Developer to face trial for murder of Bratton solicitor in June

Victim Jim Ward

Accused Michael Chudley

First published in Westbury by

The trial of former Rowde property developer Michael Chudley, charged with the murder of Bratton solicitor Jim Ward, is set to go ahead at Salisbury Crown Court for two weeks starting in June.

Chudley, 63, has pleaded not guilty to four charges: the murder of Mr Ward, possession of a sawn-off shotgun with intent to commit murder, possession of a firearm with intent to provoke fear of violence, and threats to kill.

He appeared briefly at Winchester Crown Court on Monday for a case management hearing when it was confirmed that his trial would begin on June 4 and last for around two weeks.

The alleged offences date from July 2 last year when Mr Ward, 58, who lived in Bratton, near Westbury, with his wife, Nicky, and their three children, wsa shot in his office at MGW Law in St John’s Street, Devizes.

He was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol where he died nearly three weeks later without regaining consciousness.

His funeral, on August 10, filled St John’s Church and was attended by his many friends, colleagues, clients and family members.

A collection was taken for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the general intensive care unit at Frenchay Hospital.

Mr Ward was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, where he spent his childhood. He took a first degree in physics and maths at Sussex University and worked for some years as a physicist.

But his strong social conscience would not let him stay in science and he took a second degree in law at what is now the University of the West of England, so he could help people with legal problems.

On the course he met his future wife, Nicky Morris, and close friend Francis Goddard, who is now a judge. The trio went into practice together and opened Morris Goddard and Ward, now MGW Law, in 1988. They lived in Bratton.

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