I'm determined to find Julie's killers

MILLIONAIRE businessman John Ward believes an inquest which opens todaywill be vital in finally uncovering the truth about his daughter Julie's brutal death more than 15 years ago.

MILLIONAIRE businessman John Ward believes an inquest which opens todaywill be vital in finally uncovering the truth about his daughter Julie's brutal death more than 15 years ago.

Suffolk hotelier Mr Ward has spent years battling to bring the men responsible for the murder of his beloved only daughter to justice.

Today marks the start of the inquest Mr Ward, whose daughter Julie was killed in Kenya's Masai Mara game reserve, hopes will force the Kenyan Government to launch a fresh murder inquiry which will finally see his daughter's killers put behind bars.

The first British inquest into the death of the Suffolk adventurer starts today at County Hall, Ipswich.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean will call witnesses from both Britain and Kenya - including top Scotland Yard police officers, high-ranking Government officials and a former member of the intelligence services who will be referred to only as "Mr A" - to give evidence at the hearing, which is expected to last a week.

Members of the world's media will descend on Ipswich todayand for Mr Ward the inquest is a crucial piece in the complex jigsaw which has to be completed before he is finally able to see justice prevail.

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He said: "Julie suffered a terrible, terrible death and those responsible are still walking free. I am as determined as I have ever been to find the people who killed my daughter."

"The inquest will be another vital stepping-stone, but it is just another piece of the jigsaw. Julie was murdered and suffered a terrible death, but it can still be solved," he said.

Ms Ward was murdered in September 1988 on the Masai Mara game reserve, just days before she was due to fly back to Britain after an eight-month trip photographing wildlife.

Initially, the Kenyan authorities claimed wild animals were responsible for the death of Ms Ward, who was 28. It was a claim her father simply refused to believe.

As soon as he heard reports of his daughter's disappearance he immediately flew to Kenya to begin what has now become a 16-year quest for the truth.

To his horror he discovered parts of his daughter's dismembered body and belongings burning on the game reserve. He also discovered her jeep had been abandoned miles from the Sand River camp where she had been staying. It was also miles from the Keekorok Lodge, where it is believed she could have been heading after her vehicle become stuck in a gully.

It was these discoveries that led Mr Ward to believe his daughter had been brutally murdered and dismembered.

From that day on Mr Ward, of Brockley Green and who runs the Butterfly chain of hotels, has spent nearly £1 million making more than 100 trips to Kenya in a bid to find his daughter's killers.

"The money doesn't come into it, it is something I had to do," he said: "I was fortunate to have the funds to pursue the matter otherwise Julie would have become just another missing person."

His persistence forced the Kenyan regime to hold an inquest into Ms Ward's death in 1989, where Mr Ward's allegations of murder were upheld.

Since that time two trials have been held against Kenyan park rangers, who were charged with the murder, but on both occasions the suspects were acquitted.

Scotland Yard police officers also flew to Kenya in 1990 to carry out its own investigation, which Mr Ward claims was seriously flawed.

Today, Mr Ward maintains both the Government and police force in Kenya attempted to cover-up the murder and protected those responsible for his daughter's death. He has since gathered written documents and tape recordings - that together with his misgivings over the original investigation - has led to Lincolnshire police carrying out a review of the case.

It is believed officers involved in the review will also be called to give evidence during this week's inquest.

Mr Ward said: "I hope the findings of this inquest and the results of the review will provide the first building blocks that will lead to a new murder inquiry in Kenya. There is also a new Government regime in Kenya and I am confident it is willing to look at the case again.

"I have never had any doubt that this is an entirely solvable case, but previously there was a lack of will to do so, but I believe the new regime will have a different approach, which is positive.

"I think this inquest will be a lot fairer and more open than the original hearing in Kenya. I hope it will be a thorough investigation that will answer many questions."

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