Saturday, 16 June 2012

Other signs of injuries/marks on the body

Following on from the injuries to the left wrist described in Dr Hunt's report and the subject of my last post there is a section starting at the bottom of page 6 headed "Other signs of injury/marks upon the body."  Again I'll leave the reader to make his or her way through it

Briefly it covers three minor areas of abrasion on the left side of the head, one minor lesion in the left lower limb and three lesions in the right lower limb.  There was also an area of reddish discolouration on the upper part of the left calf/shin.

The fact that he noted these particular features and recorded them is fine but his conclusion about the presence of the abrasions in particular takes some believing.  These are conclusions 17 and 18 in his report:

17. The minor abrasions over the head are entirely consistent with scraping against rough undergrowth such as the small twigs, branches and stones which were present at the scene.
18. The minor reddened lesions on the lower limbs are typical of areas of minor hair follicle irritation.

This is what he said in response to questioning from Mr Knox at the Inquiry:

Q. Did you see any other signs of injury or marks on the body?
A. I did. Over the left side of his head there were three minor abrasions or grazes to his scalp, and of course that part of his head was relatively close to undergrowth.  In addition to that --
LORD HUTTON: Were those abrasions consistent with having been in contact with the undergrowth?  

A. They were entirely, my Lord; particularly branches, pebbles and the like. There was no bruising deep to those, I should add, at this stage.  
MR KNOX: Were there any other injuries or bruises? 
 A. Yes. Those were only revealed during the dissection part of the examination. There was a bruise below the left knee. There were two bruises below the right knee over the shin and there were two bruises over the left side of his chest. All of these were small and affected  the skin but not the deeper tissues.  
Q. Would you be able to say how those bruises or injuries could have occurred?  
A. They would have occurred following a blunt impact against any firm object and it would not have to be a particularly heavy impact. They may be caused -- some of them may have been caused as Dr Kelly was stumbling, if you like, at the scene. They may have been caused well before he got to the woods. It is not possible to age them so precisely. 
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MR KNOX: If you move on to conclusion 18. 
A. Certainly. The minor reddened lesions on the lower limbs are typical of areas of minor hair follicle irritation or skin irritation, so they were not injuries in particular. They were not puncture wounds.  (My emphasis)

Dr Hunt seems to me to have turned his speculation about Dr Kelly stumbling around at the scene and banging his head almost into fact.  Other commentators have made the point that it would be unlikely that Dr Kelly who was an experienced walker and knew the area well would be having such collisions.  Was Dr Hunt in a position where he had to come up with some explanation, no matter how implausible or was there some other (hidden) reason for the abrasions and bruising.

If he was sure that the lesions weren't puncture wounds it's perhaps a little strange he didn't clarify this point in his report also.   

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