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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Profile: Kenneth Bigley
Kenneth Bigley
Mr Bigley and his first wife lost their son Paul in a road accident

Kenneth Bigley was killed just over three weeks after he was taken hostage in Iraq.

He died at the hands of his captors on Thursday, despite a high profile and emotional campaign to secure his release.

The 62-year-old was preparing to retire to a new home in Bangkok with his Thai wife of seven years, Sombat, when he was snatched from the Baghdad suburb in which he lived.

After a life of travelling the globe, he had planned on Iraq being his last posting before settling down for good.

Mr Bigley was also looking forward to the birth of his first grandchild, due in February.

Childhood sweetheart

Kenneth Bigley was born in the streets close to his beloved Everton FC's Goodison Park, to mother Lil, originally from Stepaside, County Dublin, and father Thomas, a shipyard worker.

Lil, now 86, was taken ill earlier in the family's campaign for his release after appealing directly on television for her son to be freed.

Mr Bigley's three brothers - Stan, Paul and Philip - also campaigned tirelessly to try to secure his release, along with his surviving son Craig.

I'm not afraid. You only die once
Ken Bigley

The oldest sibling Stan, 65, has retired from his job as a driving instructor and lives in Wigan.

Paul, 54, runs a Dutch engineering firm and was particularly outspoken in his criticism of the government's handling of his brother's ordeal.

The youngest, Philip, 49, is a businessman.

A civil engineer, Ken Bigley had worked in many parts of the world.

After leaving school he took an apprenticeship and later completed his national service with the Scots Guards.

He married his childhood sweetheart Margaret and in 1967 they moved to Australia on a 10 assisted passage, which was offered at the time to skilled British immigrants.

Son's death

It was there they had their first son Craig, now 33.

They then moved to New Zealand, where Mr Bigley continued his engineering career until a new opportunity arose in the UK.

He took it and returned home, and later the couple bought two supermarkets in Hoylake on the Wirral.

Following a hammer attack by a suspected thief his wife is said to have become unsettled in the North West, and the family moved to Somerset.

They bought a pub in East Huntspill, near Taunton.

But in 1986, their 17-year-old son Paul was knocked down by a lorry as he cycled to deposit his pocket money in a savings account, and he fell into a coma.

Brothers Stanley and Philip (left and right) and son Craig (middle)
Mr Bigley's family never gave up in their fight to secure his release

Ken Bigley had to make the decision to turn off Paul's life support machine.

His marriage to Margaret later broke down.

Mr Bigley again left Britain and opened a pub in Spain, where he stayed for two years.

He later decided to resume his engineering career in the Middle East, after seeking advice from his brother Paul, who had worked there.

He worked in several Gulf states, including Dubai, Oman and Kuwait, before moving to Iraq after the war.

It was during his travels that Mr Bigley met his second wife Sombat.

He had been working for Middle East-based general services and construction contractor Gulf Supplies and Commercial Services, for seven years.

He made annual trips back to Liverpool to visit his family and to watch Everton games with son Craig.

His wife and family had tried to persuade him to give up his job as the security situation in Baghdad deteriorated.

Noted by friends for his generosity, he had let neighbours have free use of his electricity supply.

Sombat and Ken Bigley
Ken Bigley married his second wife Sombat in a ceremony in Thailand

His relaxed attitude to security was demonstrated by his distinctive 4x4 vehicle and his rejection of armed guards used by other Westerners.

When questioned about the dangers by Iraqi neighbours, he reportedly answered: "I'm not afraid. You only die once."

His love for the Middle East which outweighed any fears, according to his brother Philip.

He was kidnapped on 16 September along with Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong from the home they shared in the Mansour district.

All were beheaded by their captors.

The nature of his job in Iraq remains clouded in mystery. While some reports said the trio were working on a US army contract others insist it was a civilian project.




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