A 25-year mystery involving a convicted axe attacker from Reading who went on the run after being accused of bludgeoning his former partner was solved recently (Tuesday, September 10).

Everett Watson had disappeared after the attack and detectives considered him especially dangerous, as he had been jailed for eight years in 1988 for using an axe to wound members of a church congregation as they left a Sunday service in Reading.

It was found on Tuesday that Watson is in fact already dead.

The victim of his alleged attack said: "I still get nightmares, I wake up screaming, thinking he is still there, laying into me.

"I still think he is out there watching me, waiting for an opportunity to come and get me."

Her lifetime of fear was put to an end yesterday when it was established that for the quarter of a century police spent hunting Watson, he was dead.

Berkshire Coroner, Heidi Connor, said: "In this rather unique case, I can now confirm that Everett Watson has died."

An unidentified body which was found in the River Thames and buried without any name in 1995 was Everett Watson, Mrs Connor said - he had died within a year after going missing in circumstances unknown.

It was revealed that DNA examination of samples taken from the body's teeth, legs and feet confirmed with a probability of one-billion-to-one that the body was Watson and he had died aged 53 years, the coroner concluded.

When Watson was jailed in 1988, a judge heard he had carried out a ferocious axe attack on church-goers after he had been also been jilted by his then wife.

He had embedded an axe in one male worshiper's head and used a machete to cut a woman's hands.

Watson was released after serving four years of his eight year sentence.

A manhunt was launched for him on December 5 1993, when Watson, then 52, carried out what was described as a "frenzied attack" on his former partner after she jilted him, in which he pulverised her with an iron bar and then padlocked her inside his caravan home in Mereoak caravan park in Mereoak Lane, Three Mile Cross, where she was discovered by police.

Watson had taken her Lada Riva car and gone on the run while under suspicion of attempted murder and he had been hunted by Thames Valley Police ever since, the inquest into his death heard on Tuesday.

The woman had suffered severe head injuries and spent several weeks fighting for her life in the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

She was under police guard as it was feared her attacker may have returned.

Just over a year after Watson went missing, Mrs Connor said, an unidentified body was discovered in the River Thames in Sonning Lock on January 2, 1995 and a coroner had investigated the death, although the body had been in the river for some time and could not be identified.

The body was buried without its identity ever being know, Mrs Connor said.

Meanwhile, the hunt for Watson had continued and police launched a fresh appeal in 2003 when the Lada Riva car he had used to escape was discovered in the River Thames under the Reading Bridge in the centre of Reading - six miles upstream from the unidentified body had been found almost a decade before.

Detective constable Jacqui Redgard, giving live evidence at the inquest, told the coroner how she put the pieces of the jigsaw together after she was given the Watson case in January 2018.

Det. Con. Redgard said: "When somebody is wanted, they remain wanted for the duration until they are found. We have a police national computer, Mr Watson was live as a wanted person.

"I was informed it was likely that he had gone into hiding, perhaps because of the trouble he was in.

"The alleged offence we are talking about is in relation to a former partner, who alleges he assaulted her causing very serious injuries.

"The partner turned up at his address, when she parked her car, Mr Watson asked for the keys and moved the vehicle to a different place.

"Then she was assaulted when she was locked into the caravan. Police found her when they unlocked the padlocked caravan and found her car was missing."

In conversations with Watson's family, det. con. Redgard established none of them had heard from him since the night of the iron bar attack and he had not accessed his bank accounts or registered for a passport anywhere in the UK.

Police had been carrying out inquiries in Barbados, where Watson was originally from, since he had gone missing and his family confirmed he had still not been sighted there.

Det. con. Redgard was made aware of the body which had been found in 1995 and she discovered a "red herring" which pointed to its identity.

She told the coroner: "He [the body] was deemed a white male, which was a complete red herring.

"The body had been in the river for so long the skin had bleached. Black skin is only surface deep. Once you get past that, you cannot tell what colour the body would be.

"He also had a sizeable gap in his teeth. Having spoken to his estranged wife, she told me Mr Watson had this gap. There were no dental records to be found, but I had this information.

"It just seemed a little bit too much of a coincidence and the vehicle being so close, only six miles away."

The detective's instinct was proven correct when the unidentified body was dug up, with DNA samples being cross-examined against DNA from Watson's estranged wife, his two daughters, and his sister Glendene Boyce, with the conclusion that the body was Watson's with a probability of one-billion-to-one.

A Home Office pathologist re-examining Watson's body had concluded that it was not possible to rule out third party involvement in his death and said the cause of death must remain unascertained.