Thursday, 11 October 2012

The repositioning of the left arm (1)

In my last post I focussed on the irrefutable evidence that Dr Kelly's body was moved between the time Brock, the search dog belonging to Louise Holmes, found it and the arrival of the ambulance team on scene confirming death.  Briefly, Ms Holmes and the first police officer to see the body (DC Coe) have both very clearly stated that the head and shoulders were against the trunk of a tree.  Ambulanceman Dave Bartlett also left us in no doubt that there was sufficient space between the head and the tree for him to stand in the gap, a fact corroborated by photographs of the scene.

It's not just the body that was moved though.  Close examination of the evidence shows that the left arm was repositioned and that Dr Hunt's view of it was significantly different from that of the two ambulance crew.  It's this evidence I want to examine now.

Louise Holmes said this in her witness statement:

I saw the body of a male person.  I did not go any closer than 4 feet from the body.
I saw a significant amount of blood, which was located on the left arm of this person and on his trousers.  I saw that this person was slumped against the base of the tree with his head and shoulders resting on the trunk, his legs were stretched out straight in front of him.  I thought that the left arm had been cut off because of its position and angle that I had seen it resting at.  The left arm was laid out to the left of his body, it seemed to be bent backwards at a funny angle.  I did not touch the body, however it is possible that my dog 'Brock' may have moved the body when it was found.  The right arm of the person was positioned by the right side of the body.

At the Inquiry this is what she said:

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.

So we have the left arm laid out to the left of the body but also bent back 'at a funny angle'.  The use of that phraseology is significant in my view in that there was clearly something unnatural in the positioning of that arm.  I've cautioned before about 'His left arm had a lot of blood on it'.  The observation of 'a lot of blood' would I suggest be largely governed by past experience of seeing blood, the perception of a lot of blood by Ms Holmes could be markedly different from that of Ms Hunt and Mr Bartlett in my opinion.

I have no doubt whatsoever that DC Coe, PC Franklin and PC Sawyer had seen the body in more than one position ... and had also seen the left arm in different positions.  It is highly significant that Mr Knox didn't ask DC Coe about where the arms were and that Coe didn't volunteer any information on that subject.

Moving on to the two ambulance crew and we are fortunate that they gave much useful information about the arm positions at the Inquiry and subsequently.

At the Inquiry Ms Hunt was questioned by Mr Dingemans:

Q. Could you see anything on the body itself? A. On his left arm, which was outstretched to the left of him, there was some dry blood. 

At the end of her testimony she was asked if there was anything else she could add.  It's at this point that she remarked that there was a minimal amount of blood.  This evidently rang alarm bells with Mr Dingemans and he questioned her further but then found himself in more difficulty:

Q. And is there anything else that you know of about the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death that you can assist his Lordship with?
A. Only that the amount of blood that was around the scene seemed relatively minimal and there was a small patch on his right knee, but no obvious arterial bleeding. There was no spraying of blood or huge blood loss or any obvious loss on the clothing.
Q. On the clothing?
A. Yes.

Q. One of the police officers or someone this morning said there appeared to be some blood on the ground. Did you see that? 
A. I could see some on -- there were some stinging nettles to the left of the body. As to on the ground, I do not remember seeing a sort of huge puddle or anything like that. There was dried blood on the left wrist. His jacket was pulled to sort of mid forearm area and from that area down towards the hand there was dried blood, but no obvious sign of a wound or anything, it was just dried blood. 
Q. You did not see the wound?
A. I did not see the wound, no.
Q. You were not looking at the wound, then? 
A. The hand -- from what I remember, his arm -- left arm was outstretched to the left of the body.  
Q. Yes. 
A. Palm up or slightly on the side (indicates) and, as I say, there was dried blood from the edge of the jacket down towards the hand but no gaping wound or anything obvious that I could see from the position I was in. 
Q. Were you examining the wrist for --
A. No, I was not. No.
Q. And were you examining the ground for blood or blood loss?
A. No.
MR DINGEMANS: Right. Thank you.

She used the word 'outstretched' twice in relation to the left arm.  The jacket sleeve was pulled up to the mid forearm area and there was dried blood from here down towards the hand but no obvious wound.  When the arm is outstretched the natural position of the wrist is 'palm up or slightly on the side'.  Incisions on the ulnar artery side of the wrist would be far less evident under those circumstances than if the cuts were to the radial artery (thumb side of wrist).

Dave Bartlett in response to Mr Knox confirms the position of the left arm and orientation of the wrist:

Q. What did you then come across?
A. They led us up to where the body was laid, feet facing us, laid on its back, left arm out to one side (indicates) and the right arm across the chest.
Q. What about the hands? Did you notice anything about the position of the hands? 

A. It was slightly wrist up, more wrist up than down. 

Later in Dave Bartlett's examination:

Q. Did you see any items next to the body?
A. Yes, to the left side above just where the arm was, there was a wristwatch, a silver knife with a curved blade and a bottle of water.
Q. And the bottle of water, was that empty or full or --  

A. I think it was empty. 

Knox very wisely didn't pursue the question of lack of blood:

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly's death?
A. Just the same as my colleague actually, we was surprised there was not more blood on the body if it was an arterial bleed.
MR KNOX: Thank you very much. 

In the Observer article of 12 December 2004 in which the two ambulance crew were interviewed we read this:

Both saw that the left sleeves of his jacket and shirt had been pulled up to just below the elbow and there was dried blood around his left wrist.
'There was no gaping wound... there wasn't a puddle of blood around,' said Hunt. 'There was a little bit of blood on the nettles to the left of his left arm. But there was no real blood on the body of the shirt. The only other bit of blood I saw was on his clothing. It was the size of a 50p piece above the right knee on his trousers.'

In an earlier post I had pointed out that the shirt had, in fact, short sleeves - as noted by forensic scientist Roy Green in his report dated 27 September 2003. 

Matt Sandy interviewed Mr Bartlett for the Mail on Sunday of 12 September 2010 and this is part of the piece:

Mr Bartlett said: 'As we approached the scene, it was obvious he was dead.  He was lying flat out in the clearing with his bottle of water, knife and watch in line right next to his left arm.
'His left sleeve was rolled up and you could see a wound with some dried blood around it'.

It can be seen that the two ambulance crew saw the body with the left arm outstretched, with the wrist in its natural position of being more up than down, with the sleeve pulled up towards the elbow and with some dried blood present but no obvious wound.  The "props" appear to have been above the arm and thus seemingly in line with the head.  Ms Hunt made no comment about the positions of the left arm and props impeding her from getting close to the left side of the upper body.  In this clear area she would surely have noticed any significant pooling of blood on the ground.

Nowhere in their testimonies at the Inquiry or in subsequent press interviews do the ambulance crew refer to the left arm being bent back in a funny position as stated by Louise Holmes.

That the position of the left arm was changed as well as the body being moved may not be too surprising.  It will be evident from my next post though that the left arm, watch and knife were repositioned before Dr Hunt conducted his examination at the scene.

Finally in this post I will just mention that the paramedics reported that the right arm was up over the chest whereas Ms Holmes sees it at the side of the body.  

1 comment:

  1. At a guess there is a missing witness ? What do you do to the arm when you try to treat a wrist cut?

    Rather similar to Matron McGill Decd 1972 and a mark between shoulder blades. It turns out almost certainly caused by well intended first aid as a man mistook secondary drowning for choking. A witness who appears to be the man physically prevented by Suffolk Police from gatecrashing the inquest.

    Just a thought.