Inquest hears Julie Ward was beheaded

By Patrick LowmanEAST Anglian adventurer Julie Ward was beheaded with a “heavy and sharp” implement that was brought down on the back of her neck, a former Home Office pathologist has said.

By Patrick Lowman

EAST Anglian adventurer Julie Ward was beheaded with a “heavy and sharp” implement that was brought down on the back of her neck, a former Home Office pathologist has said.

Professor Austin Gresham made the claim yesterday during the second day of the inquest into the death of Ms Ward, 28, from Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds.

He added: “I have no doubt whatsoever that Julie was murdered, dismembered and scattered about the place.”


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Prof Gresham was asked to carry out a post-mortem examination on Ms Ward's remains at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, in September 1988.

He was requested to do so after it was revealed an original post-mortem examination report had been doctored in Kenya.

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The inquest in Ipswich has heard how former director of public health in Kenya, Dr Jason Kaviti, changed the words “cleanly cut” and “sharp” - which his junior, Dr Adel Youseff Shaker, had used to describe Ms Ward's injuries - to “blunt” and “torn” so it appeared she had been eaten by wild animals.

As a result of the tampered report Ms Ward's father, John, bought her remains back to Britain to be examined.

During yesterday's hearing Prof Gresham told how he had received four items of Ms Ward's remains to examine.

They included the lower part of her left leg, a lower jawbone in two halves, a lock of hair and a collection of ashes.

The mutilated and charred remains were found at a deserted spot of the Masai Mara, where Ms Ward had gone missing just days before.

Pointing to projected images of the remains, Prof Gresham explained to the inquest how he came to his conclusion.

Prof Gresham said he had quickly established the lower leg belonged to a white woman, about 5ft 5in in height and about 30 years in age.

He added there had also been a wound on the leg, which had deep triangular cuts surrounded by burnt skin.

Prof Gresham also said the shinbone of the leg had been cleanly cut across and that the kneecap had been cut in half, with one part missing.

The jaw received by Prof Gresham was in two parts and he established other parts had also been severed. He concluded “some sort of sharp implement” had caused the injuries.

Weeks later Prof Gresham was asked to examine Ms Ward's skull, which had by now also been discovered on the Masai Mara, about a kilometre from where her other remains were found.

He said the injuries to the skull were “most remarkable” as parts of it were missing and pieces near its base and cheekbone “had been cut off”.

Prof Gresham added: “I came to the conclusion the head had been severed from the body by a heavy sharp implement, which was brought down on the back of the neck, cutting through the joints.

“The fact the cuts were so symmetrical it makes me think the head was severed after death.”

Although he admitted he had no idea of the cause of Ms Ward's death, Prof Gresham said “common sense” had to be used because there was no reason for her to suddenly drop dead on the Masai Mara. He added there was absolutely no sign of animal injury.

Prof Gresham said he thought Ms Ward's remains had been burned after she had been killed in an “amateurish attempt to rid of them”, but added the way she died remained a mystery to this day.

“The curious thing is the skull was found a kilometre away from the other remains, but was not burned. It seems to me that she was killed, dismembered and then scattered about the place,” he said.

Prof Gresham was also questioned about the theory Ms Ward could have been struck by lightning while hiding in a tree and then fallen into the fire.

The bizarre theory was given to Mr Ward in April 1989 by former Kenyan police adviser, David Rowe, in front of an MI6 agent, known only as Mr A and who is due to give evidence later this week.

“To propose she climbed up a tree and was struck by lightning is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard,” said Prof Gresham.

“If you are struck by lightning, bits don't fly off and there is not a lot of burning. It is monstrous rubbish.”

Frank Ribeiro, a business partner of Mr Ward who was helping investigate Ms Ward's death, told the inquest Mr Ward, British High Commission officials, the MI6 agent and Mr Rowe had been at the meeting.

He said Mr Rowe had suggested Ms Ward had been struck by lightning and fallen into a fire.

“He put forward the view that having got stuck in a gully with her jeep, Julie had somehow wandered off in the wrong direction,” added Mr Ribeiro.

“Darkness had begun to fall and she had lit a fire and climbed a tree for safety. A storm raged and she was hit by lightning so fierce that it had cut across her bones and that she had probably fallen into the fire anyway and the animals had done the rest.

“He went on to say, with a straight face, that he had seen many incidents such as this. At the time I didn't take it seriously. I frankly didn't believe what I heard.

“I think it was a distinct attempt for whatever reason... to again pour cold water on the idea that Julie Ward had been murdered.”

The inquest heard Detective Chief Superintendent Ken Thompson, of the Metropolitan Police's international organised crime branch, travelled in January 1990 to Kenya to see whether Scotland Yard could assist Kenyan officers with the investigation.

Following his four-day visit, Mr Thompson produced a report that included three scenarios as to what might have happened to Ms Ward.

The first two outlined theories that she was murdered by persons unknown - but Mr Thompson's third scenario suggested she might have tried to light a fire with petrol in a jerrycan and became engulfed in the flames.

Mr Thompson, a former head of the British Interpol Office and who is now retired from the police, told the inquest he now thought that scenario impossible in the light of forensic evidence.

Mr Ward, 70, a hotelier from Brockley Green, has launched a personal investigation and has crusaded for the truth to be revealed about his daughter's death and her killers brought to justice.

He complained the Kenyan government had, with the British Foreign Office and the Metropolitan Police, prevented the killers' identities from being revealed. As a result, Lincolnshire police mounted an independent review of the case.

The inquest was told Lincolnshire police had discovered that a statement given by Mr Ward shortly after his daughter's death and passed to the Metropolitan Police had been altered.

About 10 pages of the original statement were missing and one page had been amended so that criticism of the Kenyan justice system was toned down.

The inquest continues today.

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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