Thursday, 13 January 2011

The blood in the Barbour jacket sleeve

In his closing statement at the Inquiry Mr Dingemans tries to downgrade the observations of the ambulance crew regarding the lack of blood at the scene:

There was a wound on his left wrist and an artery had been severed. Dr Kelly was declared dead at the scene. Notwithstanding the cut to the wrist, the ambulance personnel when they came to give evidence reported not seeing much blood, though they accepted they were not looking in detail.  The forensic biologist has assisted in this respect.  He identified the blood, the stains on the clothing and the blood on the leaves, which had acted in part as blotting paper.

Of course, although not part of the evidence, the ambulance crew almost certainly had greater experience of the scene of a wrist slashing than either Dr Hunt or Mr Green for the simple reason that wrist slashing almost always ends in failure and so forensic pathologists and forensic biologists just can't be expected to have the experience of this type of injury and its effects.  Now obviously the fact that Mr Green was on site for almost 5 hours and Dr Hunt for even longer must mean that they would see blood that the paramedics didn't, for example when the body was undressed.  What is interesting though is just how much information Vanessa Hunt and Dave Bartlett took in and reported whilst only with the body for 5 to 10 minutes.  In contrast Dr Hunt's reporting of what he saw was very sub standard - however good he may be at the practical stuff he has also to prepare a report for the coroner that is absolutely crystal clear and well detailed throughout.  Dr Hunt I'm afraid fails the test on clarity.

This post concentrates on the left sleeve of the Barbour jacket that Dr Kelly was wearing when his body was discovered.   This is part of the interchange between Mr Dingemans and Vanessa Hunt:

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.

From the interview given by the ambulance crew in the Observer of 12 December 2004 we read:

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.

So we are clear that when the ambulance crew attended at about 10 o'clock that morning the jacket and shirt had been pulled up almost to the elbow.  Now we need to look at Dr Hunt's published report of the 25th July.  In it Dr Hunt, quite correctly in my view, describes how each leg of Dr Kelly's jeans was pulled up, the left one to about mid calf level and the right one to just above the ankle.  However I can't find a similar reference to the left sleeve of the coat and shirt.  There seem to be two possibilities here: either he has been negligent in not reporting the sleeves pulled up or the sleeves have somehow rolled themselves down in the hours following the ambulance crew's visit.  If Dr Hunt is right about the dead body not having been brought to Harrowdown Hill by another party and the latest possible time of death was 01.15 in the early morning then it seems difficult to believe that the sleeve could have rolled down unless the onset of rigor mortis had an effect.

This sleeve positioning becomes really important when, for want of a better term, Dr Hunt tries to "sex up" his report in August 2010:

In actual fact there were big, thick clots of blood inside the sleeve, which came down over the wrist, and a lot of blood soaked into the ground,' he said.

Is Dr Hunt saying here that the sleeve came down over the wrist or the clots of blood did or what?  There shouldn't be confusion like this.  In his report he has a section headed 'Bloodstaining and contamination on clothing'. Under it are a number of bullet points including 'There was heavy bloodstaining over the left arm, including that part that was within the jacket at the scene'.  The implication seems to be that not all the arm was within the sleeve but he doesn't indicate how much whereas with the ambulance crew we can visualise the appearance from their description.
It's possible I suppose that when Dr Kelly started cutting the jacket sleeve was almost down to his wrist, blood got into the sleeve and then he pushed the shirt and jacket sleeve almost up to his elbow out of the way and to facilitate further cutting.  I'm not convinced though.  I do find it difficult to believe that there were 'big, thick clots of blood' inside the Barbour jacket when we know the sleeve was pushed well back toward the elbow when the ambulance crew arrived.  

It's annoying too in his report that Dr Hunt overuses the word 'bloodstaining' (insert your own definition).  Why didn't he use the words 'big, thick clots of blood' at the Inquiry? 


  1. Regarding the question I posed in the last sentence of this post perhaps I had better answer it before someone else does - 'because he is a big, thick clot'!

  2. Brian, this is an excellent piece of work. The ambulance crew must have been very close to attach the pads to the chest. They must also have seen many cut wrists yet they did not notice a wound in this case. I think Mr Hunt is making it up (clots) in 2010 to justify the official narrative which is not supported by the evidence. Even if the wrist were dosed up after the paramedics left and the sleeve rolled down as you say, he still fails to mention the word clot at the Inquiry. We know very little about the period 10.07 to 12.07. Anything could have happened around the body: indeed upto 2pm.when Messrs Hunt and Green started work in earnest.

  3. Also, concerning the second part of Dr Hunt's statement quoted from the Daily Mail 'and a lot of blood soaked into the ground', no evidence whatsoever has been provided by Dr Hunt to back up this assertion.

  4. Over to Mr Green and all his soil samples (cough)...

  5. Felix,

    David Kelly's left wrist was, as I understand the evidence, palm downwards.

    Much (but how much?) of the wound complex would have been facing the ground as a result.

    That, I think, is a significant factor in the wound not being seen by the paramedics.