Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Did Dr Kelly repeatedly dislodge blood clots?

This is conclusion 9 in the report of forensic pathologist Dr Hunt:

Many of the injuries over the left wrist show evidence of a well-developed vital reaction suggesting that they have been inflicted over a reasonable period of time (minutes rather than seconds or hours) before death.

At the Inquiry Hutton asks about the meaning of a "vital reaction":

Many of the injuries over the left wrist show evidence of a well developed vital reaction which suggests that they had been inflicted over a reasonable period of time, minutes, though, rather than seconds or many hours before death.
LORD HUTTON: What do you mean by a "vital reaction"?
A. A vital reaction, my Lord, is the body's response to an area of damage. It manifests itself chiefly in the form of reddening and swelling around the area. 

I'm no expert on the subject of "vital reaction" but would just mention that it would I'm sure take quite some time to cut through the well buried ulnar artery using an old blunt knife especially by someone getting on in years who seemingly had a weak right arm; the last point will be discussed in detail in another post.  In view of what is to follow Dr Hunt doesn't make any reference in his report, or at the Hutton Inquiry, to Dr Kelly repeatedly having to dislodge blood clots or scabs to keep the blood flowing.  
On 22 August 2010 there was an article (behind the paywall) in the Sunday Times by Dr Hunt.  It looked as if its primary aim was to refocus on the amount of blood that Dr Hunt says he saw, all the more important then because just two weeks earlier DC Coe had been telling the world via the Mail on Sunday that there was hardly any blood around. There was a report the following day in the Mail summarising some of the points just made by Dr Hunt.

Following the report it can be seen that there are a number of "doubts" and "rebuttals" displayed.  There appears to be some paraphrasing, unfortunately we aren't necessarily seeing the exact questions and responses throughout.  Therefore the content isn't quite so good as it might be.  This is one of the doubts and its rebuttal:

'The ulnar artery slashed in Dr Kelly's left wrist was too small to have caused him to bleed to death'.  Critics added that the wound would have clotted, meaning any bleeding would have stopped long before death could occur.

Dr Hunt says he found up to a dozen cuts on Dr Kelly's wrist, each around 2in to 3in long, one of which opened the ulnar artery.  'Some cuts were very shallow, some were deeper and deeper, which is typical of someone feeling their way.  You have a knife, apply light pressure and realise that it actually takes a bit more effort and you get more bold as your resolve increases.  It's one of the classic features of self-inflicted injury.'  He adds that there was clear evidence Dr Kelly repeatedly dislodged clots or scabs to ensure he continued bleeding.  'His wrist was red so he must have been doing this for some time.'
(My emphasis added)

In his report and at the Hutton Inquiry Dr Hunt makes no mention of dislodging clots or scabs and gives an alternative reason for the reddening of the wrist area.  

From the word go the lack of blood has caused huge unresolved problems for the hypothesis that the primary cause of death was haemorrhage.  In the summer of 2010, seven years after the event, there is something akin to panic, over the sufficiency of blood loss question.  I think that this is why Dr Hunt was wheeled out to try once and for all to put the blood problem to rest.  Significantly, on that very same day (22 August) Tom Mangold writes a piece in the Independent on Sunday to finally deal with the motive for suicide.  

The lack of blood at the scene and inability to show intent to commit suicide were surely two of the biggest headaches for the authorities to resolve at that time.

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