The evident purpose of Annex TVP-1 is to provide an explanation of DC Coe's failure to remember that there was a third person with him when he met the searchers soon after they had discovered the body. The annex also attempts to distance DC Shields and the third man from the body itself with emphasis on the fact that it was only DC Coe who was shown the body by Paul Chapman.
In this post I want to concentrate on what DC Coe had to say in his witness statement with later posts on the third man and whether anybody else went with Coe to the body.
This is the text of at least part of DC Coe's witness statement, described by Mr McGinty as 'very short, not particularly descriptive but factually correct':
At 0940 am on Friday 18th July 2003 together with a Mr. Paul Chapman a volunteer search person, I went to Harrow Down Hill, Longworth where a Mr. Chapman took me into a wooded area for about approximately 75 yards where I was shown the body of a male person who was lying on his back. I could see that his left wrist had blood on it. Close to the wrist was a small knife similar to a pruning knife together with a wrist watch.
There was a small bottle with a label Evian thereon. The male was wearing striped shirt blue jeans that had a stain on the right knee Barbour type jacket. There was also a peaked cap close to this male person.
At 1007 am ambulance crew attended the scene where death was pronounced.
The whole of Annex TVP-1 can be read here http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/Publications/Documents/Annex%20TVP%201.pdf
- The fact that the date was quoted in the first line is indicative of the fact that none of DC Coe's actions that day prior to 9.40 were included in his statement.
- He makes no reference at all to the other personnel who had been with him earlier.
- Was the 'about approximately 75 yards' an eyeball measurement or did he stride it out from the track?
- He notes the blood on the left wrist and a stain on the right knee of the jeans. This matches what the ambulance team had to say although Vanessa Hunt had also recorded her sighting of blood on the nettles.
- The fact that it was an "Evian" bottle is noted but he fails to check whether any liquid was in it. The top was only a few inches from the bottle and it's surprising that Coe didn't pick up on that fact nor, of course, was he asked about it at the Inquiry.
- At the Inquiry he's not sure whether the cap was on or off the head but thinks it was off. Why didn't he check his note book?
- He makes no reference in his statement to Dr Kelly's footwear.
- No mention is made of any vomit on the face or nearby.
- Very significantly the statement makes no reference at all to the tree.
DC Coe's statement can well be described as absolutely minimalist ... as indeed was his evidence at the Inquiry. At the head of a witness form there is a warning to the effect that, if tendered in evidence, the witness shall be liable to prosecution if they have wilfully stated anything they know to be false or do not believe to be true.
With dodgy evidence what would you do as a police officer? I suggest that they would follow the dictum: "When in doubt - leave it out". I'm clear in my own mind that DC Coe's witness statement could have been, and should have been, very much more detailed than it was. As I have said before regarding the investigation into Dr Kelly's death what wasn't written or said is almost important as what was written and said. When important details are left out then the question to be asked is "Why?".