Sunday, 9 January 2011

DC Coe guarded the body for 25 to 30 minutes - or did he?

It appears to be accepted as a fact that once searcher Paul Chapman had shown DC Coe the body then the detective stood guard at the scene for 25 to 30 minutes.  Certainly the chronology fits pretty well if Mr Chapman leads DC Coe to the body at say 9.30 and PCs Franklin and Sawyer get to the top of the track at about 10 o'clock.   This is an exchange between Mr Knox and DC Coe at the Inquiry:

Q. How far away from the body did you actually go? 
A. 7 or 8 feet.
Q. How long did you spend at the scene?
A. Until other officers came to tape off the area. I would think somewhere in the region of about 25 or 30 minutes.
Q. Did anyone then arrive after that time?
A. Yes, two other police officers arrived, I took them to where the body was laying and then they made a taped off area, what we call a common approach path for everybody to attend along this one path.

Here we have another classic example of the muddled evidence presented at the InquiryI guess it is just loose language but it might be assumed that one lot of officers taped off the area and then after that a new pair of officers (evidently Franklin and Sawyer) arrive on the scene.  I'm assuming in reality we are just talking about PCs Franklin and Sawyer.  Whether Mr Dingemans and Mr Knox set out to avoid crystal clear clarity is an interesting question!

From the wording in the last answer we see that DC Coe took his police colleagues to the body.  In other words at that moment in time when he meets the two police constables he is not with the body!  When one looks at the testimonies of PCs Franklin and Sawyer together with that of the ambulance crew it becomes apparent that he is down on the track and then leads them to the body. 

Dr Kelly's body is well into the wood, by DC Coe's estimation about 75 yards, PC Franklin reckoned 50 to 75 metres, somewhere approaching three quarters of the length of a football pitch then.  If DC Coe is down on the track when the PCs and the ambulance crew come into view my thought is 'how long had he been down on the track, after Mr Chapman showed him the body did he decide it was better to join his companions down on the track sooner rather than later'.  My logic suggests that DC Shields should have accompanied DC Coe and Paul Chapman to note the body location, then whilst DC Coe remains with the corpse DC Shields returns to the track so that when the cavalry turn up he can take them to the correct spot.

Now I'm not suggesting that as soon as DC Coe left the body to head for the track that men from the security services materialised from the undergrowth and for instance moved Dr Kelly's body but nevertheless the possibility that the body was left unguarded does cause concern.  In my next post I will examine the fact that DC Coe noted very little about Dr Kelly, strange for someone who was with the body for up to half an hour apparently.


  1. There appears to be some confusion here regarding the position of the body in the wood in relation to the point on the track where the "Common Approach Path" would have started.
    Harrowdown Wood is barely 100m wide at its widest point, and the trees and undergrowth are not very dense in the area where Dr Kelly's body was found so it would be possible to see the body from the track if one was to stand right on the edge of the track and look into the wood between the trees. I do have photos (taken recently) that illustrate this point should anybody unfamiliar with the location wish to see them.
    DC Coe would not have had to set foot in the wood in order to show fellow officers where the body lay, he could have stood in the track that ran alongside the wood and by pointing into the wood he could have shown them exactly where the body lay.
    I also have it on good authority that DC Coe did not move the body. He was never out of site of other officers or other people (several local farmers and volunteers had joined in the search by the time the body had been found)
    However when DC Coe states he was "guarding" the body, or at least when he thought he was "guarding" the body it would be logical that he was "guarding" it from people approaching from the Longworth village end of the wood.....not from the other other way. In order to do this he would have been 100yds or so down track to the south of the wood probably near the gate that leads into the grass field to the south of the wood, not as he states 7 to 8 ft away from the body.....there would have been too greater risk of him trampling on potential evidence if he had waited that close to the body for 1/2 hour.
    This would have given him control of the track and a reasonable view of grass field to the left of the track in case anybody chose to enter the wood by going through the gate and accross the grass field.
    When DC Coe speaks about walking up into the wood with the other officers to show them where the body lay I think he means that he then walked up the last part of the track and round the corner to the point on the track where it was possible to access the wood....the "Common Approach Path"
    So whilst DC Coe was or at least thought he was guarding the body anybody from the other direction could have done pretty much what ever they wanted and Coe probably wouldn't know a thing about it.

  2. Farmouse's point about the probable location of DC Coe "guarding" the body would beautifully explain why he wasn't able to give much detail about Dr Kelly (see my following post). It's possible then that DC Coe whilst keeping an eye on the "front door" was effectively leaving the "back door" open.

    If the "boat people" weren't innocent holidaymakers, then when found by Brock the dog did a couple of them get out of the boat to watch the searchers and dog going back towards Harrowdown Hill? Did they see the searchers going round the north side of the wood (in the adjacent field)? Did they have the technology to listen in on Paul Chapman's 999 call? Did they nip back up to the hill when it was evident that dog and searchers were leaving the hill and heading south back down the track? Some interesting possibilities!

  3. The information from @Farmouse about the civilians searching at Harrowdown Hill is new (I stand to be corrected).Who had asked them?
    Read what ACC Mick Page has to say:
    Well the result of my meeting [5.15 onwards] was that we began to establish a search pattern. As a holding measure,I asked for officers who were reinforcement officers who were arriving about this stage -- we had between 30 and 40 officers available to us, and I asked them to start searching outward from Dr Kelly's house. I asked for the helicopter to be brought into play again."

    Compare with what PC Franklin says...
    " I believe it was only the two volunteers out searching at that time. The parameters for our search and the logistics of calling our teams in does take a bit of time. So PC Sawyer and I were going to be the first team out on the ground."

    So what happened to the 30 plus police searchers? Could they not have been summoned quickly to help DC Coe secure Harrowdown Hill? Wouldn't it have been better for Coe to stand where Farmouse took photos? He couldn't be in two places at once. Or did he have to leave the potential VIP body unattended?
    And why wasn't the helicopter brought back into play after the 5.15 meeting?
    Notice this too from Mr Page
    "The police helicopter had also been called out and had been making intermittent searches. WHY INTERMITTENT? (the refuelling is I think a red herring)

  4. From farmouse

    It was probably not the boat people, who walked back up to the wood and moved the body, they would have been dressed in casual clothes (they were on holiday) but remember the boat people claimed they had seen "Police Officers" at some time previous when questioned by the dog handlers earlier that morning.
    Could these "Police Officers" have been hiding in the disused buildings that comprise Thameside Farm in between times?
    Or perhaps the body was moved by any of the many "Police Officers" that seem to appear as if from nowhere during the morning of the 18th, while DC Coe guarded the body from the various other poeple who had walked accross from the village.