Friday, 13 July 2012

Mr Gardiner refers to other experts on 16 March

In his hearing on 16 March Mr Gardiner makes reference to other experts (apart from Dr Hunt):

Others, although I think not generally experienced Forensic Pathologists, have expressed doubts as to the views of Dr. Hunt and accepted by Lord Hutton.  It is certainly not exceptional for experts to disagree with each other.  It is probably exceptional if they do not.  This disagreement is far more likely to occur if some of them do not have full access to all the data, and I do not consider those disagreements to amount to exceptional reason, and in any event are as likely to arise out of an Inquest as out of a Public Inquiry. 

Gardiner is having to walk a tightrope here, he has to be careful to avoid total denigration of the opinions given by "The Doctors"Whilst he points out that the views of Dr Hunt were accepted by Lord Hutton he fails to note that the cause of death as described by Dr Hunt was also accepted by himself.  This is really important.  It seems as if Dr Hunt's final report of 25 July and conclusions therein were formally accepted as evidence when Mr Gardiner resumed on 14 August ... without question.  From there it was one small step to advise the registrar about the cause of death.  Thus Mr Gardiner might find it professionally difficult to cast any doubt on Dr Hunt's findings.

It is of course obvious that a forensic pathologist will have greater expertise in certain areas than other medical specialists.  Changes in the body after death including the onset of rigor mortis would be one such area I suggest.  I have covered this before but it need to be stated again: successful suicide by wrist slashing is very rare, attempted suicide (including a "cry for help") much more common.  There is no evidence that as a pathologist Dr Hunt had ever attended a scene where someone had died from a cut wrist, he certainly never mentioned it.  Again we don't know whether Mr Green had actually visited such an event. Their experience  in dealing with such a situation would be at best minimal and very likely non-existent.

Contrast this with the ambulance team: Vanessa Hunt and Dave Bartlett had attended plenty of attempted suicides by wrist slashing, in other words they knew what the scene would look like under such circumstances.  Mr Bartlett was to later comment that he had seen more blood from a nosebleed than he had noted at Harrowdown Hill.  Similarly one of the doctors trying to get an inquest, David Halpin, has had a lot of experience in repairing cut wrist arteries and knows that if one such artery is completely transected the body's defences are fired up and the small, matchstick thickness artery retracts and stops the bleeding.  The blood loss is quite minimal providing the person isn't suffering from a blood clotting disorder.  There was no evidence of such a problem with Dr Kelly.  

It must be remembered too that Dr Hunt, on the 19th July, had stated the cause of death simply as haemorrhage and incised wounds to the left wrist.  It wasn't until his altered report six days later that he decided to add co-proxamol ingestion and coronary artery atherosclerosis.

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