said inquiries had shown that Williams had viewed bondage related websites.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell called on anyone who communicated with Williams through bondage websites to contact them - hoping to better understand how he came to be locked inside the bag.

"We feel there is some small subgroup of the community, or individuals, who may know something about this matter and the nature of Gareth's death," he said.

In a statement issued by the police, Williams' family said they were "still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their son and brother".

Williams was working on attachment to the MI6 spy agency at the time of his death, but security officials believe it is unlikely that his killing was connected with his work.

Toxicology tests have confirmed there were no traces of drugs or poisons that may have led to his death.