Mum’s missing body found under rubble

Natalia Doherty
Natalia Doherty

A woman’s body lay under builder’s rubble in a back garden for over 12 years before it was discovered, a jury heard this week.

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

Her children believed she was missing but, after the death of another relative, Gerald’s older brother Joseph revealed to family members that Gerald had killed her during an argument and chopped up her body.

But Luton crown court was told that Natalia had not been chopped up, her body was left under rubble in the garden of another brother Daniel Doherty in Icknield Way, Luton.

Her remains had never been buried. She had suffered trauma to the skull, according to a pathologist.

Prosecutor Neil King said Gerald Doherty, who hanged himself in a flat in Robert Street, Port Glasgow in July 2003 on the couple’s wedding anniversary, was responsible for the untimely death of Natalia. The couple had married in 1978, but separated in September 2001.

His two elderly brothers, who both wore hearing loops in the dock, face a total of seven charges.

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 the lawful burial of Natalia.

Mr King said: “In April 2003 Natalia Wilkanowska was taken by her ex-husband Gerald in a car to Luton. There was no evidence of her being seen alive again.

“Months later Gerald Doherty was released from psychiatric care in Scotland and hanged himself on the anniversary of his wedding to Natalia Wilkanowska.”

He told the jury that the couple’s children believed their mother was missing. But following the death of another member of the family in early 2014, the older brother Joseph shockingly revealed that Gerald Doherty had killed Natalia.

He said: “Joseph Doherty said Gerald Doherty had killed Natalia and chopped her up in circumstances that she would never be found. He repeated the comments in front of family members, one of whose was a police officer.

“Following the remarks, police became involved in January 2014 and took statements. Joseph Doherty repeated the same tale that Gerald had killed his wife and chopped her up. Daniel said he knew nothing about it.”

But Mr King said Natalia’s remains were found intact under builder’s rubble at the house of Daniel in Icknield Way.

He alleged Daniel, who worked as a builder and had been a publican at the Regent’s Arms in Luton, must have connived in the deposition of the body.

He said both men lied to the police and obstructed the coroner.

Daniel Doherty told the police he did not know the remains were in his garden and did not have exclusive access to the property. He said he had no idea his brother was responsible for the death and that he did not know it had been placed at his address.

Joseph Doherty told the police said he did not know the body was in Daniel’s garden. He will say he was honestly reporting what Gerald had told him years before.

Case proceeding