A coroner has ruled that the death of the MI6 officer who was found naked in a large carrying bag in a bathtub, Gareth Williams, was intentional. The coroner said that it appears Williams was either poisoned or suffocated.
The death of the English spy was ruled to be unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated, said coroner Fiona Wilcox at an inquiry regarding the death of Williams, according to CNN. Wilcox also said she believed that he was put into the bag while he was still alive and then the unknown assailant put the bag in the bath and padlocked the door and locked the bag.
For about a year and a half the case has gripped the British public. Since Williams, an MI6 officer known for his mathematical prowess and knack for code breaking, was found in padlocked bag in Aug. 23, 2010 in London flat, where he lived alone. The body of the 31-year-old was presumed to be sitting there for a least a week because it was badly decomposed. Immediately, a police investigation began that would bring more questions than answers.
There was endless speculation but little real evidence, said Wilcox at the inquiry. She also criticized the Secret Intelligence Service for their delay of presenting evidence to her.
While the official cause of death remains unknown, Wilcox said she was confident that he either died from suffocation of poisoning.
I am therefore satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully, she said, reported CNN.
Led by Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, the Metropolitan police began interviewing potential witnesses and examined the case relentlessly to determine who killed Williams and why immediately after it was reported. The last thing the officers believed Williams did was search through a cycling website during the early morning hours of Monday Aug. 16, 2010, reported the Telegraph.
As the police continued their investigation they found information regarding Williams' sex life. They discovered women's clothing, wigs, bondage websites on his computer and make up. This evidence led to speculation that Williams may have purposely entered the bag for sexual gratification. However, Wilcox said she believed that the women's clothing was due to his interest in fashion and not due to an odd sexual fantasy. She also ruled out the possibility that sexual activity was the cause of death.
I find on the balance of probabilities that if he had got into the bag and locked himself in, he would have taken a knife in with him, she said, reported RTE News. He was a risk assessor.
Hundreds of tests were conducted by experts to determine if Williams could have entered and locked the bag on his own. Peter Faulding, who specializes in rescuing people from confined spaces, attempted to lock himself in an identical bag 300 times. Each time he failed.
Wilcox also concluded that there was no evidence of footprints or hand-prints on the walls of the bathroom that would have been there had he attempted to put himself in the bag.
Of the four keys that belong to the lock that secured the bag, one pair was found inside the bag with him and another was found on a key ring, Wilcox said reported CNN.
A small indication of a second person's DNA appeared on the bag, but authorities have not been able to track down who it belonged to.
Wilcox expressed her sympathies to William's family while speaking at the inquiry.
A lawyer for William's family that it was difficult for them to lose him, especially given the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.
Our grief is exacerbated by the failure of his employers at MI6 to take even the most basic inquiries as to his whereabouts and welfare, which any reasonable employer would have taken, he said, reported CNN. We are also extremely disappointed at the reluctance and failure of MI6 to make available relevant information.
MI6 was criticized during the initial investigation. Williams, known for his punctuality and professionalism, had a tendency to always keep appointments. The fact that one of the world's most secretive organizations did not find it odd that a top code-breaker was missing for a week, opened the door to condemnations by English officials, reported the Telegraph. Williams worked in a small office with just three other people and none of them found it strange he did not arrive at work.
He was not classified as missing until a week later. Even then, it took four hours for the police to be notified.
Wilcox also mentioned that this hindrance to report his death could have affected evidence. Traces of alcohol and a party drug called GHB were found in his body, but Wilcox said that these can be produced naturally during decomposition. Decomposition of the body was also hastened because William's lived on the top floor apartment, where temperatures rose dramatically in the summer. However, police also discovered that the heat was mysteriously turned on, despite it being August, reported CNN.
At the inquiry, the head of MI6, John Sawers apologized to the family for his organizations failure to act appropriately. He also stated that new guidelines were in place to make sure nothing like this happened again.
Sebire said that the investigation would continue and that new leads would be actively pursued.
His naked body was found in the most suspicious of circumstances, Sebire said, reported CNN. It is highly likely that a third party was involved in Gareth's death, and I urge anyone who knew Gareth or who had contact with him to search their conscience and come forward with any information about what happened that night.
Police also concluded that there was no sign of break-in or that any type of proof that evidence was tampered with. Authorities said there was no indication by family or coworkers that he was feeling suicidal.
Some speculated that William's work with the MI6 made him a potential target, but his employers testified that he never underwent any high-risk operations and did not travel for his job. Furthermore, there was no evidence of threats against his life.