RON Smith – the Leeds father made famous by his relentless battle to prove that his daughter was murdered in Saudi Arabia – has died aged 83, taking his one-man battle to the grave.
For three decades ex-policeman Mr Smith, who had lived alone in an apartment at West Park, refused to bury 23-year-old nurse Helen, leaving her body at the morgue at Leeds General Hospital.
Her corpse earned a macabre place in the record books as being the longest period of time a body had been kept without burial or cremation in Britain.
While Smith accepted she had died at an illegal drinks party in the Muslim city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 20 1979, he was adamant that she had been pushed from a balcony.
He dedicated the rest of his life to proving this, making legal history by getting an inquest held in the UK, even though Helen had died abroad.
A 15-day inquest at Leeds Town Hall in 1982 recorded an open verdict.
Smith never got the public inquiry he wanted for what he insisted had been a national cover up.
It was in 2009 the grieving father finally bowed to pressure having received a letter from his ex-wife Jeryl, who has since remarried and is living in an affluent retirement community on the east coast of America.
He ‘reluctantly’ allowed Helen’s burial on November 9 that year under the watchful eye of the nation’s media.
Ron said at the time: “My ex-wife has suggested that a funeral service would take place and I have reluctantly agreed with her, because of
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the children and my grand children.”
He never accepted that Helen had plunged 60ft from a sixth floor balcony.
He was disgusted at the suggestion that she might have had sex that night with a Dutch tugboat captain whose body was found close to hers, impaled on a spiked fence.
His modest flat in Leeds became the nerve centre of the continuing fact-finding operation right until the end.
The living room had been converted into a study where he kept the all consuming 62-page dossier that summarised his life’s work and the “evidence”.
In his last living interview given to the Yorkshire Evening Post several days before his daughter’s funeral, he told how he had been spending more time in hospital on kidney dialysis than anywhere else.
Along with the oedema – swellings and aches – he said he was tired and struggling to concentrate.
Mr Smith died yesterday at St James’s Hospital. He leaves children Graham and Beverley, who live in America, and David in Wakefield.
He will be buried at Wakefield Crematorium on Tuesday April 26 at 1pm.
Members of the public are asked not to send flowers but are invited to make donations to St Gemma’s Hospice.