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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 20 March, 2019

MI6 spy found dead and locked in sports bag likely an accident - UK police

A fresh review of the mysterious “spy in the bag” case has concluded that Gareth Williams was not murdered but had climbed into the bag without assistance.

Deputy assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt making a statement to media following the inquest last May.
Deputy assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt making a statement to media following the inquest last May.
Image: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

A BRITISH SPY whose naked body was found locked in a sports bag inside a bathtub three years ago most likely killed himself by accident according to UK police.

A fresh review of the mysterious “spy in the bag” case has concluded that 31-year-old Gareth Williams, a codebreaker for the MI6 foreign intelligence agency, was not murdered but had climbed into the bag without assistance.

The police findings contradict those of a coroner who concluded at an inquest last year that another person was probably involved in Williams’s death.

“My personal view at the end of the investigation is that what happened was an accident,” Martin Hewitt, deputy assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, told reporters.

I am convinced that Gareth’s death was in no way related to his work.

He admitted that several “odd” factors remained — notably the fact that no DNA was found on the padlock and there were no handprints on the bathtub.

The decomposed body of the talented mathematician was found locked in a red North Face holdall inside the bath of his flat in London’s upmarket Pimlico district in August 2010.

Hewitt refused to speculate whether the spy’s death was linked to his alleged interest in escapology and bondage.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox concluded at the inquest last May that Williams probably died of suffocation or poisoning.

She had heard from experts who had repeatedly failed to padlock themselves into bags identical to his. One expert said escapologist Harry Houdini “would have struggled” to pull off the feat.

Williams’ family said on Tuesday that they stood by the coroner’s view that someone else was probably involved in his death.

“We consider that in the basis of the facts at present known the coroner’s verdict accurately reflects the circumstances of Gareth’s death,” they said in a statement.

We are naturally disappointed that it is still not possible to state with certainty how Gareth died and the fact that the circumstances of his death are still unknown adds to our grief.

imageMetropolitan Police file handout photo of British code breaker Gareth Williams. (Pic: PA Wire)

‘A tragic unexplained death’

Hewitt said police were satisfied that it was “theoretically possible” for a man to lock himself in the bag, and stressed that this had been accepted by the coroner.

“The point is that we’re satisfied that theoretically you could achieve that,” he told reporters. “Gareth’s physical stature, Gareth’s strength — my belief is that it would have been possible for him to do that.”

Hewitt acknowledged that several factors — including the lack of DNA on the padlock and the fact that the heating was on full-blast in the flat, despite it being mid-summer — had been used to support the theory that Williams was murdered.

“Most of the fundamental questions in relation to how Gareth died remain unanswered,” he said.

“It is unlikely that his death will ever be satisfactorily explained.”

© – AFP

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