Paraglider killed in Mongolia felt safer there than in Manchester, inquest told

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A paraglider who was murdered while travelling across Mongolia had told his wife he would be safer there than in Manchester, an inquest has heard.

Steven Nash, 53, from Helsby in Cheshire, had planned to travel 350km in 10 days across the Khangai Nuruu mountain range with friend Gareth Aston in August 2016, an inquest at Parr Hall in Warrington heard on Wednesday.

The coroner’s court heard Mr Nash continued alone after Mr Aston sustained a hip injury about halfway through the journey, but the day after they separated his body was found in a valley by locals.

Senior coroner for Cheshire Alan Moore recorded a conclusion of unlawful killing after hearing a man had been convicted of Mr Nash’s murder in Mongolia.

In a statement, his widow Shirley, 60, said Mr Nash, an expert paraglider, had seen the trip to Mongolia as “unfinished business” after he attempted the trip across the remote region in 2006 but had to turn back due to adverse weather.

She said before he left, on August 19, she had asked the chartered electrical engineer if he would be safe and he replied: “Mongolia has the nicest, friendliest and kindest people.

“I’m probably safer there than in Manchester.”

The teaching assistant, who said Mr Nash proposed to her immediately before they did a bungee jump, said: “Anyone can get married and have a husband or a wife but not everyone has a soulmate, best friend and life together that fits perfectly like a thousand piece jigsaw.”

Gantulga Batsukh, 39, was convicted of Mr Nash’s murder in Mongolia and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2017.

Steve Nash (Family/Cheshire Police/PA)
Steve Nash (Family/Cheshire Police/PA)

Mr Aston said the night before he left Mr Nash they had used a satellite phone belonging to a group of nomads to arrange for him to be picked up the following day.

In the morning Mr Aston was picked up around 10am and Mr Nash began setting off about the same time, he said.

He told the court: “I think he was quite excited about getting on and finishing for both of us.”

Mr Aston said he became concerned the next day because Mr Nash’s GPS tracker had not moved far and he was then contacted by police.

Sergeant Justin Jones, from Cheshire Police, said Mr Nash’s body was found by locals under a hunting cover in Khuut in the Khandargat Pass.

He told the court there was evidence the defendant had returned home, on a horse, at about 3pm on August 31 and so Mr Nash’s death would have occurred between 11am and 3pm that day.

The court heard a post mortem showed Mr Nash sustained two stab wounds and one of those penetrated the aorta, the main artery from the heart.

Concluding the inquest, Mr Moore said: “From what I have heard today, Steve was dearly loved by his family and friends and very much admired by all those who had the pleasure to meet him.

“It is clear to me that he had an adventurous spirit, and that’s putting it mildly, and a real zest for life and clearly he is very much missed.

Shane Smith, of Slater and Gordon who represented the Nash family, said: “Losing a loved one is always tragic, but Steve’s family’s grief is made all the worse knowing that it was so needless.

“The evidence put before the coroner was extremely difficult for Steve’s family to hear, but they know it’s an important step in the process of understanding what happened.”

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