Sunday, 27 May 2012

The knife at Harrowdown Hill

A knife was found at Harrowdown Hill to the left of the body.  The purpose of this post is to record the descriptions of the knife through the eyes of the witnesses.  

Although apparently close to the body the knife isn't mentioned by either of the civilian searchers at the Hutton Inquiry or in that part of their police statements that have been disclosed.  Neither the counsel to the Inquiry nor Lord Hutton ask Louise Holmes or Paul Chapman about the knife.  The searchers aren't asked about any of the other objects near the body nor do they volunteer information about them, suggesting that they were added after the searchers left the scene.  As will be discussed later the evidence is of the body being moved as well as each arm relative to the body.  Therefore the possibility of the various artifacts being added by a third party can't be ruled out.

This is DC Coe at the Hutton Inquiry:

Q. Did you notice anything about the body? 
A. I did.
Q. What did you notice?
A. I noticed that there was blood round the left wrist.  I saw a knife, like a pruning knife, and a watch. 

DC Coe police witness statement (from Annex TVP 1)
I could see that his left wrist had blood on it.  Close to the wrist was a small knife like a pruning knife together with a wrist watch.

PC Franklin at the Hutton Inquiry
Q. And what did the knife look like?
A. The blade was open. It was some sort of lock knife. I cannot be that precise. I believe it had a curved -- slight curve to the blade. The blade was maybe 3 to 4 inches long.
Q. Was there anything on the blade?
A. Blood.

PC Franklin police witness statement (from Annex TVP 3)
... the deceased had an apparent cut to his left arm, his wristwatch and a knife were lying close to the left arm ...

PC Sawyer at the Hutton Inquiry
There was a large amount of blood on the back of the left arm. There was a watch and a curved knife by that wrist.
Q. And you say a curved knife. Was it open? Was it a penknife?
A. It was open. I have seen gardening pruning knives which look identical. I would have called it a pruning knife.

The published extract of PC Sawyer's witness statement is very short and doesn't include any reference to the knife.
Paramedic Vanessa Hunt at the Hutton Inquiry
Q. Right. And did you see anything on the ground? 
A. There was a silver bladed knife, a wristwatch, which was off of the wrist.
Q. Yes.
A. And, oh, a water bottle, a small water bottle stood up to the left side of Dr Kelly's head.

The published extract of Vanessa Hunts witness statement in Annex TVP 3 just deals with the body position.

Ambulance Technician Dave Bartlett at the Hutton Inquiry
Q. What type of a knife was it? 
A. I think it was one of those silver quite flat ones with like a curved blade, more like a pruning knife. 

Dave Bartlett police witness statement (Annex TVP 3)
On the ground next to the left arm I saw a watch and an open penknife and an empty water bottle.

Forensic Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt at the Hutton Inquiry
Q. What about next to the watch?
A. Lying next to that was a pruning knife or gardener's knife. 
Q. Can you describe what type of pruning knife it was?
A. The make was a Sandvig knife. It was one with a little hook or lip towards the tip of the blade. It is a fairly standard gardeners' type knife.

Dr Hunt in his report 
Lying near his left hand, on the grass, was a black resin-strapped wristwatch; presumably a digital watch, lying face down and showing some bloodstaining.

Lying adjacent to this was a white metal 'Sandvik' pruning type knife, or gardener's knife, with its blade extended from the handle.  There was bloodstaining over both the handles and the blade and a pool of blood beneath the knife which was approximately 8-10 by approximately 4-5 cms.

Forensic biologist Roy Green at the Hutton Inquiry
Q. What else did you see around the body?
A. There was a bloodstained watch and a knife to --
Q. Was the knife bloodstained?
A. Yes, it was, yes. 

Mr Green's written statement 
The "Sandvik" knife (AMH.5) was a stainless steel penknife.  The single blade, which was curved and measured 7.5 cm in length, was exposed.  The blade and the handle were heavily stained with blood especially on the right side.

So what information can we draw from this?  The basic description of the knife is consistent between the various witnesses at Harrowdown Hill which is hardly surprising.  What is noticeable is that neither the ambulance crew nor DC Coe mention blood on the knife, by the time Mr Green sees it both the blade and handle are heavily stained with blood.  Even more theatrically Dr Hunt describes a pool of blood beneath the knife.  I shall explain later the evidence of the knife (and watch) having been moved between the time the ambulance crew are at the scene and the examination of the scene by Dr Hunt and Mr Green.

Mr Green, not surprisingly, gives us the most accurate description of the knife.  I have just made a measurement to see how wide my wrist is: it is almost exactly 7.5 cm across ... the same as the length of the blade.  The fact that the blade was curved demonstrates to me that its shape was far from ideal for the purpose.  I would have thought a knife of the "Stanley" type with a straight blade would have been far better for making incisions.

Some more interesting aspects of the knife to come in my next posts.

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