A FORMER SAS soldier and bodyguard to the Onassis family, who took part in the hunt for the missing racehorse Shergar, has been killed in a road accident on Easter Monday.

David Lee, 61, led an extraordinary life mixing with stars across the globe, but enjoyed nothing better than riding his motorbike through the Herefordshire countryside.

It was on just such a ride that he died when his blue Kawasaki ZX 900 was in a collision with a car outside the Portway Inn on the A438 near Staunton-on-Wye at 9.20am. The car driver, a 30-year-old woman, had facial injuries.

Mr Lee's widow Miranda, said: "He was an ageing gunslinger, a happy grease monkey, who died doing what he loved best - being a born again biker."

As bodyguard to Christina Onassis and her husband Thierry Roussel, Mr Lee spent 11 years shepherding the couple and their daughter Athina around the world.

From Sweden to Argentina, he watched over their every move, including the meetings with Christina's stepmother Jackie Onassis, who married the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis after the assassination of her first husband John F. Kennedy.

Mr Lee settled in the county when he and Miranda bought a farm at Michaelchurch Escley in 1988.

However, an ambitious underground bunker project saw the couple make the short move through the shadows of the Black Mountains to a subterranean home at Lower Maes-coed.

In deepest Herefordshire, the pair farmed South American llamas on the roof of their sunken home before moving to Painscastle.

From the Welsh borders, the connections with the county remained strong and when Mr Lee was not out chasing salmon poachers on the banks of the Wye at Symonds Yat, he would join celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright on the Radnor and West Hereford Hunt.

Miranda said: "He was a jack-of-all-trades, there was nothing he could not do."

Mr Lee, who was also known as 'Compo' and 'Dead Owl', was born in Chesterfield and began life in the Royal Engineers before being accepted into the SAS.

After leaving the Hereford-based regiment in 1976, Mr Lee began security work for the Sultan of Oman, trained Sri Lanka's police force, guarded EU delegates in Uganda and led an unsuccessful search for the racehorse Shergar.

With this wealth of experience coupled with his expertise in Arabic, Mr Lee then travelled the world guarding the Onassis family.

But as much as most people would love to live it up with the rich and famous in sunny Monaco, Miranda says her husband preferred to play darts with his friends down the local.

"I know he had a jet set lifestyle and drank champagne with Mick Jagger and Nick Nolte, but he would rather be down the Baskerville Arms at Clyro or the Boat Inn at Whitney-on-Wye," she explained.

"He was unassuming and would never brag about what he did or what he was up to."

"That is how he was and how he should be remembered - as someone who was with JFK's widow one day, and on a digger in the Black Mountains getting dirty the next," she added.

Mr Lee's step-daughter Alice Mitchell said the man she had known for 20 years was 'amazing' and possessed an 'indescribable personality'.