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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 13:34 GMT
Parcel bomb murder accused dies
Keith Cottingham after his arrest in Spain
Mr Cottingham had been declared too ill to stand trial in June
A man due to stand trial for the parcel bomb murder of a wealthy grandmother 20 years ago in Kent has died in prison.

Keith Cottingham, 73, was due be tried in January 2005 for Barbara Harrold's murder in Sevenoaks after a previous trial was halted due to his ill health.

He had been in prison since he was extradited from Spain in 2002, where he moved to from Kent in 1981.

Police confirmed Mr Cottingham, who was once on a "most wanted" list, died in Belmarsh Prison on Friday.

Gift-wrapped device

It was alleged Mr Cottingham became embroiled in a row with the Harrolds over a house he bought from them in Spain in 1981.

Mrs Harrold died six days after she opened a parcel at her home in The Street, Ightham in May 1984.

The gift wrapped device, allegedly sent by Mr Cottingham, blasted nails and darts into her stomach.

Mr Cottingham, who was born in Kent, had worked for Canterbury City Council in pest control for 12 years before he bought the villa in Spain.

Barbara Harrold
Mrs Harrold died six days after opening the parcel bomb
After Mrs Harrold's murder he continued to live in Spain and his name was included in a list of Britain's most wanted criminals living in the country.

In 1985 extradition rules changed and Mr Cottingham faced being sent back to be tried for the murder.

Despite his lawyers fighting extradition on the grounds of his ill health, Mr Cottingham was eventually returned to England in October 2002.

He was charged with Mrs Harrold's murder and remained in Elmley Prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

An Old Bailey trial scheduled for June 2004 was halted because of his poor health and was adjourned until 17 January 2005.

Kent Police said Mr Cottingham's death was not being treated as suspicious and the matter was being dealt with by the coroner.

He suffered from diabetes and had claimed to have leukaemia and dementia.

Mirror 'killer' On Run 18years Dies In Jail - 27 hrs ago
The Sun 'Bomb' man dies in jail - 33 hrs ago
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'Most wanted' man set to return
30 Jul 02 |  England

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