New evidence in Julie Ward murder hunt
EXCLUSIVEBy Patrick LowmanNEW evidence that could help trace the killers of East Anglian adventurer Julie Ward has been revealed for the first time.
By Patrick Lowman
NEW evidence that could help trace the killers of East Anglian adventurer Julie Ward has been revealed for the first time.
More than 16 years after Ms Ward was murdered and dismembered on the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal that a safari park employee, armed with a rifle, was seen sitting in her vehicle as she made her final journey.
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For the past three years the new information has remained top secret, but Ms Ward's father, John, has decided to reveal the evidence after becoming increasingly frustrated over delays in the publication of a vital police report that he hopes could eventually solve his daughter's murder.
A new witness - considered extremely reliable by Mr Ward and police officers - has now come forward to say he saw Ms Ward leave the Mara Serena Lodge in her 4x4 vehicle on September 6, 1988.
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He added a Kenyan safari park employee, dressed in camouflage clothing and armed with a rifle placed between his knees, was sitting in the passenger seat as she pulled away.
Previously, all other witnesses had said Ms Ward had left the lodge, where her vehicle had been repaired, alone as she embarked on a 50-mile trip back to the Sand River campsite where she had been staying.
It was after leaving the lodge that Ms Ward, 28, from Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds, disappeared without trace.
Her vehicle was later found abandoned in a gully on the game reserve and her burned and mutilated remains where found scattered around the Masai Mara reserve by her father, who has been battling to bring her killers to justice ever since.
The key evidence and a statement taken from the new witness is included in the yet-to-be-published independent report by Lincolnshire Police into Scotland Yard's original inquiry into Ms Ward's murder.
The new witness was uncovered in 2001 as Mr Ward, Chief Superintendent Terry Hackett, of Lincolnshire Police, and Greater Suffolk coroner, Peter Dean, who held the first British inquest into Ms Ward's death earlier this year, made an investigatory trip to Kenya.
Mr Ward, also from Brockley Green, said: “We have interviewed somebody who saw Julie at the last place she was seen alive and this is very significant new information.
“The witness is based at the Mara Serena Lodge. He said he saw that when Julie left the lodge, a safari park employee with a rifle between his knees was sitting beside her.
“He was dressed in camouflage clothing, which means he could have been one of three things - a park ranger, a police officer or a member of the Kenyan General Services Unit.
“Before we spoke to this man, we were always told she had left the lodge alone. We asked the man why he had never come forward before, he said he feared he may end up in with the crocodiles and I believe him.
“Lincolnshire Police have interviewed this man a great length and it is very powerful information.”
Lincolnshire Police were asked in 2000 to carry out an independent review into the original inquiry into Ms Ward's death after her father alleged the Kenyan Government, the Foreign Office and High Commission and the Metropolitan Police had colluded to prevent him from finding his daughter's
Mr Ward claimed he had been promised on numerous occasions over the past two years that the report was almost complete. It was hoped it would be ready for Ms Ward's inquest, held in Ipswich in April.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was also expecting to receive the report in July, but was then told it would not be receiving the document until September.
The IPCC still has not received the report from Lincolnshire Police and the delays have left Mr Ward increasingly frustrated.
“This new line of inquiry is vitally important and it should have been followed up by now. The problem is it is locked away in the Lincolnshire report,” he said.
“It is now three years since we took this statement. There has been a new regime in Kenya for 18 months and I would have hoped by now to have gone to Kenya with Lincolnshire Police to put this evidence on the table in hope it would get the case reopened.
“I agreed to keep this new information confidential as I thought the report would have been concluded much sooner and we would have acted on the information by now.”
Mr Ward added: “I am becoming very impatient because this person seen armed with a rifle in my daughter's vehicle could hold vital information
into her death and he can be traced.
“I have no problems with the officers from Lincolnshire Police who have been working on the ground, they have done an excellent job, but I am concerned about what is going on from above to cause such delays.
“I fear the situation is becoming political and that perhaps police officials have lost sight of the entire reason for this review - and that is to solve my daughter's murder.”
Once the IPCC receives the report, it will need to reach its own conclusions before deciding whether any information should be forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The findings and conclusion of the report will then be sent to Mr Ward before they are made public.
An IPCC spokesman said: “We are expecting to receive the report very shortly, certainly by the end of the month.
“We will then have to carry out our own assessment of the report, so it is likely to be several months before the findings are made public.”
No-one from Lincolnshire Police was available yesterday for comment.