Police accused of 'obstructing' probe into Bath man's murder in Mongolia

A colleague and friend of a Bath man shot dead while working in Mongolia 13 years ago has accused the country’s police of being ‘deliberately obstructive’ in the investigation into his death.

An inquest was held today into the death of Tim Jarman of Northampton Street, who was killed in his apartment while working on an eight-month operation in the Mongolian capital of Ulaan Bator in June 1997.

But the mystery of how and why he came to receive a single gunshot wound to the head has never been solved, and the Mongolian investigation into the incident was closed in 1999.

An inquest was finally held after Avon coroner’s office received enough paperwork for a hearing to take place.

Evidence was heard from a number of witnesses including the 50-year-old’s friend and colleague, Robert Walters.

Mr Walters was working alongside agricultural consultant Mr Jarman at the time and was initially questioned as part of the investigation.

Although he was never formally arrested, he said he and another of Mr Jarman’s friends Tina Ohmahn had been interrogated by the authorities and accused of murdering him.

He said: “The evidence they seemed to base this around was one single photo with me and Tina either side and Tim in the middle with his arms around our shoulders taken at some special event.

“All three of us were good friends but they said we had been involved in a sexual relationship.

“My assumption that they drew this conclusion is because in Mongolia they don’t tend to make physical contact with each other unless they are involved in a sexual relationship.

“But that was their main evidence.”

Mr Walter, who has since trained to be a police officer himself, said: “The Mongolian investigation was utterly flawed, I know they have been unobstructive and cooperative since, but I think at best they were unwilling and inept and at worst deliberately obstructive.”

The inquest heard there was speculation that Mr Jarman was assassinated because he may have found evidence of corruption involving the distribution of aid money through his work in the capital for a development bank.

Ms Ohmahn suspected this was the case. Her statement, read by coroner’s officer Laurie Cook, said: “I thought he knew something about the funds and was going to blow his whistle on Monday.”

Mr Walters shared her suspicion and said he would not have been surprised if the Mongolian authorities were involved with his murder.

He described how he was interrogated for hours by the force and felt as though he was being led by officers.

He said: “It would not surprise me if the Mongolian authorities had some involvement in Tim’s death.

“They tried to illicit a confession out of me and trying to make me a scapegoat for the investigation.

“I became ground down and confused and dehydrated. After a while I was confused as to what had or hadn’t taken place and I was being led by them.

“I started to see things that hadn’t happened and was starting to confess the confession they wanted.”

Mr Walters had last seen the father-of-two on the Friday evening before his murder and before he headed out to a friend’s house for a party in the evening.

He said he had appeared ‘jolly’ and ‘jovial’ and showed no signs of being in any trouble.

He said: “He was very upbeat, he was very happy and very friendly.”

Mr Jarman was last seen alive by friends after leaving a pub for expatriates in the capital that Friday.

They became increasingly worried after he did not call them the next day after arranging to go on a fishing trip with them.

When no one had heard by him by Sunday, they climbed through his window, via the balcony of a neighbour who said she had not heard anything from Mr Jarman’s apartment all weekend, and found his body.

It was initially thought that he had had a heart attack, but a single bullet wound was later found in the side of his head, with the gun thought to have been fired from a distance.

However coroner Maria Viosin recorded an open verdict into his death after ruling that there was not enough evidence to record one of unlawful killing.

She said to his family: “I appreciate that you may find that to be a little unsatisfactory but I’m sure you can appreciate that there is simply not enough evidence.”

She also apologised for the length of time it had taken to hold the inquest.

She said: “This has obviously been a long and complex case and I would like to apologise for that.

“I wanted to make sure this reached a speedy conclusion and I am pleased it has been resolved today.

“Again, I extend my apologies that it has taken this long.”

Speaking before the inquest, Mr Jarman’s late wife Sally, 58, had told the BBC: “I regret deeply that a man of 50 was literally struck down in his prime and didn’t live to see his children's achievements.”

She added: “At first the Foreign Office thought he had had a heart attack but then I had a call to say he had been shot.

“The first line of inquiry by Mongolian police was that he'd had an affair - a crime of passion - but this was quickly refuted by friends and family.

“I think the police were floundering. They have a very poorly funded but well-educated police force. Dealing with the murder of a foreigner is a very unusual thing there and really left them out of their depth.

"I don't like this modern word closure because we will never close this subject.

“Yes we will never find the perpetrator - I'm not saying I forgive who did it, but I think you get to the point where you shrug your shoulders.”

She declined to comment after the inquest.



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