British gorilla expert Dr Ymke Warren murdered in Cameroon after chef she sacked hired a hitman

Inquest in Westminster hears how the unruly member of conservation site staff bore a grudge after he was fired for getting into fights and having an affair with a volunteer

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The Independent Online

A British gorilla expert was killed at her home in Cameroon after a chef she had sacked hired an assassin for £5,000, an inquest heard.

World-renowned scientist Dr Ymke Warren, 40, had been living in the country for seven years studying the world’s largest primates at a conservation site.

One of the employees at the reserve was a cook called Timbu Collins, who Dr Warren fired because he kept getting into fights and had an affair with an American volunteer.

Bearing a grudge, Mr Collins paid a gang of criminals to kill her.

Westminster Coroner’s Court heard how Dr Warren’s boyfriend Aaron Nicholas, who attended the inquest, returned to their home just after 8am to find her lying in a pool of blood with her hands bound and her throat slit, the Telegraph reported.

Assistant coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said it was most likely the killer had hidden in the attic while he waited for Mr Nicholas to leave for work, before tying up and gagging Dr Warren.

The inquest also heard how the couple’s housemaid, Priscilla, had arrived at the home to find the expert and her assailant before the fatal blow was dealt.

Priscilla told police how Dr Warren accused the assassin of being a thief, to which he replied: “You are tough, now you are going to see,” before kicking her legs away from underneath her and slitting her throat.

On Mr Nicholas’s return the attacker, who had not yet fled, tried to accost him as well. The 44-year-old was able to escape and get help, and though Dr Warren was then still alive, she later died in hospital.

Three members of the gang which arranged the killing were arrested and jailed by Cameroon police, but two remain on the loose and no one has ever been able to track down the chef, Mr Collins.

After the inquest Mr Nicholas, who works in Britain for the Born Free conservation project, paid tribute to Dr Warren.

He told the Telegraph her unceasing passion “was the spark that brought us together”. He added: “We really want one last push to bring these people to justice.”