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Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
'Cold' feeling over Gambia charge
Kate and William West
Kate and William West pictured in Hastings before he went missing
A man who went to Africa to look for a missing family friend has said he felt "a cold emptiness" when the pensioner's wife was charged with murder.

David Jenkins flew to The Gambia to look for William West, 76, from St Helen's Park, Hastings, East Sussex after he went missing three weeks ago.

Mr West's burnt body was found in a sack near his holiday home last week.

His Ghanaian-born wife Kate, 26, has been charged with murder but denies any involvement in Mr West's death.

Mr Jenkins, who flew from the UK to The Gambia with Mrs West, said he found it hard to describe his feelings when she was charged.

Kate helped him a lot - he certainly became a happier man
David Jenkins

"Obviously there was deep sadness but all I can remember feeling is empty," he said.

"I was very close to Kate during the time that the body was recovered.

"A couple of people have asked me if I felt angry but the honest truth is that I didn't - it was a cold emptiness."

Mr West went missing while he and his wife were staying at their holiday home in Sanyang, The Gambia.

His remains were found outside the perimeter fence of the four-bedroom property.

Mr West's first wife, Doris, whom friends said was the love of his life, died in 1994.

Doris West
Mr West's first wife Doris died six years before he married Kate

He married Kate six years ago, just months after the couple met in The Gambia, and returned to live with her in Hastings.

"She helped him a lot - he certainly became a happier man - and in practical terms, the house ran smoothly," said Mr Jenkins.

Police in The Gambia have said his second wife was a beneficiary of Mr West's will.

Two men are also being questioned and a forensic examination is being carried out to determine the cause of death.

Gambia Police spokesman Aziz Bojang said they would accept an offer from the British High Commission to help with the forensic work.

"We are looking at the case from the point when Mr West was burnt to establish exactly what happened," he said.

"We are looking at the possibility that Mr West was murdered and that burning took place just as a means of disposal.

"We cannot confirm that he was burnt alive but that still remains a remote possibility."

Find out more about the police investigation in Africa

Country profile: Senegal
26 May 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: The Gambia
10 May 06 |  Country profiles
Wife charged with Gambia murder
22 Jul 06 |  Southern Counties
Wife held after Gambia body find
21 Jul 06 |  Southern Counties
Missing man's wife in Africa hunt
18 Jul 06 |  Southern Counties

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