Murder victim's dad clings to hope

ON the 15th anniversary of the murder of East Anglian photographer Julie Ward, her dedicated father is still hopeful the net is finally closing in on those responsible for her death.

ON the 15th anniversary of the murder of East Anglian photographer Julie Ward, her dedicated father is still hopeful the net is finally closing in on those responsible for her death.

John Ward spoke to PATRICK LOWMAN of his continued determination to bring his daughter's killers to justice.

ON September 6, 1988, Julie Ward was preparing to fly home to Britain to tell her family about her amazing eight-month trip travelling through Africa and photographing wildlife in Kenya.

Tragically, she never made the journey home. Just days before she was due to return, she took a hot air balloon ride above the rugged terrain of the Masai Mara before climbing into her Suzuki 4x4 to drive back to the Sand River campsite where she had been staying.

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But somewhere on the way back to the site something sinister happened and the 28-year-old was never seen alive again.

Her charred and mutilated remains were later found in a remote part of the popular wildlife park and the then Kenyan Government said Julie had been attacked and eaten by wild animals.

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But her hotelier father, John, was unconvinced and began on an unmoveable quest for the truth – which has seen him make more than 100 trips to Kenya – discovering Julie had in fact been abducted, held captive, probably raped and then brutally murdered.

Her killers had then dismembered her body and placed the parts around the Masai Mara park in hope wild animals would eat them.

Later her father found some of her clothing, a denim-clad leg and parts of her jaw burning in a fire on the park.

Following several police allegations, there were two criminal trials against Kenyan citizens and park rangers accused of Julie's murder, but on both occasions the suspects were acquitted.

Fifteen years on and her killers are still at large, but Mr Ward feels the net was now closing in on those responsible for his daughter's death.

The 70-year-old, of Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds, said: "I think I know who is responsible for my daughter's death.

"I have a written statement from somebody naming the person responsible for Julie's death and with the help of the new Kenyan government, I think I have enough evidence to bring a conclusion to this case."

Mr Ward said both he and his wife still missed their daughter tremendously, but admitted he could not grieve properly until he got all the answers to his questions about Julie's death.

"Obviously I have bad moments and there are times when Julie's death hits me hard, but I stay focussed because I need to get to the bottom of this and I still want all my questions answered," he added.

"I am still very, very angry and frustrated and I will not rest until Julie's killer is brought to justice. I am confident this matter will be solved, but my biggest fear is it will go on so long I will not be able to fight any longer."

Since park warden Simon Oke Makallah, the last person to be accused of Julie's murder, was found not guilty in 1999, there has been some new developments in the case that have given Mr Ward renewed optimism.

After the 1999 trial Mr Ward, who runs the Butterfly chain of hotels, went back to Scotland Yard with written documents, tape recordings and proof a certain chain events had taken place around the time Julie disappeared.

As a result of this and Mr Ward's disquiet over the Kenyan government's and the Foreign Office's involvement in the murder probe, Lincolnshire Police were asked to carry out an independent review of the case, which was originally investigated by Scotland Yard.

Although the findings of Lincolnshire Police's report will not be published until December, Mr Ward said he had been given an insight into its content.

"It is comforting that the evidence I supplied and indeed the entire case has now been fully investigated," said Mr Ward.

"I hope the findings of the report will persuade the new regime in Kenya to reopen the case and help us catch those responsible.

"I also hope it will bring about a public inquiry into the activities of the Foreign Office and also the original Scotland Yard investigation.

"Since the new regime took over in Kenya it has promised to review a number of cases, including Julie's murder. I feel we have more chance of getting the case reopened now former president Daniel arap Moi."

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