Saturday, 9 June 2012

The blood: "arterial rain" - real or simulated (1)

Dr Hunt discovered that the ulnar artery in Dr Kelly's left wrist had been severed.  When an artery is cut the blood initially comes out in spurts at high pressure, not surprising when you consider that the heart is a pump.  Mr Green explains at the Inquiry that this high pressure spurting produces an effect known as "arterial rain".  These two extracts from Mr Green's testimony on 3rd September define arterial rain and state his observations of the same:

Q. Right. I think we have heard from an extract that Mr Page has read out to us that the ulnar artery was severed. Did you understand that to be the case at the time?
A. Obviously injuries are a pathologist's domain. However, the blood distribution was what I would expect to see if an artery had been severed. There was bloodstaining typical of that sort of injury.
Q. What do you expect to see in such circumstances?
A. Well, when veins are severed the blood comes out under a low pressure, but when arteries are severed it comes out on a much higher pressure and you get spurting of blood, you get a phenomenon known as arterial rain, where you have a great deal of smallish stains all of about the same size over the area.
Q. Did you find that arterial rain?
A. Yes.
Q. On what?
A. On the nettles -- there were nettles alongside the body of Dr Kelly.
Q. And did you look for the distribution of blood?
A. Yes.
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Q. Did you examine the vegetation around the body?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you form any conclusions from that examination?
A. Well, the blood staining that was highest from the ground was approximately 50 centimetres above the ground. This was above the position where Dr Kelly's left wrist was, but most of the stainings were 33 centimetres, which is approximately a foot above the ground. It was all fairly low level stuff.
Q. What does that mean?
A. It meant that because the injury -- most of the injuries would have taken place while Dr Kelly was sitting down or lying down.

In his witness statement Mr Green similarly defines arterial rain on page 6 

On page 9 he records what he saw with a little more detail than at the Inquiry and this I have highlighted:

In my opinion the deceased appears to have received his injuries where he was found.  Blood had spurted out from his injured left wrist to the left of the body, to a distance of approximately 78 cm.  The staining was typical of arterial bloodstaining with pooling closer to the injured limb.  The leaf litter nature of the ground meant that it would have been very absorbent to blood.  The highest stains were approximately 50 cm from the ground on a nettle above the left hand, but the majority of the staining was at a height of 33 cm or lower.  No large downward drips of blood were seen on the lower clothing of the deceased, there did not appear to be blood on the soles of the boots and there were no obvious areas of bloodstaining on the ground beneath the body.  This all tends to support the observation that Dr Kelly received his injuries where he was found.

If, like me, you prefer imperial units then 78 cm is just over 2'6".  The arterial rain spurting (onto the nettles) was specifically to the left of the body.  I have already discussed the leaf litter  and its context can be seen from the extract above.  Mr Green certainly sounds very authoritative but as related in an earlier post I do wonder how many instances of slit wrists he had seen 

That there was blood on some nettles was noticed by Vanessa Hunt from the ambulance team:

Q. One of the police officers or someone this morning said there appeared to be some blood on the ground. Did you see that? 
A. I could see some on -- there were some stinging nettles to the left of the body. As to on the ground, I do not remember seeing a sort of huge puddle or anything like that.  

A small point regarding the questioning of Mr Green by Mr Dingemans at the Inquiry: ACC Page did not read out an extract because he didn't have a copy of Dr Hunt's report with him.  Furthermore I don't see a specific reference to the ulnar artery, rather he talks of incisions to the wrist.

In the next post I shall look at the possibility that Mr Green's arterial rain was simulated. 

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