Sunday, 30 September 2012

Conflicting evidence - Coe, Franklin, Sawyer (2)

In my last but one blogpost I reproduced an email I had sent to Mr McGinty at the Attorney General's Office pointing out the differing testimonies given by Coe, Franklin and Sawyer regarding the approach to the body.  I remarked in this email that I considered that there was clear evidence of lies having been told by the police at the Hutton Inquiry.

In the post I also reproduced number 55 from the "Schedule of responses to issues raised" on the Attorney General's website.  This had dealt with the matter raised in my email.  The following sentence in the response is particularly relevant to what I now wish to discuss:

The accounts of the officers does not appear to differ in any significant way.

The phrase "they would say that wouldn't they" springs readily to mind.

Dave Bartlett at the Inquiry says that they arrived at 9.55 which seems reasonable in relation to the time they were called out - 9.40.  This is part of Sawyer's evidence at the Inquiry:

We started walking up the track. We also had with us two paramedics who had arrived, which we took up with us to make sure that the person we were going to see did not require any medical assistance.
Q. Those two paramedics had obviously arrived separately from you?
A. They had arrived more or less at the same time we did. So the five of us went up because we were with Sergeant Alan Dadd as well.

Thus, if the official narrative is to be believed, Sawyer and Franklin arrived at the bottom of the track at about the same time as the ambulance and then Sawyer, Franklin, Dadd and the two paramedics walk up the track together.

The following series of questions and answers between Mr Knox and PC Sawyer are detailed and specific and, I would suggest, are not liable to misinterpretation:  

Q. Where did you stop the cars?
A. Stopped the cars -- I believe it at is the top, I have not seen the map but I believe it is at the top of Common Lane. Then we turned left and right up to the track which leads up to Harrowdown Hill.
Q. You go along the track, where do you then go to?
A. We met Paul from SEBEV walking down the hill.
Q. Paul Chapman?

A. He told us basically the body was further up in the woods. We continued walking up the hill, where I saw DC Coe and two uniformed officers. I said, you know: whereabouts is the body? He pointed the path he had taken. I asked him if he had approached the body. He said he had. I asked him to point out where he had entered the woods and PC Franklin and myself entered the woods at the same point, taking with us a dozen or 15 aluminium poles we use when we are moving towards a scene to establish a common approach path. 

Q. Were the paramedics with you at the time?
A. Yes.
Q. The other three officers?
A. They remained down on the path.
Q. So it is you, PC Franklin and two paramedics, then the other three officers you have met; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. You go down further into the woods, is that right?
A. The three officers -- DC Coe and the two uniformed officers -- stayed on the path which leads through the woods. We branched off to the left about 50 or 70 metres up into the woods, where the body was. 

Q. So it is just the four of you; is that right?
A. Just the four of us went up there.

The description given by Sawyer of his interaction with Coe is quite frankly unbelievable.  We are told that Coe is with two uniformed officers.  Sawyer asks him about the whereabouts of the body and Coe points out the path he took.  Sawyer asked him if he had approached the body.  Answer: yes he had.  We are asked to believe that Coe didn't actually take Franklin and Sawyer to the body even though there were two uniformed officers guarding the path.  Is this credible?  Of course not!  Yet Sawyer couldn't be clearer that Coe didn't accompany them to the body.

On the other hand both Coe and Franklin are quite certain that the former took Franklin and Sawyer to the body, a fact that was confirmed by Hutton himself as we shall see.

This is from Coe's evidence:

Q. How far away from the body did you actually go?
A. 7 or 8 feet.
Q. How long did you spend at the scene?
A. Until other officers came to tape off the area. I would think somewhere in the region of about 25 or 30 minutes.

Q. Did anyone then arrive after that time?
A. Yes, two other police officers arrived, I took them to where the body was laying and then they made a taped off area, what we call a common approach path for everybody to attend along this one path.

To be precise here Coe doesn't name Franklin and Sawyer so in theory the 'two other police officers' could have been the two in uniform that Sawyer stated were with Coe.  However Sawyer made clear that it was he and Franklin who marked out the common approach path.

This is what Franklin had to say:

Q. Did you get taken into the wood?
A. DC Coe took us into the woods, PC Sawyer and myself, to the area where the body was.
Q. And what did you see there?
A. We walked between 50 and 70 metres into the wood up a slight gradient, and in a clearing at the base of a tree was the body of a white male.

Franklin here says Coe took Sawyer and himself to the area where the body was.  This is in direct contradiction to Sawyer later saying that Coe merely pointed the way he had taken into the wood.  It's worth remembering that the testimony from Sawyer immediately followed that of Franklin on that Tuesday morning.  It should have been very obvious that there was a problem with Sawyer's responses to detailed questioning from Mr Knox in as much as it was illogical for Coe not to have gone up to the body with the two police constables and that his evidence was markedly different from that of his colleague that they had just heard from.  Hutton at that moment could have, and should have, interjected to resolve the anomaly but decided not to.

In a letter dated 1 December 2010 to the Attorney General's Office Hutton reinforces Franklin's version of events 

In it Hutton attempts to deal with the question of whether the body had been moved.  After reproducing Coe's evidence that Mr Chapman had taken him to the body he next states (on page 11):

Detective Constable Coe then took Police Constable Sawyer and Police Constable Franklin to see the body.  

That seems to me to be clear enough!

Sawyer's version of events, on the face of it at least, fits in with what the ambulance team had to say.  Yet it is at odds with Franklin's and Coe's testimonies.  How could Coe have shown Franklin and Sawyer the body prior to them attending the scene with the two ambulance crew?  It's an interesting conundrum which I'll address in another blogpost.   

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