Cult riddle of student's death

Forensic probe casts more doubt on the suicide verdict of young Briton in Germany

The Observer, UK/September 17, 2006
By Mark Townsend

Dramatic new evidence has cast doubt on the official account of the mysterious death of a British student who had become involved with a right-wing political cult in Germany.

A detailed investigation by a former Scotland Yard forensic expert into the death of Jeremiah Duggan, obtained by The Observer, contradicts the verdict by German authorities that the 22-year-old committed suicide by leaping in front of cars on a dual carriageway in Wiesbaden, on the Rhine in west Germany.

Instead the 59-page report by Paul Canning, an experienced Metropolitan Police forensic photographer, suggests Duggan may have been killed elsewhere and 'placed' at the scene to make it look like a traffic accident.

Based on forensic analysis of 79 photographs taken by German investigators, Canning, whose investigation was carried out at the Duggan family's request, made a number of findings at odds with the official explanation of Jerry's death. The report has reignited his family's claims that the true circumstances surrounding their son's death have been covered up.

Canning, who attended hundreds of crime scenes and fatal traffic accidents while with the Metropolitan Police, concludes: 'I do not believe that the images depict how Jerry came to meet his premature death. It is possible that Jerry lost his life elsewhere, prior to being placed at this scene.'

In the days before his death, the gifted student from Golders Green, north-west London, had become involved with the Wiesbaden-based followers of Lyndon LaRouche, an American millionaire with virulent anti-Semitic views. An internal Scotland Yard report describes the German group as possessing 'sinister [and] dangerous connections'.

Unaware of the group's anti-semitic leanings, the former pupil of Christ's Hospital school told followers that he was Jewish. At 4.20am on 27 March 2003 Duggan rang his mother and told her he was 'under too much pressure'. Minutes later he rang back, his voice hushed and nervous. 'Mum, I am in deep trouble,' he said.

Asked where he was, Duggan began spelling out Wiesbaden. Before he could reach 'b' the phone went dead. Three hours later police were called to investigate reports of a body on the B455 outside Wiesbaden. The authorities quickly pronounced Duggan's death as a 'clear case' of suicide. It is a verdict which Canning believes must now be questioned.

His analysis of images taken by German accident investigator Herr Burg minutes after the alleged suicide bid found no evidence of skin, blood, hair or clothing on the two cars said to have struck the student. It is the first case Canning has come across in which a vehicle has struck a person at speed without there being a trace of blood.

'Nor can I see any blood, tissue or clothing debris on the road... nor are there any tyre marks or signs, either that on Duggan or on the cars, to indicate that either vehicle has made contact with Duggan,' reads the report. Canning describes the lack of blood or human remains on the vehicles as simply 'inconceivable'.

The official version of events suggest that Duggan 'ran against' a Peugeot and was subsequently run over by a Golf. Canning, inexplicably, could find no trace of blood in the tyre threads of the Golf.

Concerns also surround claims by German investigators that a deep dent on the front right hand door of the Peugeot marked the spot where Duggan struck the vehicle. Canning believes such an indentation is unlikely to have been made by a human.

He said: 'In my opinion, this dent is more likely to have been caused by contact from a heavy instrument, or even another vehicle. I do not believe that the damage to either vehicle was caused by the impact of Jerry's body.' Inexplicably, both cars were moved before Berg photographed the scene.

Duggan's mother Erica hopes Canning's findings will help secure a fresh inquest into her son's death. Criticising the lack of evidence provided by the German authorities, a British coroner decided that Duggan had 'been in a state of terror' moments before his death. In a highly unusual verdict, he concluded he could not say that Duggan had commited suicide.

Key dates in an unfolding mystery

21-23 March 2003 Jeremiah Duggan travels to Wiesbaden, Germany, to attend what he believes is an anti-war conference held by a group that is funded by Lyndon LaRouche.

27 March 2003
Duggan's body is found on B455 carriageway. Hours earlier the student had told his mother that he was in 'deep trouble'.

29 March 2003
German police announce that Duggan committed suicide.

4 November 2003
North London coroner refuses to accept Duggan took his own life, concluding he died in a 'state of terror'.

24 February 2004
Duggan family meet Foreign Office officials.

8 April 2005
Prosecutors in Wiesbaden reject fresh investigation.

November 2005
Duggan's mother persuades the German authorities to hand over photographs made by investigators. Former Scotland Yard expert begins analysing evidence

22 February 2006
Family calls for a fresh inquest.

Sept 2006
New facts emerge.

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