Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton buried body: Brother-in-law lied about murder

Joseph Doherty Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Joseph Doherty admitted perverting the course of justice

A man who lied to police about the death of his sister-in-law at the hands of his younger brother has been given a suspended prison sentence.

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

Joseph Doherty, 73, of Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to perverting the course of justice.

He was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for 12 months.

Ms Wilkanowska was killed by her ex-husband Gerald Doherty in 2003 and her body left under a pile of rubble in the back garden of a house in Icknield Way, Luton.

Mr Doherty travelled to Scotland to speak to his older brother Joseph. He then committed suicide in July 2003.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Natalia Wilkanowska's body lay hidden under rubble for 12 years
Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The court heard there was "no doubt" Gerald Doherty killed his ex-wife

Ms Wilkanowska's body was not found for another 12 years.

The charge stated that between 15 April 2003 and 2 December 2015, Joseph Doherty did a series of acts that "allowed Natalia's body to be hidden in the garden of the house and propagated a false account regarding the circumstances of her death".

Judge Michael Kay told Doherty it was "extraordinary" he lied to the police.

Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Ms Wilkanowska's body was found in the garden of a house in Luton in 2015

In January, Doherty had gone on trial with his brother Daniel.

He had denied one charge of perverting the course of justice, one of obstructing the coroner by giving a false account of her death and one charge of preventing her lawful burial.

The jury had been unable to reach verdicts and a retrial was ordered.

During that trial the judge had directed the jury to clear 67-year-old Daniel Doherty, who lived at the house in Icknield Way, Luton, where the remains were found.

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