Saturday, 30 June 2012

The mobile phone was switched off

ACC Page is asked at the Inquiry about whether the mobile phone was switched on or off when it was discovered in the pocket of the Barbour jacket.  His reply:

My recollection is that when found it was off.

The first of the five people who tried to ring Dr Kelly was John Clark.  He is clear that he had an electronic response that was proof of the phone being turned off.  Similarly the last of the five, Olivia Bosch also got an electronic response but the detail is hazy as to the nature of this message.  James Harrison and Bryan Wells it seems each rang with no response as if perhaps the phone was on but not being answered; their attempts to call Dr Kelly were only ten minutes apart.  Rachel Kelly simply says 'I could not reach him on his mobile phone'  

Are these variations in response indicative of some quirk with mobile phones ... that sometimes the electronic response cuts in quickly and on other occasions you have to wait for a considerable number of rings.  In the latter circumstance the caller might ring off too early.  I don't know enough about this subject to know whether this can happen but otherwise it appears possible that the phone was turned off, then turned on by Dr Kelly (or a third party) but with incoming calls ignored and finally turned off. 

Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 from Annex TVP-5 supply a little more illumination: 

2. At a meeting held at 5.00am on Thursday 17th July 2003 cell site data was ordered on the mobile telephone of Dr Kelly in an attempt to pin point its location.  Unfortunately the phone was switched off so cell site data could not be retrieved.  Following the discovery of Dr Kelly's body his mobile phone was found, turned off, in his coat pocket.

3. At that time cell site techniques were not as advanced as they are now and technicians were unable to trace when the mobile last accessed the network (or where) as there had not been live cell site tracing on the phone at the time. 

4. Technicians were able to say that mobile communications were operating correctly in the Longworth area on the 17th and 18th July although one sector was showing slight congestion on the afternoon of the 18th. 

The date quoted in paragraph 2 is meant to be "Friday 18th July" I imagine.  Perhaps the "congestion" mentioned in paragraph 4 resulted from intense media use of the airwaves that afternoon.

Normally Dr Kelly was well known as a person always contactable because he kept his mobile phone on.  Therefore goes one argument he set off to commit suicide by keeping his phone off so that he couldn't be contacted or his location known.  My counter argument to this is why take his phone at all.  We know that the phone wouldn't have already been in the jacket because the last outgoing call was at 12.58 that day, a time according to Mrs Kelly's testimony when he was at their home.

Perhaps Dr Kelly took his phone as he normally would on his walks but decided to leave it turned off.  From his perspective he might have thought that his last conversation with John Clark shortly before 3 o'clock had finally wrapped up all the points he had had to deal with and that he needed a walk uninterrupted by telephone calls to try and wind down from what had been a tumultuous and stressful week.  Speculation on my part?  Certainly.  I don't think it's possible to come to any definitive explanation as to why, unusually, the mobile phone was switched off.

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