Julie Ward murder: New inquest
By Patrick LowmanAN inquest into the death of East Anglian adventurer Julie Ward is to be held almost 16 years after she was brutally murdered and dismembered.
By Patrick Lowman
AN inquest into the death of East Anglian adventurer Julie Ward is to be held almost 16 years after she was brutally murdered and dismembered.
Her hotelier father, John, who has fought tirelessly to bring her killers to justice, hopes the hearing in Suffolk may reveal the identity of the people responsible for the death of his daughter.
The charred and mutilated remains of Ms Ward, a 28-year-old photographer, were found in the beautiful Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya in 1988.
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The Kenyan authorities claimed Ms Ward, who had been on an eight-month trip travelling through Africa photographing wildlife, had been attacked and eaten by wild animals.
However, following his own dogged investigations, Mr Ward presented evidence that forced the Kenyan authorities to admit his daughter had been murdered.
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A subsequent inquest held in Kenya upheld Mr Ward's allegations of murder. Although a UK inquest into his daughter's death was officially opened in 1988, a full hearing has never taken place.
Now Greater Suffolk coroner, Dr Peter Dean, has decided to hold the full inquest, which is expected to start next month.
A preliminary date for the hearing, which will be held in west Suffolk, has been set for April 16, and is expected to last about a week.
Foreign Office and Scotland Yard officials involved in the original case may be called to the hearing to give their version of the events surrounding Ms Ward's death.
Mr Ward, who lives in Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds, said: “I am very pleased the inquest is finally taking place, it is another step in the right direction.
“This will allow us to open up a whole new area of the investigation that has never been scrutinised before. I think it will be a very detailed hearing that will certainly raise some eyebrows.”
Since his daughter's death, Mr Ward, 70, who runs the Butterfly chain of hotels, has embarked on a quest to bring her killers to justice.
He has made more than 100 trips to Kenya, where he discovered his daughter was abducted, held captive and then murdered.
Two criminal trials have been held against Kenyan park rangers who were charged with Ms Ward's murder, but on both occasions the suspects were acquitted.
Mr Ward has since gathered written documents and tape recordings that, together with his misgivings over original investigation, led to Lincolnshire police carrying out an independent review of the case.
That review is expected to be completed by the end of the month and Mr Ward hoped the results of both the review and the inquest will finally help bring his daughter's killers to justice.
He added: “I am hoping the Lincolnshire report will answer some of the questions. If those answers are not in the report, the inquest may give us another opportunity to ask those questions in the public forum.
“It is possible the findings of the inquest may help us to reveal the identity of Julie's killers.”
A spokesman for the coroner's office said a preliminary date for the inquest had been set for April 26.
“This is subject to all witnesses being available and being able to attend on that date. The coroner has set a side a week for the hearing and we don't expect it to go on longer than that,” he added.