Britain’s biggest unsolved murder in recent history

This case is quite disturbing as it involves Britain’s Secret Service MI6 and the unexplained death of one of its employees.

The murder has been labelled as one of the ‘strangest unsolved UK mysteries’. 

Gareth Williams was a very high achiever in education and achieved A-level mathematics and computer science aged just 13. He went on to achieve a first-class degree in Maths at age 17 and started work on a PHD in Manchester University at age 18. 

Aged 22 Gareth Williams was offered employment by the British Government at the GCHQ listening centre in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. All was well until one day Gareth just stopped turning up for work.

The Metropolitan Police were alerted to the murder of Gareth Williams when his colleagues reported that he had been out of contact for several days. In August 2010, police officers were sent to Williams’ home in Pimlico, London to carry out a welfare check.

Police gained entry with a spare key and found the property in neat and tidy order, with the curtains closed. The shower curtain was closed and all lights were out. 

Tragically, officers then found a large red North Face bag, with a padlock on it. The bag was in the bathtub in the ensuite bathroom of the property. A police officer found a key to the lock and having opened the bag, Gareth William's body was discovered. 

Gareth William's body was naked and already in a state of decomposition and of course coroner, Fiona Wilcox was called upon to undertake a post-mortem examination. There was very little in the way of injury to the body and no signs of a struggle, just some bruising on Gareth’s elbows, he was in the foetal position. 

A toxicology report was inconclusive because the body had been decomposing for at least a week. Despite it being midsummer the central heating had been set to the full temperature which of course harboured decomposition. It was therefore impossible to say whether Gareth had died in or out of the bag. 

I fail to see how it would have been likely death occurred inside the bag as there would have almost certainly been a considerable struggle. 

The crime scene was examined forensically, yet there were no signs of fingerprints or DNA belonging to Williams on the outside of the case, the padlock, handles or velcro or even the rim of the bath. It seems that the red bag must have had Williams in it before it was placed into the bath. Strangely another key to the padlock was discovered underneath the body inside the bag.

The bathroom doorknob had been removed, and the front door to the flat had been locked from the outside, so it would seem that the killer had a key to the flat. 

Inconclusive fragments of DNA from at least two other unknown suspects were found on the bag, though a forensic examination concluded there was no sign of forced entry into Williams’ home.

Doctor Fiona Wilcox voiced concerns in her coroner’s report about the length of time that it took for Gareth to be reported missing, which could have affected the enquiry. The doctor said that the evidence given by his GCHQ line manager “begins to stretch the bounds of credibility” and that the delay could have caused key evidence at the scene to be lost.

The Williams family solicitor said, “Gareth’s employers failed to make even the most basic enquiries about his welfare and whereabouts”.

Dr Wilcox also raised issues with regard to the lack of cooperation on the part of the Metropolitan Police’s SO15 Counter Terrorism Branch. The officer from the SO15 who was supposed to be liaising with the Secret Intelligence Agency was aware of the presence of nine memory sticks in Gareth’s office, along with a North Face bag, similar to the one in which Mr Williams was found. 

So why did the officer fail to make the lead murder detectives on the case aware of this, saying that he had been assured by the intelligence agencies that the items were not relevant? The coroner questioned whether the officer was truly impartial in the case.

An inquest held in 2012 decided that there was something suspicious and natural about the death and it was said that it was highly likely that the death had been a result of criminal activity particularly as there was an obvious lack of fingerprints and footprints in the bathroom. 

During the investigation, it was suggested that Gareth may have died in part of a sex act that went wrong. A number of enquiries were made into his private life during which a video was found by the police on his phone of him “wagging his rear end” at the camera. His landlady also told police that she was once called to Gareth’s flat and found him tied to his bed after getting stuck.

Still very little is known about Gareth’s sex life and he seems to have been a private person there is nothing to suggest that he would padlock himself in a holdall in his bath with the lights off. His family and friends maintain that it is unlikely that he would have done such a thing.

So having said that, the question remains “Why did detectives from the Metropolitan Police declare the death of Willams as ‘accidental’ and close the investigation down”?

In a briefing at the conclusion of the case, the Metropolitan Police concluded that Gareth’s death was just an accident and that no one else was present when he died. This is of course an absolute contradiction of the coroner’s verdict, the beliefs of the Williams family, their solicitor and the various experts who were involved in the investigation and attended the scene. 

The press had a bit of a field day with this case as they somehow managed to discover that Gareth had visited some sexual bondage websites and had searched “bondage training” on YouTube. His internet search history apparently revealed that Gareth had an interest in Women’s fashion and indeed it was confirmed that over £20,000 of women’s clothing was found in the flat.

The press went completely crazy, publishing stories saying that that the flat contained the class A drug cocaine, gay porn and S&M paraphernalia. They also insinuated that Gareth was a cross-dresser and paid male prostitutes for sex. The detectives who searched the flat strongly refute those statements which the family called “a smear campaign”.

Clearly, the establishment has blatantly avoided the most obvious explanation for Mr Williams’ death. The point that is not clear is why.

In June 2021, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that forensic evidence relating to the death of Williams was being reviewed with advances in forensic science potentially proving useful in reviewing the evidence, such as a hair that was allegedly found in Gareths’ hand.

Interestingly there has been nothing further on this very mysterious case since and it is my team's opinion that Gareth Williams did not die alone or as a result of sexual antics that went wrong. If nothing else the one clue that rules this out is the fact that the front door of the flat was locked from the outside, how could Gareth have got back into the flat? 

I will leave this one there and hope that you have enjoyed the case, we will be making some further enquiries and if you would like to discuss this case or any aspect of our work, you know I love to hear from you.

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