Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Three Experts Look at the Next Stage

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Three Experts Look at the Next Stage

Article excerpt

Byline: Ross Lydall

NIGEL McCRERY EX-POLICEMAN A FORMER murder squad detective who devised the BBC1 drama Silent Witness, McCrery said the pathologist would be vital in solving the mystery surrounding the death of Gareth Williams. "That's the only person who can really give an indication to police in cases like this," he said. "If the case isn't solved within 48 hours, the chance of it being solved goes down by 70 per cent. After that it's footslogging and good old-fashioned detective work. "The first thing is to establish where he died. If he is naked, where are his clothes? Has anything disappeared from his flat? There is a famous adage that every contact leaves a trace. I think there is a very good chance it will get solved. I don't think it's anything to do with the Russians or spies -- perhaps it was a sexual encounter that got out of hand (Williams's family has denied he led a homosexual lifestyle). People are fascinated by other people's lives. It's also a puzzle -- we are great puzzle-solvers. That is why Agatha Christie was so successful. It is a bit like an episode of Silent Witness meets Spooks."

DR STUART HAMILTON HOME OFFICE PATHOLOGIST ONE of 36 Home Office pathologists covering England and Wales, Dr Hamilton said a key factor would be the state of the decomposition of the body.

"The worse the state of the body, the less likely it is that the post-mortem will be conclusive," said Dr Hamilton. "We will tend to get all of the 'trappings' -- the clothes and any possessions -- that were found with the body. All of these things can help you work through to what the police are asking: is this a homicide or not? But a body in a bag is suspicious. Sometimes you just have to conclude that you can't identify a cause of death. Figures show that one case in 20 will not yield a cause of death at autopsy, although my experience is that it's considerably lower than that. …

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