Friday, 17 August 2012

Louise Holmes - finding the body

Continuing with the Inquiry transcript:

Q. When Brock comes running back towards you, what do you then do?
A. He is trained that when he comes back when he has found something he will come back and bark at me, and then I just say: show me. He is trained he will turn round and go back and lead me straight back into what it is that he has found. But he came back and he was barking, so I just said: good boy, where is it? He just sort of laid down and looked at me, at which point I thought: oh okay, he has found something but there is something obviously not quite the same as a normal search or a normal training exercise. So I just went from the direction of which he had come until I got first visual on the body.
Q. So in other words you walked ahead in that case?
A. Yes.
Q. Presumably Brock followed along afterwards?
A. He did not actually, he stayed sitting where he was.
Q. What did you see?
A. I could see a body slumped against the bottom of a tree, so I turned around and shouted to Paul to ring Control and tell them that we had found something and then went closer to just see whether there was any first aid that I needed to administer.

'Shouted to Paul' - he was keeping a distance behind her.
Q. And how close up to the body did you go?
A. Within sort of a few feet of the body.
Q. And did you notice anything about the position of the
A. He was at the base of the tree with almost his head and his shoulders just slumped back against the tree.
Q. And what about his legs and arms? Where were they?
A. His legs were straight in front of him. His right arm was to the side of him. His left arm had a lot of blood on it and was bent back in a funny position.
Q. Did you see any blood anywhere else?
A. Just on the left arm and the left side.
Q. Could you tell whether or not this was the person you had been asked to look for?
A. Yes, the person matched the description that we had been given.
Q. And could you tell whether he was alive or dead?
A. As far as I -- I was happy in my own mind that he was dead and that there was nothing that I could do to help him.
Q. What about Mr Chapman, he was obviously with you at this point, I take it?
A. He was further back than I was.
Q. He was further back when you first saw the body?
A. Yes, and he stayed there to ring Control while I went to check whether there was ...
Q. How long did you spend looking at the body before you went back?

A. Probably only a couple of minutes, if even that. Just enough to check for any signs of life, make myself happy that there was none and that there was nothing I could do; and then I went to go and reward my dog for his find.
Q. I take it you did not actually go up to the body itself and feel the pulse?
A. I did not touch it, no.

There has been some muted criticism of the fact that she didn't check the pulse, something we can be sure she had been trained to do.  I'm not sure that it's fair to make a judgement on her decision without having been there.  Did she have a moment of paralysis in actually making this very basic check.  I really don't know.  She doesn't seem to have deferred to Paul Chapman as to checking the pulse, did she just tell him that the body was dead because surely he would be expected to accurately inform the person he was phoning whether they had a dead body on their hands or one that needed hospital treatment.

Q. And when you went back to Mr Chapman, which path did you take?
A. I walked as best as I could back out the path I walked in.
Q. I take it from that there was a specific path you had walked in; was it actually a track?
A. No, there were no tracks in the wooded area we were searching, no definite tracks anyway.
Q. Were there any tracks, as it were, around the wooded area you were able to see, where the body was, or had the person obviously walked in through the woods?
A. Not that I remember seeing, but ...
Q. When you got back to Mr Chapman, what happened next?
A. Paul had tried to ring Control but had been unable to get to them on the number we had for Control so we decided to ring through to ask to speak to Abingdon off a 999 call. So Paul rang the 999 and said we had some
information relating to that search, and somebody from Abingdon rang us back and we arranged to walk back to the car to meet the police officer to take them and show them where the body was.
Later a "common approach path" was staked out but from her evidence it would seem that its location as a path into the wood wasn't otherwise obvious.  In other words it looks as if the primary purpose of the common approach path was to ensure all personnel were confined to one distinct way in and out rather than saying that this is the obvious way Dr Kelly walked into the wood.  I have a feeling that creating a common approach path would be a fairly normal procedure.

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