Monday, 18 October 2010

DC Coe concludes his evidence

The next part of the drama of finding Dr Kelly's body in which DC Coe is joined by PCs Sawyer and Franklin and the two ambulance crew was causing me a bit of a headache from a presentational point of view.  This was because the evidence from Mr Coe himself continued to be seriously lacking in detail whereas the testimonies of the other four named people (given to Hutton two weeks previously) was fortunately much more informative.

I've been very lucky to have had two regular readers, Felix and Andrew, commenting on my posts because they have supplied me with numerous links and new lines of inquiry.  In fact, following my last post "DC Coe alone with Dr Kelly's body" Andrew has quoted some relevant extracts of the testimonies of PC Franklin, PC Sawyer, Vanessa Hunt and David Bartlett.  He also notes what the two searchers Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman had to say about meeting DC Coe and his companions.  I would suggest backtracking to read Andrew's two comments - I don't particularly want to set all that out again in this posting.

Following Mr Coe's vigil of 25 to 30 minutes (other evidence suggests this length of time is about right) Mr Coe tells Mr Knox that "...two other police officers arrived, I took them to where the body was laying ..."  It would seem that when PCs Franklin and Sawyer followed by the two medics arrived at the wood Mr Coe was out on the track.  Had he heard voices and knew their arrival was imminent and so walked the 70 metres out to the track?  Perhaps one of Mr Coe's companions let out a whistle to know reinforcements had arrived.  We just don't know.  Anyway there seems no doubt that Mr Coe led the new arrivals to Dr Kelly's body and although taking no further part in the proceedings on Harrowdown Hill did stay a few minutes because he records the fact in his notebook that the ambulance people pronounced death at 10.07.

Mr Knox moves on to the following day (Saturday).  He comments "We know the following morning there was a search made of Dr Kelly's premises" and asks "Were you at all involved in that?"  Mr Coe replied  "Yes, I was. I went to the premises and at that time I had an attachment with me who acted as an exhibits officer at the house and I oversaw what he did. I made no search whatsoever of the premises."   This astonishingly is the only question he is asked about the Saturday morning search.

Now follows the standard closing question: And is there anything else you would like to say about the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly?  To which Mr Coe replies with some emphasis "Nothing whatsoever".  

I may write a post detailing examples of questions which Mr Knox could and should have asked of DC Coe.  For the moment though I'll just make a couple of observations: Mr Coe states that he was called out at 6 in the morning.  The only other time he mentions is the 10.07 when Dr Kelly was officially pronounced dead - nothing new here because this latter time was not directly to do with him and already in the public domain.  So from the moment he was called out to go to Abingdon Police Station we have no indication at all from him about his personal timetable of activities.  This is totally utterly unacceptable in such an Inquiry.  The second point for now - when the evidence gets to the point where Mr Coe meets the searchers on Harrowdown Hill he is asked by Mr Knox  "Who were you with at this time?"  Answer: "Detective Constable Shields" .  This is the only occasion that Mr Shields is identified or mentioned in person.  Extraordinary.    


  1. As Felix has noted in the comments section of the previous thread, DC Coe did not actually conclude his evidence until a fortnight after it was first scheduled to begin. He was originally supposed to have given his testimony on 2nd Sept but did in fact not give it until 16th September. At the end of the morning session on the 2nd Mr Dingemans stated:

    "My Lord, Detective Coe, we have not been able to get him here this morning. That, in fact, would then complete this morning's witnesses. We have finished now, I am sorry it is a wee bit early.

    Another issue that should be mentioned at this stage is the matter of the three figures 'in black' who were sighted by a member of the public very early on the morning of July 18th. Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page gave evidence to Lord Hutton about this on 23rd September, his second appearance at the Inquiry.

    The following exchange refers:

    MR DINGEMANS: In the course of your inquiries were you contacted by a person who suggested there had been three men dressed in black wandering around at the time that Dr Kelly's body was found?

    ACC PAGE: Yes, I think both we and the Inquiry received a communication from a gentleman who expressed concern that he had noticed three individuals dressed in dark or black clothing near the scene where Dr Kelly's body was found. I am speaking from memory, but I think the sighting was at somewhere between 8.30 and 9.30 in the morning, something like that.

    MR DINGEMANS: Did you follow up that sighting?

    ACC PAGE: Yes, we undertook some fairly extensive work. We got statements from all our officers who were at the scene and that was in excess of 50. We plotted their movements on a map and eventually were able to triangulate where the writer was talking about and identify three of our officers, so I am satisfied that I am aware of the identity of these three individuals.

    This matter remains something of a mystery, being as PCs Sawyer and Franklin were the first officers tasked with the main search and they did not reach the scene until after Dr Kelly's body had already been found (at some time just after 9:00 AM). There is no record in the public domain to suggest that any other officers, other than DC Coe and his companions, were also out looking for Dr Kelly very early that morning.

    This raises the question of whether the sighting was in fact of DC Coe and the uniformed officers with him. Being as Paul Chapman stated that when he (with Louise and Brock) reached the River Thames and spoke to the boat people there they told them that they had earlier seen some officers:

    MR CHAPMAN: They had heard the helicopter and seen some police officers at some point previously.

    So had DC Coe and the officers in fact already been as far as the river, possible via another route such as past the farm near the end of Marsh Lane and then right and left to the Thames itself to reach more-or-less the same point as the searchers arrived at sometime slightly later?

  2. It is indeed an odd police search which involves a helicopter and nothing else on the ground. The helicopter passed over Harrowdown Hill at 02.50 hrs, Friday morning, but it had obviously been called out from Bedfordshire some time previously.

  3. PS to the above.
    A close reading of Mrs Janice Kelly's testimony paras 52 ff shows that three (wonder if DC Coe was among them?!) policemen turned up at Southmoor within 15 minutes , i.e. about midnight. (oddly Mr Dingemans puts back the phone call to 11, having heard not ten seconds previously that it was made about 11.40pm) Mrs Kelly shows quite an extraordinary amount of detail here because she herself says that the TVP Helicopter had gone off duty and that the one from RAF Benson had to be scrambled. Of course she could have overheard police radio messages, but I would have thought that detail would have been restricted to the police themselves and would have come from them at Hutton, not Mrs Kelly.
    Mrs Kelly goes on to say that the helicopter was involved in searching ...."and tracker dogs too, I must have been 01.00 hrs when the helicopter started searching...three police...may have been joined by a couple more at this stage.".(why may, I wonder?)
    I'm sure that this blog will delve into the reams of uncorroborated detail from Mrs Kelly at the Hutton Inquiry, but it is only germane now to highlight that, according to her, there was already a police search under way. I don't know why she would expect the police helicopter to start the search after pinpointing her house- surely there was better technology available in 2003?
    In actual fact the helicopter came from Bedfordshire, not Benson.(see below)
    Mrs Kelly:"....Benson helicopter.."
    Lord Hutton : - "That is RAF Benson is it?" Mrs Kelly: "That is right"
    That seems to me not a mix-up at all.
    The FoI request about the Bedfordshire helicopter from Bedfordshire on Sunday is herepublished on 17/8/2008.
    I find it quite extraordinary that Mrs Kelly is providing information about the police operation which they themselves fail to do.

  4. PS Norman Baker in his book corrects the erroneous and curious evidence of Mrs Kelly on helicopters in his book. The search started later, in two waves,the first including the 2.50 sweep of Harrowdown Hill.