Friday, 17 August 2012

Louise Holmes - searching

From the Inquiry:

Q. You were at the police station initially, then where do you drive to?
A. We drove to the start of our search area, which was at the bottom of Common Lane in Longworth.
Q. That is where you had been told to go by the police initially?
A. Yes.
Q. You parked and got out of the car?
A. We parked the car at the bottom of the search area and then started our search from where we had parked.
Q. About what time did you arrive at the search area?
A. It was about 8 o'clock.
Q. And what type of search was it that you were going to do? Could you describe the method you were going to have to adopt for this search?

A. Well, I was working with the search dog, so it was a search with the dog and we did it purely as an air scent exercise, so the dog is trained to pick up on particles of human scent and then follow them to their source.
Q. Who was on this search?
A. Me, the dog and Paul.
Q. No-one else had joined you?
A. No.

Confirmation then that no police or others had joined them.

Q. And where did you initially go, after you got out of the car? Can you remember?
A. We walked up the track that runs north, I am told, on my map of Common Lane up towards the River Thames.
Q. Can you describe, generally, how the search went initially? Where did you go?
A. We were given the track to search north up to the River Thames as our boundary and the area of wood to the left of the track. So we did the bottom half of the track, the south boundary of the woods before we were forced to turn back because of a bashed wire fence. So
we then searched through the bottom half of the woods which the fence ran all the way through. We then came back out on to the track, continued up the track to the -- to where our boundary was, came back down the track and did the north perimeter of the wood, and then

went into the wood from the north.
Q. Did you at any point go along the River Thames?
A. We went up to where we -- where our boundary of our search area was on the Thames and spoke to some people there who were just moored on a boat on the Thames.
Q. What did you say to them?
A. Well, Brock had found them because he obviously is just trained to pick up on human scent, so he went off and indicated on them and so I had a game with him as a reward. They just said: what are you doing? We said we were assisting the police in the search for a missing male person and if they saw anything to contact the police.
Q. Did they say they already had seen anything?
A. They said they had seen the helicopter up the previous night but they had not seen anybody or anything other than that.

I've including her evidence about the boat for the sake of continuity but it's a subject to return to later.

Q. Did you eventually manage to get into the wooded area?
A. Yes.
Q. Can you remember roughly what point that was? Was that from the north or the south?
A. We did the north boundary of the wood. The wind was blowing south to north and Brock was scenting in towards the woods. So we came around and came in from the east side of the wood.

Q. Then are you still with Mr Chapman at that point?
A. Yes, Paul was with me.
Q. What happened once you got into the wood?
A. We went into the woods a little way and Brock started to pick up -- he gets quite excited when he gets on to something. And he went off at a quicker pace so I quickened to try to keep up with him, and I just carried on following him and letting him work the area and followed on until he went so that he was nearly almost completely out of my vision, but I could see his tail wagging and he went into the bottom of a tree and then came running back at me barking to indicate that he had found something.
Q. How far into the wood, roughly, was this from the point that you had actually mentioned to get in, a mile or less than that?
A. No, probably only about 200 metres.
Q. Before Brock had found this person, had you noticed anything unusual in the woods? Was there anything in particular you had spotted?
A. No.
Q. Had Brock identified anything before that?
A. Nothing, no.

Her estimate of 200 metres is wildly out, if she had said 200 feet then that would have been a reasonable fit with other witness evidence.

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