Mum lay dead in rubbish pile for 19 months before body was discovered


The skeletal remains of Julie Ann Watson, mother of three from Ballycregagh, Co. Antrim, were found under six feet of bin bags in the backyard of a derelict property in Belfast where they had lain for 19 months.

The body of Ms Watson was found curled up in the foetal position and was identified from DNA samples which were taken from the spine. However, her body was so badly decomposed that no cause of death could be found.

An elderly neighbour alerted Belfast City Council to the heap of rubbish in December 2010 and, in April of 2011, Ms Watson was found by construction workers near the blocked entrance. Former landlord Marc Doherty said the amount of bin bags and other articles dumped there could have filled two large industrial builder skips.

Coroner Jim Kitson called it a “desperately sad and tragic case”, telling the inquest, "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."

Pathologist, Dr Alistair Bentley, said there was evidence of trauma to her ribs and skull from earlier injuries but that these wounds had been healing at the time of death and the bone fractures were unrelated to how she died. "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," he added.

Julie Ann was last seen alive in August 2009 and had not been seen by her brother since 2006 following an argument. The mother of three struggled with alcohol addiction as well as poor mental health and had had her children taken away by social services. Friend of the diseased 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," reports.

Offering his sympathies to the family and friends of Julie Ann Watson, Mr Kits said that, tragically, Ms Watson’s death will remain undetermined due to advanced decomposition.