Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A very odd way to commit suicide

Thames Valley Police and many media commentators appear to be convinced that Dr David Kelly killed himself at Harrowdown Hill either late on Thursday 17 July 2003 or in the early hours of the following day the 18th July.  It seems to me that all these people are coming from the wrong direction: they can't imagine that Dr Kelly was murdered so therefore he committed suicide.  There is always the possibility of course that he was murdered but the death was dressed up to look like suicide.

So why couldn't he have been murdered?  Well say the disbelievers that means there would have been some sort of conspiracy.  Can anybody explain to me why there couldn't have been some sort of conspiracy.  That doesn't mean that all the players caught up in the drama that was the unexplained death of Dr Kelly were part of some super conspiracy.  For instance the very many people who hate Tony Blair might believe that he was involved in such a conspiracy.  We don't have evidence of that.  Then there is the belief that in this country our security services just don't go round bumping off people like Dr Kelly.  I really don't know what happens in the murky world of intelligence but a killing might have been down to agents from another country for all we know.  Because the police found no sign of a struggle in the area of the body or on the body itself they deduce that there was no third party involvement in the death.  This might reduce the likelihood of murder being the cause of death but it is ridiculous to eliminate murder entirely on this basis. 

What has happened it seems is that the police and the forensic pathologist have decided that Dr Kelly committed suicide.  Not on any provable forensic basis but because they can't see the death could be one of murder so it just has to be suicide.  The absurdities that surround the alleged method of suicide count for nothing - for the police and journalists such as Tom Mangold and John Rentoul it's a sad case of suicide, don't argue.

In this post I am not discussing motives for suicide or murder I am looking at the way Dr Kelly supposedly killed himself.  Dr Kelly was 59 when he died, we know he had a very powerful intellect, can we believe that he would select a method to kill himself that had no guarantee of 100% success?  And why choose a way that would lead to a prolonged death, a death in which there was a possibility that he might be discovered before life was finally extinguished.  He would have had plenty of other options for goodness sake - how about drowning himself in one of the many flooded gravel pits in that part of the Thames Valley.  Or about falling off a high building.  Or jumping in front of a train .  Rapidity.  Sureness of success. That's what he would have looked for.

We are told that Dr Kelly took an excessive number of co-proxamol tablets  It is assumed, never proven, that the tablets came from a supply that Mrs Kelly kept at the family home for her arthritis.  Mrs Kelly's tablets were on prescription.  This means that the blister packs would have to have been in packaging with her name on it - a legal requirement.  Why wasn't the question of the missing packaging raised?  Many people insist that Dr Kelly swallowed 29 tablets on the basis that 29 were missing from the blister packs.  This of course is totally illogical.  On the other hand if he took just four where are the missing 25?  If he did take an excessive number of tablets then he would have become drowsy, hardly the best situation for wrist cutting.  In an earlier post I had demonstrated that he had a minimal amount of water with him, a maximum of 500 ml, some of which was unused and I would suggest that it is an absolute nonsense that he could have taken more than a small number of co-proxamol, certainly an insufficient number to guarantee death.

Moving on to the cutting of the ulnar artery.  Some have said that people have died from the cutting of this artery but I'm waiting to see anyone actually giving factual details to back up any such statement.  It is totally sensible to believe that Dr Kelly would be aware that cutting a small artery transversely in this manner would have an absolute minimum chance of success.  So why would he do it.  Why not at least go for the much more accessible radial artery, this would also make for a far more comfortable cutting action than going for the ulnar artery.  Why did Dr Kelly select the least suitable knife he could find?  There are arteries in other parts of the body that would have bled out far more quickly than the ulnar.  Dr Hunt had noted 'an old, curving scar around the outer aspect of the right elbow', perhaps he should have asked himself whether that affected his ability to use an old gardening knife to cut the ulnar artery.

Regarding the knife found at the scene we have never seen proof that it was used for cutting Dr Kelly's ulnar artery nor has it been proven that this knife was the one owned by Dr Kelly.  At the Inquiry Dr Hunt said this:

The complex of incised wounds over the left wrist is entirely consistent with having been inflicted by a bladed weapon, most likely candidate for which would have been a knife. Furthermore, the knife present at the scene would be a suitable candidate for causing such injuries.

This is hardly proof that the knife found caused the wrist injuries.

At an inquest suicide would have to be proved 'beyond all reasonable doubt'.  Even just these few observations I've made show that the verdict of Lord Hutton is unsafe   


  1. Brian,
    A few thoughts:
    1. Dr Kelly was an expert on poisons, probably more of an expert than anyone reading this today.
    2. Dr Kelly lived opposite a pub, and about 200yards down the road from an off licence.
    3. Dr Kelly was found in Harrowdown Wood with a packet of coproxamol pills and a bottle of water.
    4. Coproxamol pills are not easy things to swallow, nevertheless if washed down with water an overdose can be dangerous, it can cause irreversible liver damage and that can kill you.
    5. Victims may lose consciousness within 40 to 60 mins, they may even die if a liver transplant can't be organised.
    6. Dr Kelly’s body was found lying/sitting/leaning against a tree in a small wood. It was visible from a public footpath.
    7. People Dr Kelly knew walked along that footpath
    8. The toxicity of coproxamol is greatly increased in the presence of alcohol. In an overdose situation the dextropropoxyphene (One of the components of coproxamol) will cause a victim almost certain death within 40 to 60mins if the victim has consumed enough alcohol.

    But Dr Kelly took a bottle of water.

  2. Frank
    Your thoughts are very interesting!
    Although Dr Kelly we understand stopped drinking alcohol when he converted to the Baha'i faith I believe that he would have been prepared to imbibe alcohol, if he wished to kill himself by co-proxamol poisoning - just this once .....

  3. Brian,
    The Baha'i were also very much against suicide, so if the suicide verdict is to believed then clearly Dr Kelly wasn't taking the faith very seriously!

  4. And while on the subject of the bottle of water, did anybody ever ask where did the bottle come from?
    Did the Kelly's have this brand of water in the house?
    Did Dr Kelly purchase this bottle at the local shop, do the local shop even sell this brand, they didn't have any when I called in to check them out.
    If he bought it from the local shop it would have a little label on it "Southmoor Food & Wines" They were labeling all their products at the time (they didn't have a barcode swiping machine)
    Might be something to include in your next FOI request Brian!