Session 15. Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SESSION 15. Wednesday, May 2, 2012
CORONER: Fiona Wilcox
8:45@skynewsgathererLegal submissions have begun in Gareth Williams inquest
8:46@skynewsgathererBarrister for SIS says that an unlawful killing option is not open to coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox
8:47@skynewsgathererCoroner agrees there is insufficient evidence for unlawful killing verdict and says narrative verdict is most suitable option
8:52@skynewsgathererCoroner says she will be making an assessment of reliability and credibility of the evidence
8:56@skynewsgathererCoroner says she will try to deliver before lunch. It could take up to 2 hours as it runs to "many pages"
8:56@stone_skynewsCoroner in Gareth Williams inquest says she cant see any other option for verdict other than narrative or open verdict
8:56@stone_skynewsThe coroner says that an open verdict would not give weight to the considerable evidence heard in the inquest
8:56@stone_skynewsCoroner says there isnt enough evidence to consider a verdict of unlawful killing. Looks like it will be a narrative verdict
8:56@stone_skynewsA narrative verdict is an option open to a coroner when other verdict options don't fit case. It's a short factual statement outlining facts
8:56@stone_skynewsA narrative verdict does leave open the option to include any failures by any party relevant to circumstances of the death
10:18@skynewsgathererVerdict in inquest into death of Gareth Williams will now not be until at least noon
10:21@stone_skynewsBREAKING NEWS - Spy Death: Unlawful killing verdict ruled out. Video analysis here:
10:57@skynewsgathererPolice and family friends taking their seats in coroner's court ahead of narrative verdict into the death of Gareth Williams
11:03@stone_skynewsFor updates on verdict in the Gareth Williams inquest follow my colleague @skynewsgatherer & look back at her fascinating twitter timeline
11:04@skynewsgathererGareth's family have now arrived in court ahead of verdict
11:08@skynewsgathererCoroner Dr Fiona Wilcox begins summing up the evidence in inquest for death of Gareth Williams
11:08@skynewsgathererCoroner says she is unable to include speculation in her narrative verdict or express opinion or criminal liability
11:09@skynewsgatherer"This not a trial this is an enquiry," says Dr Wilcox
11:10@skynewsgathererCoroner can however comment on the "robustness" of the evidence presented before her
11:12@skynewsgathererCoroner decides which evidence she accepts and does not have to accept evidence from an expert - even if it is unchallenged
11:12@skynewsgathererUnlikely that this death will ever be satisfactorily explained, says coroner
11:13@skynewsgathererCoroner says there has been a lot of speculation but little evidence. Fundamental question as to cause of death still unanswered
11:14@skynewsgathererCoroner going through sequence of events which led to Gareth being found in padlocked bag in bath
11:16@skynewsgathererCoroner says following cordon established there was no unauthorised entry by MI6 or SO15 officers or 3rd party
11:17@skynewsgathererCoroner explaining how Supt Michael Broster of SO15 acted as conduit between SIS and murder squad
11:18@skynewsgathererThe fact that no statements taken from MI6 officers affected quality of evidence at inquest says coroner
11:19@skynewsgathererCoroner accepts that MI6 sealed and protected Gareth's possessions at his workplace
11:20@skynewsgathererCoroner outlining chain of command, and reviews of police investigation
11:24@skynewsgathererCoroner says Supt Broster had either disregarded rules for gathering evidence or events were not as given in court
11:25@skynewsgathererBroster told court he seized Gareth's phone from work cabinet, took it back to Scotland Yard the handed it to another officer
11:27@skynewsgathererBag, memory sticks, leave card and keys were not known to either coroner or lead police officer until last TWO days of evidence
11:27@skynewsgathererCoroner says this questions reliability of the evidence
11:28@skynewsgathererCoroner: no evidence that Gareth died at hands of SIS colleague but still a legitimate line of enquiry as Gareth socialised with so few people
11:30@skynewsgathererCoroner: It was not Broster's role to decide on evidence. How could he act as conduit if he didn't pass info on?
11:31@skynewsgathererCoroner says she had considered adjourning verdict for further investigation
11:32@skynewsgathererCoroner now turning to chronology of last days of Gareth's life
11:36@skynewsgathererCoroner says MI6 should not have been allowed to analyse memory sticks and it wouldn't have happened if it was another agency
11:36@skynewsgathererCoroner remarks how clean and tidy Gareth's flat was - and the heating was on in August
11:38@skynewsgathererNo signs of robbery at Gareth's flat, says coroner as she lists items found at flat
11:39@skynewsgathererItems included CDs, bike gear, and 20k of women's high end clothing. No women's underwear
11:40@skynewsgathererBath robe and duvet on floor were "incongruous" with neatly folded clothes on bed, coroner says
11:41@skynewsgathererCoroner describing bag, padlock and the fact that Gareth's body appeared to be peaceful
11:43@skynewsgathererKey that fitted padlock were found in bag, and another on set of keyrings on bedside cabinet
11:44@skynewsgathererNo trace of semen inside or outside bag Gareth's body found in
11:45@skynewsgathererCoroner says fingerprints that were NOT found are more significant. No prints on bath where expected
11:46@skynewsgathererOver 300 house to house enquires made, court told
11:48@skynewsgathererCoroner outlining how extra time & resources were put into looking for 3rd party after mistake was made in logging DNA evidence
11:49@skynewsgathererCoroner says Gareth was extremely intelligent and close to his family, with a sharp sense of humour. Also keen cyclist
11:50@skynewsgathererGareth was fell runner with passion for the mountains, interested in art, fashion, music and Japanese cartoons
11:51@skynewsgathererCoroner says interest in Manga was important piece of evidence and will come back to it
11:52@skynewsgathererGareth was a clearly private person, he had few friends - no friends visited his flat. He was single at time of death, says coroner
11:53@skynewsgathererEven Gareth's friends and family did not know he had been on fashion courses
11:55@skynewsgathererGareth's sister describes him as cautious risk assessor. Which coroner says is difficult to "square" with suggestion of bondage interest
11:56@skynewsgathererIf Gareth had interest in bondage Coroner says that she would have expected more Internet searching
11:57@skynewsgathererCoroner says she finds it "highly unlikely" that Gareth got into the bag as part of bondage
11:58@skynewsgathererIf Gareth had got into bag he would have taken knife in with him because he was a risk assessor, says coroner
12:00@skynewsgathererThere's no evidence of semen to suggest autoeroticism, says coroner. Also no evidence that Gareth was interested in cross dressing
12:00@skynewsgathererMost of women's clothes would have been too small for Gareth and lack of female underwear was "inconsistent"
12:01@skynewsgathererMake up and website browsing was more likely to be have been due his interest in Manga rather than being transvestite
12:03@skynewsgatherer1000 pound boots found at Gareth's flat would have fitted his sister
12:06@skynewsgathererCoroner questions whether leaks to the media about Gareth cross dressing were attempts to manipulate the evidence
12:08@skynewsgathererCoroner now turning to Gareth's state of mind
12:09@skynewsgathererGareth had asked to go back to GCHQ and move was not initiated by MI6. No one who knew him had worries about him
12:10@skynewsgathererNo evidence that Gareth wanted to leave and set up his own business or that he was being followed
12:14@skynewsgathererCoroner says Gareth had "robust" finances. He spent a lot of money on fashion collection but there's no evidence of debt
12:15@skynewsgathererNo evidence of suicide intent, says coroner
12:16@skynewsgathererCoroner says she is half way through her summing up
12:21@skynewsgathererCoroner going through evidence from MI6 workers and the fact it took a week to report Gareth missing
12:23@skynewsgathererCoroner says credibility of evidence difficult to accept - it not very often that MI6 officers are found in such peculiar circumstances
12:25@skynewsgathererWitness G says he had not seen holiday request card despite it being in a shared cupboard
12:26@skynewsgathererCoroner says Witness G had ample evidence to know Gareth was missing as he had failed to turn up at meetings
12:28@skynewsgathererThe fact that Witness G couldn't remember when he last saw Gareth was 'beginning to stretch the bounds of credibility' says coroner
12:32@skynewsgathererNothing was done to try and find Gareth until Aug 20th says corner. Witness G says it was 17th
12:33@skynewsgathererPhone records shows that no calls were made to Gareth's phone on 17th
12:35@skynewsgathererCoroner now turns to whether any evidence of interference with crime scene
12:37@skynewsgathererDCI Sebire had stated that there was no evidence that the bag had been washed and following 23 Aug crime scene was protected
12:37@skynewsgathererCoroner says its pure speculation that flat was entered by someone between 16th and 23rd Aug 2010
12:41@skynewsgathererCoroner says how Gareth's personal risk was not increased after he and team won award for "world class" project
12:42@skynewsgathererGareth had never worked "operationally" overseas and had never been to Afghanistan
12:43@skynewsgathererThere was no reason to think Gareth's death was connected to his work, says coroner
12:44@skynewsgatherer"Once more, lots of speculation and no evidence," says coroner
12:45@skynewsgathererGareth's body had minor unexplained injuries says coroner. No evidence of strangulation or defensive injuries
12:46@skynewsgathererPathologists agreed that although cause of death was unascertained only 2 possibilities. Suffocation or poisoning
12:46@skynewsgathererCoroner says she accepts that cause of death was unnatural
12:48@skynewsgathererCoroner says it is possible Gareth entered bag voluntarily outside bathroom and moved - but she says unlikely
12:49@skynewsgathererGrazes on elbows could have been caused by attempt by Gareth to reach the lock - however no evidence that he tried to escape
12:50@skynewsgatherer"On balance more likely that Gareth entered the bag alive & died soon afterwards either by hypercapnia or effects of unknown poison"
12:51@skynewsgathererCoroner says she cannot be sure death was unlawful
12:53@skynewsgatherer(Hypercapnia is too much carbon dioxide in blood)
12:54@skynewsgathererCoroner turns to bag expert evidence. Inquest heard from 2 people who tried to lock themselves into similar XL North Face holdall
12:58@skynewsgathererCororer: Either Gareth got in bag and moved to bath by 3rd party or was put in bag by 3rd party
12:59@skynewsgathererCoroner says that she is satisfied that 3rd party moved bag containing Gareth into the bath
13:00@skynewsgathererPoisoning remains a possibility as to how Gareth died says Coroner
13:01@skynewsgathererIt's remotely possible that Gareth was found dead in bag and moved - but why would 3rd party clean up if not involved, asks coroner
13:02@skynewsgathererHow did bag get in bath? It didn't levitate there. Why would the heating be on during a hot time of the year? Asks coroner
13:03@skynewsgathererCoroner says she had not seen any evidence of motive or direct causation of death. Or who 3rd party might be
13:04@skynewsgathererCoroner cannot return unlawful killing as she cannot be sure. She also discounts all other short term verdicts and chooses narrative verdict
13:05@skynewsgathererCoroner says wiped phone also raises questions as to whether it was used to arrange meeting
13:06@skynewsgathererCoroner says that on balance of probabilities Gareth was killed unlawfully
13:07@skynewsgathererCause of Gareth's death was unnatural and likely to have been "criminal" says coroner
13:08@skynewsgathererCoroner says Gareth's death was "criminally mediated"
13:10@skynewsgathererCoroner concludes by thanking barristers and DCI Jackie Sebire, officer in charge of case
13:10@skynewsgathererCoroner also passes sympathy to Gareth's family. "Nothing can be said to bring your son back to you," she says
13:12@skynewsgathererCoroner says death was criminally mediated - as yet death not treated as murder by Met, but as suspicious
13:28@skynewsgathererPhotographers waiting for statement from Gareth Williams family
13:40@skynewsgathererMI6 chief apologises "unreservedly" to Mr Williams's family over way inquiry hampered by his colleagues failing to react
13:44@skynewsgathererFamily statement on @SkyNews
13:45@skynewsgathererFamily disappointed in failures by MI6 to make possible evidence available to police
13:46@skynewsgathererFamily thank DCI Jackie Sebire. Say they miss Gareth every single day
13:54@skynewsgathererDCI Jackie Sebire says police now chasing new lines of enquiry raised during inquest
16:01@skynewsgathererAwaiting statement at New Scotland Yard for Met Police response to criticisms arising from Gareth Williams inquest
16:05@skynewsgathererStatement expected any minute from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt. It will be on @SkyNews
16:08@skynewsgathererMet: review launched into exhibit handling in Gareth Williams investigation
16:40@skynewsgathererPolice appeal for anyone with info relating to death of Gareth Williams to call incident room on 0208 358 0200 or crimestoppers
END OF SESSION 15. Wednesday Morning/Afternoon, May 2, 2012

Link to source of May 2 coverage