Saturday, 12 May 2012

How many slit wrist deaths had Dr Hunt seen (continued)

(Note: I had trouble with using blogger in my last post.  Hopefully that was a one off glitch.  This post then should be read as a continuation of the last one)

In my previous post I had wondered if Dr Hunt had had previous experience of examining a wrist slashing that led to death.  He never said so and as wrist slashing is almost never fatal I strongly suspect that he hasn't ever examined one.  I also linked to quotations in a judgement on an appeal relating to the conviction for murder of Sally Clark.

Just to be clear: the judgement at the Court of Appeal leading to Sally's convictions being quashed was made on 29 January 2003.  The date of 11 April was the date of the full judgement of the court.

It's interesting to read the judgement relating to the actions of the pathologist.  The fact that the judgement was just months before Dr Kelly's death should have been something of a "wake up call" to pathologists: the Sally Clark case was very high profile and I would be amazed if Dr Hunt wasn't conversant with the outcome of this judgement and how the conclusions impinged on the work of pathologists.

I think that by coming to such a rapid conclusion over Dr Kelly's death Dr Hunt was being reckless.  Bearing in mind the Sally Clark judgement I would make the following points:
  • This seems to have been the first death of this nature investigated by Dr Hunt, an exceedingly rare form of death
  • Dr Hunt should have been well aware that co-proxamol poisoning might have been a contributor to the death.  He should have waited  the relatively short time Dr Allan needed to carry out the toxicological tests and looked at both wrist cutting and possible tablet ingestion together.
  • Having noted the scar on the right elbow Dr Hunt failed to investigate further it seems as to whether there was any resultant weakness in the right handDid he speak to the family or Dr Warner about the scar?  Did he look at Dr Kelly's medical notes?  There is no evidence that he did any of these things.
  • Dr Hunt considers certain matters ... which he then speculates point towards an act of self-harm.  This is what they are: speculation.
  • Dr Hunt one would have thought would be aware that Dr Kelly was a very intelligent man.  He should have reflected on the fact that it would be very odd for such a person to select a difficult and unreliable method of killing himself.
  • That a perfectly literate person like Dr Kelly hadn't left a suicide note should have concerned him.
  • Dr Hunt might have felt that it looked as if Dr Kelly had committed suicide but there is no indication that he thought of the possibility that a murder had been committed with the scene then made to look like suicide.
These are not the only criticisms to be made of Dr Hunt, they are some indicators though of the way he rushed to a conclusion without taking the more cautious approach the Sally Clark judgement indicates should have been taken.

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