Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2004 15:30 UK

Julie Ward death was 'unlawful'

Julie Ward
Julie Ward's jeep was found about five miles from her campsite

An inquest into the death of Julie Ward in Kenya 16 years ago has ruled she was unlawfully killed.

Miss Ward's father, John, has always maintained the 28-year-old was murdered in the Masai Mara game reserve in 1988.

He hoped the verdict at Ipswich on Tuesday would spark a new investigation into the murder in Kenya and help bring the killers to justice.

Kenyan officials initially said she had committed suicide or had been attacked by wild animals.

It was later admitted Miss Ward had been murdered and three park rangers were tried but cleared.

Following the week-long inquest Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said: "There is only one proper verdict for me to record and that is one of unlawful killing."

But he added that a new investigation of the murder in Kenya was the only way of achieving justice for Miss Ward, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and her family.

You could probably solve this (death) around the table without having to go to the Masai Mara
John Ward
The new Kenyan government, which admitted a "cover-up" had more than likely been instigated by the country's previous rulers, has indicated an inquiry into the death was likely if further evidence came to light.

The coroner was also told by Lincolnshire Police during the inquest that "significant" evidence had been found from a new informant which could lead to the killers.

Dr Dean said: "The net is closing around those responsible for this awful and brutal crime."

Mr Ward said the new evidence and the unlawfully killing verdict were what he had hoped for.

"I am extremely pleased of course," he said. "It is not a surprise you understand. We had known how Julie died but it is nice to have an official verdict."

He added that the admissions from the Kenyan justice minister during the hearing had also been a great step forward.

John Ward
John Ward was praised for his resolve and tenacity
"He recognised there had been problems in the past with the Kenyan government and has undertaken to put that situation right," he said.

The next step for Mr Ward would be a meeting between him, Lincolnshire Police and Kenyan justice officials.

He added with the evidence Lincolnshire Police now have: "You could probably solve this around the table without having to go to the Masai Mara."

Mr Ward has fought for years to discover what happened to his daughter, travelling to Kenya to investigate the death and put pressure on the authorities.

On one trip Mr Ward, with the help of park rangers, found burnt remains of his daughter who had been in the country taking photographs when she went missing.

Dr Dean said Miss Ward's father had been the single reason the murder had been uncovered.

"Without the tenacity and resolve which John Ward showed in the aftermath of the murder itself and the 16 years since then, everything we now know about what happened to Julie would have been lost in a cover up 16 years ago," he said.

video and audio news
The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"Julie Ward had been travelling through Africa photographing wildlife"

Julie's killers 'will be found'
30 Apr 04 |  Suffolk
Secret agent 'briefed' on Julie
29 Apr 04 |  Suffolk
Kenya 'obstructed' Ward inquiry
28 Apr 04 |  Suffolk

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