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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Mum lay dead in rubbish pile for 19 months before being found

The body of Julie Ann Watson was found in a back yard
The body of Julie Ann Watson was found in a back yard

Claire Graham

A MOTHER of three lay dead in a pile for rubbish for 19 months before anyone noticed, a Belfast coroner's court heard.

The skeletal remains were discovered buried under six feet of bin bags in the backyard of a derelict property in Belfast two years ago.

Julie Ann Watson, originally from Ballycregagh, Co Antrim, was curled up in the foetal position. She was identified from DNA samples taken from her spine.

Her body was so badly decomposed no cause of death could be determined.

Coroner Jim Kitson told her inquest: "It goes without saying that this is a desperately sad and tragic case."

He added: "It is also in some ways shocking that the body of a young woman of some 37 years of age can lie undiscovered for a period of 19 months."

The court was told that the rear of the Donegall Avenue property in Belfast had been a common spot for fly-tipping.

Former landlord Marc Doherty said the amount of bin bags and other articles dumped there could have filled two large industrial builder skips.

An elderly neighbour alerted Belfast City Council to the heap of rubbish in December 2010. In April the following year, Ms Watson was found by construction workers near the blocked entrance.

The mother-of-three had faced a life of alcohol addiction and poor mental health, the court heard. All three of her children were taken away by social services.

Her friend Nicola Johnston told the court: "Her life seemed so down, she wouldn't be getting back up again. She drank from morning to night. She was sitting crying like a baby."

Her brother hadn't seen Julie Ann since 2006, following a dispute. She was last seen alive in August 2009 and all bank activity ceased one month later, a police officer told the court.

Pathologist Dr Alistair Bentley said there was evidence of trauma to her ribs and skull from earlier injuries.

These wounds had been healing at the time of death and the bone fractures were unrelated to how she died, he said. A bone in her neck had been broken through pressure or force.

The pathologist added: "Within the limits imposed by the degree of decomposition, there was nothing that I found to suggest that she had been the victim of a homicide."

An aerosol spray and bag were found next to her. Although solvent abuse can cause sudden death, the court was told because the she lacked any bodily fluids, it could not be proven that this was the cause of death.

The coroner offered his sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased. He said: "Her death will remain undetermined due to advanced decomposition."

Irish Independent

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