Justice at last for Julie?

A NEW murder investigation into the death of East Anglian adventurer Julie Ward looks certain after a senior detective revealed he had uncovered "significant new leads" he is confident will bring her killers to justice.

A NEW murder investigation into the death of East Anglian adventurer Julie Ward looks certain after a senior detective revealed he had uncovered "significant new leads" he is confident will bring her killers to justice.

On day five of the inquest into Miss Ward's death, Detective Chief Superintendent Terry Hackett, of Lincolnshire police, confirmed he had found a new witness who holds vital information, but was too afraid to speak out under the previous Kenyan government.

He said: "I believe this case is most detectable."

It was also revealed another informant had provided Miss Ward's father, John, with "significant new evidence", which it is hoped will convince the Kenyan authorities to re-open the case in the near future.

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Earlier this week the Kenyan Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kiraitu Murungi, promised to re-open the investigation if any new evidence was unearthed during the inquest, being held at County Hall, Ipswich.

Following yesterday's startling developments Mr Ward, of Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds, said: "This is the best position we have ever been in."

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Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean said he believed the 16-year-old case could finally be solved after hearing yesterday's dramatic evidence.

He said: "This raises a very real prospect of this matter will finally be solved. We have heard things of great significance and it sends a very positive message out from this inquest. I would like to express gratitude to the Kenyan authorities, which I think have made it possible to bring a resolution to this very sad matter."

Mr Hackett was asked to lead an independent review into the 1988 murder case, after Mr Ward, 70, claimed the Kenyan Police, British Foreign Office and the Metropolitan Police, had together prevented him from bringing those responsible for the death of his only daughter to justice.

The detective revealed the exciting new evidence after being asked by Dr Dean if he was aware of any new witnesses or which direction the case was taking.

"Part of my remit was to review various pieces of evidence. In Kenya we did come across a new witnesses, one particular significant witness, who I would not like to name, who has very good evidence.

"Under the old Kenyan regime, this witness was not willing to give a statement, but I am sure that person will now be willing to give us a statement. "I hope by taking a statement from this witness, others will then feel safe enough to come forward with evidence," said Mr Hackett.

"There is also a need to revisit witnesses who have already given statements, as in the statements they gave at the time they may not have wished to tell the whole truth. In relation to the change of atmosphere under the new Kenyan government those witnesses, who are significant, may now decide to tell the truth."

Mr Hackett went on to say that advances in forensic science will also play an important part in tracking down Miss Ward's killers.

"Forensic technology has moved on a pace, never mind in the last 16 years, in the last year. I am sure that as part of the new investigation a number of people will be asked to give samples, they will be of blood and fingerprints."

During the initial investigation into 28-year-old Julie's death Kenyan detectives said she was killed by wild animals as she drove alone between the Sand River Camp and the Keekorok Lodge on the Masai Mara game reserve.

It was claimed that after leaving the Sand River camp on September 6, 1988, Ms Ward decided to turn off the main route and drive over rough terrain to view wild animals, but her jeep had become stuck in a gully.

It is a theory Mr Hackett totally dismissed and labelled a set-up.

"I could not see any sane person turning off that route. It is an insult to Julie to suggest an intelligent girl like her would even contemplate turning off and make her way towards that gully. I don't want to hear that theory again. I believe Julie's jeep in the gully was a set-up, and very clumsily set-up," he said.

Mr Hackett went on to explaine how an informer was now feeding Mr Ward with new information, which he says could also provide vital evidence during a fresh murder inquiry.

"There is a new witness, who we will call a covert human intelligence source, who has given evidence to Mr Ward, which I believe will be most significant," he said. "Having met government officials this week, I am confident of full co-operation from the Kenyan government and authorities in relation to a re-investigation of Julie's murder. I believe this case is most detectable and I am very confident that the people who committed this murder will finally be brought to justice."

A six-man team of detectives from Lincolnshire police has spent the past two years investigating the circumstances surrounding original murder inquiry. The team was named Operation Kenya and it is estimated its extensive enquiries have cost in the region of £500,000.

Its findings are now detailed in an in-depth report which is being forwarded to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is expected to call a press conference to discuss its content later in the year.

Earlier during yesterday's inquest, former senior assistant commissioner of Kenya Police, Laban Tole, who led the investigations into Miss Ward's death from 1996, said he believed the she never left the Sand River camp alive on September 6, 1988.

His investigations concluded that Miss Ward was brutally murdered and did not commit suicide as suggested by one of his former colleagues during earlier inquiries. He also said there was a number of potential suspects who might have been involved in the murder.

He added that he had a report on the case, but felt it could hinder any new murder trial in Kenya if its contents were revealed. He added that he believed those involved in the murder could still be caught.

Mr Ward later described Mr Tole as a "first class detective and a "credit to his profession".

He was also pleased with the progress that has been made in the case.

"Although I feel there is a certain amount of damage limitation going on, I am almost certain there will be a new murder inquiry in Kenya.

"I am not sure exactly what the next step will be, I will wait for the Lincolnshire report to be published and I suspect there might be judicial reviews in both Britain and Kenya. At some stage I will be going to Kenya and the new evidence will be put on the table. This is the strongest position we have ever been in, if we don't get a result now we never will," said Mr Ward.

The inquest was adjourned until next Tuesday when Dr Dean is expected to give his verdict.

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