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Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 12:49 UK

Mob kills UK gems expert in Kenya

Campbell Bridges (pic: www.tsavorite.com)
Campbell Bridges was credited with discovering the rare stone Tsavorite

A leading British-born gems expert has been killed in Kenya by a gang armed with clubs, spears, bows and arrows.

Campbell Bridges, 71, was attacked by 20 men in the grounds of his 600-acre property near the southern town of Voi.

He fought off the mob with his son Bruce and four Kenyan staff but died of his injuries on arrival at hospital.

Police are investigating the attack which is reportedly connected to a three-year dispute over access and control of Mr Bridges' gemstone mines.

Police said he was driving his pick-up truck in the grounds of his home within a national park when he was ambushed by about 20 men brandishing crude home-made weapons.

Witnesses said his injuries were caused by stab wounds from a knife. No-one else was injured in the attack on Tuesday.

Mr Bridges' body has since been flown to the capital Nairobi.

He would stand up to anyone. He would have gone in with his fists flying if someone attacked him
The Rev John Ellison
Victim's friend

A close friend, the Rev John Ellison, 72, from Alton, Hampshire, told the BBC Scotland news website that the internationally-renowned gemmologist would have put up a strong fight.

"He was very fit, strong and confrontational but a lovely man nevertheless," he said.

"He would stand up to anyone. He would have gone in with his fists flying if someone attacked him."

He added that his "wonderful" friend had "a quick fuse if anyone was dishonest".

Mr Bridges was born in the UK but had lived in the African country most of his life.

He is credited with discovering the green Tsavorite gem, a rare stone unique to the region, and also worked as a special consultant to the New York jewellers, Tiffany and Co.

Map of Kenya

Mr Ellison revealed that Mr Bridges had previously been threatened as he owned mining rights and therefore knew where the deposits were.

"He was very well known in Africa and the gemstone industry, which gave him a lifetime achievement award," he said.

"He had a fund of stories and I was privileged to have been the first person outside his family to know of his discovery in 1971. This is terrible news."

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of Campbell Bridges on 11 August following injuries sustained in an attack near Voi in Kenya.

"British consular officials are liaising with the local authorities who have confirmed that an investigation is under way."

Mr Bridges leaves a wife, Judy, and two grown-up children, Laura and Bruce.



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