Chess girl's mother quizzed over plot to kill ex-husband

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The Independent Online

A mother whose ex-husband stood trial for raping their daughter, who died weeks before the teenager was due to testify against him in court, has been questioned by police over an alleged plot to murder him.

Dr Angela Gilbert was interviewed last week after an email to Crimestoppers tipped off police that she had offered a hitman a large sum of money to kill Ian Gilbert on the second anniversary of their daughter Jessie's death.

Jessie Gilbert, a chess prodigy, was 19 when she died, falling from an eighth-floor hotel window on 26 July 2006 while competing in an international chess tournament in Pardubice, Czech Republic. A post-mortem examination revealed she had been drinking and had taken prescribed anti-depressants.

Ms Gilbert, who played for England in a chess tournament and had won a place at Oxford to study medicine, had alleged in a formal complaint to police in 2005 that her father had sexually abused her since the age of eight.

Ian Gilbert, a director at the Royal Bank of Scotland, was tried at Guildford crown court in December 2006 on five counts of raping his daughter. Jessie was to give evidence against him but instead the jury was shown a video interview given to police. Mr Gilbert was cleared of all rape charges, and also of two counts of rape and four of indecent assault relating to other people.

Dr Gilbert said she was sure Jessie had killed herself because she felt "tortured" over the alleged abuse by her father and was worried about giving evidence against him at his trial.

At the inquest into her death last September, Coroner Michael Burgess said he was not convinced that Jessie had intended to commit suicide, and recorded an open verdict.

Dr Gilbert, a 54-year-old research scientist, went voluntarily to Reigate police station for questioning last week, and detectives have since cleared her of suspicion. She had been interviewed "in connection with information regarding making a threat to kill," Surrey police said in a statement. "We have to take this sort of information very seriously whether anonymous or from a named person. We have investigated the allegation, concluded this investigation and no further action will be taken."

Dr Gilbert said: "It's ludicrous, complete nonsense. It is just ridiculous to say that I want my ex-husband dead.

"The email said that initially I just wanted him seriously injured and then later I changed the instructions and said I ordered him to be killed.

"That was all the information the police would disclose to me. It is really upsetting for my children to see their mother arrested over threats to kill their dad when the accusations are totally baseless."

Mr Gilbert had no comment, his solicitor said. The Gilberts lived in Surrey with Jessie and their three other daughters. Jessie won the Women's World Amateur Chess Championship in 1999 aged 11.