Paraglider murdered during trek across Mongolia told his wife he would be safer there than in Manchester, inquest told
An expert paraglider with an ‘adventurous spirit’ who was murdered as he trekked across Mongolia told his wife before he left he would be safer there than in Manchester, an inquest heard.
Award-winning Steve Nash, 53, from Cheshire, had planned to travel 350km in 10 days across the Khangai Nuruu mountain range with a friend, Gareth Aston, in August, 2016.
The inquest heard he continued alone after Mr Aston sustained a hip injury halfway through the journey.
The day after they separated, Mr Nash’s body was found in a valley.
He had been stabbed to death, the inquest at Parr Hall in Warrington heard on Wednesday.
Senior coroner for Cheshire, Alan Moore, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing after hearing a man was convicted of Mr Nash’s murder in Mongolia.
In a statement his widow Shirley, 60, said Mr Nash, a chartered engineer from Helsby in Cheshire, saw the trip to Mongolia as ‘unfinished business’ after bad weather thwarted his attempt to trek across the remote East Asian region in 2006.
She said before he left, she asked him if he would be safe and he replied: “Mongolia has the nicest, friendliest and kindest people.
“I’m probably safer there than in Manchester.”
Get the latest updates from across Greater Manchester direct to your inbox with the free MEN newsletter
You can sign up very simply by following the instructions here
Mrs Nash, a teaching assistant, revealed he proposed to her before they did a bungee jump together.
Paying tribute to her husband at the inquest, she said: “Anyone can get married and have a husband or a wife but not everyone has a soul mate, 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, the inquest was told.
He went on to appeal against the conviction, but it was upheld and two years were added to his sentence.
Giving evidence, Mr Nash’s friend Mr Aston said the night before he left him, 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 set 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 grew concerned the next day because Mr Nash’s GPS tracker had not moved far. He was then contacted by police, the inquest heard.
Sergeant Justin Jones, from Cheshire Police, said Mr Nash’s body was found by locals under a hunting cover in Khuut on the Khandargat Pass.
The officer told the court there was evidence the defendant had returned home, on a horse, at about 3pm on August 31, 2016, and so Mr Nash’s death likely occurred between 11am and 3pm that day.
The inquest heard a post-mortem examination showed Mr Nash sustained two stab wounds. One penetrated the aorta, the main artery from the heart.
Concluding the inquest, Coroner 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.
“Clearly he is very much missed.”
Solicitor Shane Smith, of law firm Slater and Gordon, which 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.”