Friday, 15 June 2012

Vomitus on the body and on the ground (2)

Concerns had been voiced that the vomit found at the scene hadn't been tested.  The Attorney general has called in two forensic specialists to consider the work of Dr Allan and Dr Hunt and these are their comments on this particular point:

Professor Flanagan
It is of no significance that that a sample of the vomit was not collected for analysis.  By definition drug in vomitus outside the body is not available for systemic effect, and in this instance blood, urine, vitreous humour, and stomach contents were all available for analysis.

Dr Shepherd
e) Lack of sampling of the vomit

The fact that David Kelly has taken a large number of Coproxamol tablets is confirmed by toxicological analysis.  Examination of the scene shows that, at some point after he had started to bleed from the injuries to his left wrist, he vomited at least twice.

The scene examination indicates that both of these areas of vomiting appear to lie to the side of his left shoulder and head.

The blood staining of the right knee of his jeans would be consistent with him turning to his left hand side and kneeling to vomit at these sites.

In my opinion the sampling of the vomit at the scene may have provided some confirmation of the component drugs within the vomit but it would not have assisted in quantifying the number of tablets taken and so would have been of no advantage.

My thoughts
  1. I don't know what would normally happen about sampling vomit in these sort of circumstances and really can't sensibly comment on this.
  2. Shepherd makes the same assumption as others ... that David Kelly took a large number of coproxamol tablets.  Yet there is no proof of this.  The two components of coproxamol were found in the body but they are both injectable or the tablets could have been crushed and fed into the body by a gastric tubeWe don't know.
  3. I imagine that Shepherd is saying that the vomiting occurred after the bleeding started on the basis of his assumption that Dr Kelly knelt in his own blood.  Another possibility would be if vomit was found on top of blood but I don't think that had been reported.
  4. One would really need to see photographs of any pools of blood to the body's left to be able to assess whether their positioning and the siting of the vomit ties in with a kneeling position.
  5. It must be remembered that the bloodstain on the right knee of the jeans as seen and measured by Mr Green is about ten times larger than that viewed by the ambulance team.
  6. Did Shepherd assume that Dr Kelly knelt in his blood to vomit in order to explain away the blood on the right knee?  At least some of the vomiting may have happened with Dr Kelly's head slumping on to the top of his left arm.
  7. The observed position of the vomitus in relation to the body leaning against the tree is wrong.  It's possible then that the body was repositioned in almost the same position as it was before being propped against the tree. 


  1. You think you know the detail and then along comes an observation that you either hadn't seen or remembered. Looking at Dr Hunt's exhibit list in his report I have just noticed NCH/33 and NCH/34 which are swabs of the vomit on the RHS and LHS of the face. These were among the exhibits handed to DC Boshell at the mortuary.

    It would seem then that this vomit was swabbed but no further action was taken with it.

    1. brian - see AGO schedule of responses no 32 where the failure to test NCH33/34 was mentioned.
      "Neither Professor Flanagan nor Dr Shepherd see any significance in this and the fact that these additional tests were not carried out does not undermine the thoroughness of the forensic examination." (ho ho)

      Flanagan is quite wrong in saying or preteding that no samples were taken. Shepherd's response seems to be concerned with vomit on the surrounds which were not sampled. If it indeed was vomit, or some other preparation which had the property of being simultaneously white and darkish.

  2. Felix - I'm assuming that Flanagan overlooked NCH33/34 in the list of exhibits. He's paid not to overlook things of course! I wonder who made the decision not to test NCH33/34, the swabs having been taken at the mortuary. Did TVP contact the laboratory to see what they wanted?

    I would have thought that sampling the vomit on the ground at Harrowdown Hill would have been carried out. But maybe not. Perhaps what appeared to be vomit wouldn't be routinely sampled. But they have only one chance with this and it would surely be a quick easy process to scoop up some of the vomit on the ground.

    Presumably it would be the toxicologist (Dr Allan) who would test it if anyone.