Dead spy was found padlocked inside bag

The British codebreaker found dead in the bath of his London flat last month had been padlocked inside a sports holdall, an inquest heard yesterday.

Gareth Williams, 31, is thought to have been dead for more than a week when his remains were discovered on 23 August at his home in Pimlico, half a mile from the headquarters of the secret intelligence service MI6, where he worked.

Colleagues reported him missing when he did not turn up for work for at least 10 days. He was last seen eight days before his body was found, Westminster Coroner's Court was told.

A post-mortem examination failed to establish a cause of death but a pathologist said Mr Williams was not stabbed or shot and bore no obvious signs of strangulation.

Detectives are still trying to determine whether he was asphyxiated or poisoned, or whether drugs or alcohol were in his system. The coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, said the body was in an advanced state of decay when discovered by police, and was in a sports bag that had been "padlocked shut".

Sources within the murder team have said suggestions of national security or terrorism links to the case are "pretty low down the list of probabilities". They say officers are examining Mr Williams's private affairs and not his professional life. Originally from Anglesey in north Wales, he was days from completing a one-year secondment to MI6 from his job at GCHQ, the Government "listening post" at Cheltenham which monitors communications for intelligence purposes.

Dr Knapman said he was to be kept informed of how the inquiry was progressing and would consider when to release the body. The inquest was adjourned for a week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific