Kenya holiday deaths: Animal attack theory over Essex couple's deaths

Norman and Rita Joel
Image caption Norman and Rita Joel made regular trips to their holiday home in Kenya

The deaths of an Essex couple in Kenya in 2009 were consistent with injuries from an animal attack, but the exact cause was unknown, an inquest heard.

Norman Joel, 70, and his wife Rita, 67, were believed to have been killed at their Mombasa home before being found 12 miles (20km) away.

Three men were found not guilty of their murder at the High Court in Mombasa in May.

An inquest in Chelmsford recorded an open verdict on their deaths.

The couple, who both had minor disabilities and were from Leigh-on-Sea, had built a holiday home in Kenya's second city on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Local police told the BBC at the time that the Joels had been murdered and their bodies moved to another location.

The inquest heard their bodies were returned to the UK and the coroner ordered further post-mortem examinations.

The results showed they had neck injuries consistent with an animal attack, but the inquest was told the exact cause of the wounds could not be determined because there was not enough forensic evidence from Kenya.

Caroline Beasley-Murray, senior coroner for Essex, recorded the open verdict and said the Joels' family had had to endure the lengthy ordeal of waiting for the outcome of criminal proceedings in Kenya.

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