Last Friday I wrote a post about the early part of DC Graham Coe's evidence to the Hutton Inquiry and now I want to consider what happened after he made the interesting decision in which he said he "made a sort of search towards the river".
Back on Monday 4th October I had penned an item relating to the testimony of searcher Paul Chapman. It was Paul working with colleague Louise Holmes and search dog Brock who discovered Dr Kelly's body. When Paul made contact with the police via his mobile he was instructed to return with Louise to the bottom of the rough track that leads to Harrowdown Hill from Common Lane, this being the place where Louise had parked the car before commencing the search. The police would meet them there. Within two or three minutes of setting off they were I think quite stunned to see three men walking towards them. These were DC Coe and two companions and Paul relates that they confirmed their identity as members of Thames Valley Police. Paul and Louise explained that they were searchers and had just found Dr Kelly's body. It seems that Mr Coe and his colleagues were unaware that these early searchers were in the area and similarly Paul and Louise had no idea that there was a police presence nearby.
Whereas Louise and her dog continued back towards the car Paul took the police, or rather Mr Coe, into the woods to show the policeman the body. Mr Coe states that they went about 75 yards into the woods to reach the body. Interestingly the last mention Mr Coe makes so far as I can see of any accompanying policemen is just prior to his being led solo into the woods by Paul when he confirms to Mr Knox that he was with DC Shields. Whilst Paul now goes back down the track Mr Coe states that for the next 25 to 30 minutes he is alone with the body. Bizarrely he makes no further mention of his colleague or colleagues. Mr Knox doesn't ask him about what Mr Shields might be doing at this time, one is left to assume that he is just waiting out on the track not having observed the body. All along the impression is given that Mr Coe for the moment is in charge and making the decisions.
Mr Coe says that during this period he was within "7 or 8 feet" of the body. Although a detective and alone for a considerable time with the corpse of someone then very much in the national media Mr Coe displays almost no curiosity it seems. He did observe a watch off the body, a knife and a water bottle - he wasn't able to say whether the last named still contained any water though. He did observe Dr Kelly was wearing a Barbour jacket and trousers and that he had a cap but surprisingly couldn't be certain in his evidence whether the cap was on Dr Kelly's head or off the body. He wasn't sure about the type of footwear and I can almost understand that. Time was when different sorts of shoes and boots were quite distinct as to purpose but now they can often be a cross between different types. So there are some walking boots which might also be referred to as trainers and vice-versa. When paramedic Vanessa Hunt arrived she described his footwear as "a pair of boots or trainer cross type footwear".
The other thing that I must mention, and which has caused a huge amount of controversy, is the position of the body. Asked "And how was the body positioned?" Mr Coe replies " It was laying on its back - the body was laying on its back by a large tree, the head towards the trunk of the tree." The position of the body and whether it was moved will be something I want to give an opinion on in a later post.