A British spy whose naked body was found padlocked in a bag in his bathtub was probably unlawfully killed, a coroner concluded on Wednesday on the final day of day of the inquest into his death.
But it is “unlikely” that the full circumstances of the death in 2010 of Gareth Williams, a high-flying codebreaker with the MI6 external intelligence agency, will ever be explained, coroner Fiona Wilcox added.
“I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully,” said Wilcox.
She told the inquest she was “satisfied” that “a third party moved the bag containing Gareth into the bath” in his London flat.
The inquest had heard that experts were unable to agree how Williams had died.
The hearings focused on whether he could have locked himself into the holdall as part of a lone sex act, after examination of his computer showed he had visited bondage websites.
But Wilcox said it was “highly unlikely” that the 31-year-old could have got inside the red North Face holdall alone and observed that the surfaces around the bathtub were strangely clear of any evidence.
“If Gareth had been carrying out some kind of peculiar experiment, he wouldn’t care if he left any foot- or fingerprints,” Wilcox concluded.
Williams said she did not have enough evidence to give a definitive verdict of unlawful killing, and instead delivered a two-hour narrative verdict listing all the possibilities.
The inquest heard last week from experts who had failed to padlock themselves into bags identical to Williams’, despite several hundred attempts. One expert said escapologist Harry Houdini “would have struggled” to pull off the feat.
Williams’ family said before the inquest they believe secret agents versed in the “dark arts” tried to cover up his death.