Diane Douglas' partner killed and buried her in Colton garden – inquest


Diane DouglasImage source, Norfolk Police

Image caption,

Diane Douglas had not been seen for several years before her body was found

By Sam Russell and Mariam Issimdar

PA Media and BBC News, East

A man who killed his partner and buried her body convinced her family she was alive by sending texts from her phone, an inquest was told.

Diane Douglas had not been seen since late 2018, when she was 55 or 56, and living in Colton, near Norwich.

Her partner Stuart Williamson was arrested in November 2021 on suspicion of her murder after her body was found in grounds where they lived.

The inquest concluded Ms Douglas was unlawfully killed by Williamson.

Williamson, 56, killed himself while on remand in prison in December 2021.

The Norwich inquest heard that in a prepared statement, Williamson told police how in December 2018, while standing in their garden he “must have picked up a log and hit her with it” but claimed he had no memory of doing this, only the aftermath.

“He described how he must have hit her repeatedly, such were the injuries to her skull and the amount of blood,” said Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake.

In the statement, Williamson said he put her body in a wheelbarrow and pushed it into the garage, before burying her in the garden.

In a statement after the inquest, Ms Douglas’ family and friends said that Williamson had “financially abused” her to fund his lifestyle, using her NHS pension, disability benefits and savings.

“Between 2018 and 2021 Stuart Williamson led us to believe that Diane was alive and well through his use of Diane’s mobile telephone to send text messages to different family members, especially at birthdays and Christmas, and arranging meetings and then cancelling at the last minute.

“Everyday we know that true justice for Diane will never happen.”

Image source, Qays Najm/BBC

Image caption,

Diane Douglas’s body was found at one of Mr Williamson’s Colton properties

The inquest heard the property where they were both living, which Williamson rented in Barford Road, Colton, a village west of Norwich, was “secluded” and surrounded by trees.

The coroner said the pair met around 1986 and moved in together but in 2007 Ms Douglas was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a progressive illness which affects walking, talking and swallowing.

Their relationship broke down in 2011, and a year later, a cognitive examination showed Ms Douglas as “on the cusp of significant impairment”, Ms Lake said, forcing her to stop work as a psychiatric nurse.

The inquest heard there were “large amounts of money being transferred each year from Diane Douglas to Stuart Williamson which continued after she would have been killed”.

A member of the family reported their concerns to police in October 2021 and a missing person investigation was launched.

Ms Lake recorded that Ms Douglas was unlawfully killed, giving her medical cause of death as multiple blunt force head injuries.

She said this could be done on the balance of probabilities.

A pathologist had given the formal cause as unascertained due to the state of decomposition of the body.

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