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Woman found under rubble in garden had fractured skull

Natalia Wilkanowska Image copyright SBNA
Image caption Natalia Wilkanowska was married to Gerald Doherty, the defendants' brother, for 23 years

A mother whose body lay under builders' rubble for 12 years had suffered a fractured skull, a court has heard.

Natalia Wilkanowska, 50, disappeared in 2003 after travelling to visit her ex-husband Gerald Doherty in Luton.

Her body was found in the garden of the house in Icknield Way in December 2015.

Mr Doherty died in 2003. His brothers Joseph and Daniel Doherty are on trial at Luton Crown Court accused of helping conceal her remains and lying to police, charges they deny.

Pathologist Dr Nat Cary told the jury Ms Wilkanowska had suffered a fractured skull consistent with blunt force trauma.

He said the injury "was consistent with falling down stairs, being hit with a weapon or being kicked or stamped on".

Prosecutor Neil King said Ms Wilkanowska's ex-husband was responsible for her death. The couple had separated in 2001 after 23 years of marriage.

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The court heard Gerald Doherty took his own life at a flat in Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire, on the date of their wedding anniversary in July 2003. He had been receiving psychiatric care.

Image copyright SBNA
Image caption Natalia Wilkanowska's body was found in the garden of the Luton property in December 2015

Mr King said the couple's children believed their mother was missing.

The jury also heard that Joseph Doherty told his niece Allison Diamond-Roberts Ms Wilkanowska had been the victim of a crime of passion.

Mrs Diamond-Roberts said: "He said my uncle (Gerald) had strangled her.

"He said there was no point looking for her as we wouldn't find her. He said she had been cut up and her body put in black bin bags and distributed all over Luton and that's why we would never find her."

Gerald Doherty's brothers face a total of seven charges relating to the disposal of Natalia's remains.

Daniel Doherty, 67, of Icknield Way, Luton, denies two charges of perverting the course of justice and two charges of obstructing the coroner by aiding and abetting the concealment of the body and by lying to the police.

Joseph Doherty, 73, of Old Greenock Road, Port Glasgow, Scotland, denies perverting the course of justice and obstructing the coroner by giving a false account of her death.

Both men deny preventing lawful burial.

The trial continues.

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