Friday, 14 January 2011

The odd position of the Evian water bottle

I had previously written about the Evian water bottle found close to Dr Kelly's body.  From a Freedom of Information request I had ascertained that the amount of water still in the bottle was 111 ml which is approximately 22% of its maximum capacity (this assumes it was full at the start of Dr Kelly's walk and also assumes that he actually took it with him i.e. it wasn't a prop added to the scene).  The Evian bottle was one subject I raised in an open letter to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve: the text of this letter is here

Now I want to turn my attention to the very odd location of the bottle in relation to the body.  First though we need a description of the position of Dr Kelly's left arm.  Some witnesses seem to have had trouble putting their recollection of the position into words and for an attempt at accuracy it is best I think to go to the published report of the forensic pathologist.  Dr Hunt says
'He was lying on his back with his head towards his left shoulder.  His left, upper arm was in a line with the shoulder, with his elbow flexed, and his left hand pointing down towards his feet'.  From this it can be seen that the left arm was certainly not in a normal or naturally comfortable position.

Neither of the two volunteer searchers were asked if they had observed the bottle.  From then on this is how the different witnesses responded when asked about the bottle position:

DC Coe
Q. Did you see a bottle? 
A. I did, a water -- a small water bottle. I think that was the left-hand side of the body as well, towards the top left-hand shoulder.

PC Franklin
and also there was an open bottle of water at the scene. (no more detailed location given)

PC Sawyer
Q. Did you see a bottle of water?
A. I did, by Dr Kelly's head. There was an open bottle of Evian, 500 ml or 300 ml bottle, with the cap by the side of it, by his head.
Q. Was it upright?
A. It was leaning slightly. It had been propped but it was upright. There was still some water in it.

Paramedic Vanessa Hunt
Q. Right. And did you see anything on the ground? 
A. There was a silver bladed knife, a wristwatch, which was off of the wrist.
Q. Yes.
A. And, oh, a water bottle, a small water bottle stood up to the left side of Dr Kelly's head.

Ambulance Technician Dave Bartlett
Q. Did you see any items next to the body?
A. Yes, to the left side above just where the arm was, there was a wristwatch, a silver knife with a curved blade and a bottle of water.
Q. And the bottle of water, was that empty or full or --
A. I think it was empty.
Q. Was it upright or can you remember? 

A. Yes, it was upright.

Forensic Biologist Mr Green
Q. What else did you see around the body?
A. There was a bloodstained watch and a knife to --
Q. Was the knife bloodstained?
A. Yes, it was, yes. There was a Barbour hat/cap near Dr Kelly's left shoulder and then out from that there was an Evian water bottle, the cap of which was just a bit further along. These were -- the bottle was about 25 centimetres from the shoulder.

Forensic Pathologist Dr Hunt
Q. Did you notice a bottle of water? 
A. Yes, there was a bottle of Evian water, half a litre.
Q. Was there any water in that bottle?
A. Yes, there was some remaining water. I do not recall what volume exactly. 
Q. Can you remember precisely where the bottle was in relation to the body?
A. Yes, it was lying propped against some broken branches to the left and about a foot away from his left elbow.
Q. And did you notice anything in particular about the bottle?
A. Yes, there was some smeared blood over both the bottle itself and the bottle top.
Q. Did that indicate anything to you? 

A. It indicated that he had been bleeding whilst at least placing the bottle in its final position. He may already have been bleeding whilst he was drinking from it, but that is less certain. 

This from the Daily Mail:

Mr Bartlett has another concern. The Evian water bottle was standing upright no more than six inches from Dr Kelly’s left upper arm, and he is amazed that he would have not knocked it over while dying.
He said: ‘I said to the copper at the time, “Who stood the bottle of water up or has it been moved?” They said it hadn’t been moved. ‘For someone lying like that on leaf mould with a bottle of water there, he would have knocked it over while dying, I would have thought. It seemed very odd to me.’

Read more:

I have tried lying down flat on my back with my left arm crooked in the position described by Dr Hunt and have attempted to make the body movement necessary to have placed the bottle and its top into the position described by the witnesses.  I need to give a health warning to anyone wanting to try this at home, it's almost impossible unless perhaps you are a contortionist

There is something obviously wrong with the position of the water bottle.  It almost defies belief to think that nobody who would have seen the bottle position on that Friday would have wondered how and why it got there.  And the fact that its top was close by and the bottle was propped up as well.  Once again it is someone from the ambulance crew who sees the nonsense of it all.


  1. I have mentioned before that,from what I have read, a suicide involving Co-proxamol would involve rather a lot of writhing around in agony, especially without alcohol as in this case. It is far from just nodding off to sleep in front of the TV with a cup of tea at your elbow.
    Notice that Mr Green is sent into bat at the Hutton Inquiry early (at short notice, of course) to give his account. The appearances of DC Coe and Mr Hunt followed in the second part of the Inquiry.
    Clearly Mr Green and his SOCO chums would have measured the bottle's position to the nearest centimetre. Yet Mr Green provides nothing else about the bottle. Two weeks later, Mr Hunt is filling in the detail, adding blood to the bottle and bottle top (I won't say cap, that will make it three at the scene!), not noticed by anyone else. Mr Hunt is a pathologist, not a SOCO.
    In retrospect, Mr Bartlett puts the bottle at about 6 inches from the shoulder - about 16cm. That is very close indeed. (I am very interested in this video Mr Hunt watched before examining the site. Is this normal proceduce? Who made the video? Does the video still exist as evidence?)
    It is pure theatre.

  2. Felix - in fairness to Mr Green further on in his evidence he does talk about smears of blood on the bottle and its cap (page 145 lines 16 and 17). I should perhaps have quoted this evidence as well though I wanted to keep things as simple as I could by concentrating on the evidence relating to bottle position only! Because counsel have this habit of hopping about with the evidence gathering, in this case interleaving the Evian bottle stuff with something else, it becomes a nightmare to report on.

    Little nuggets of information keep turning up but one then has the task of trying to put such evidence into context. Not the easiest of jobs!

  3. Ah yes, Sorry Brian. What I notice now is that Mr Green explains away the blood stain on the RIGHT sleeve of the Barbour jacket because Dr Kelly is apparently "leaning across to get the Evian Bottle" (and no doubt replacing it neatly in the same, almost impossible to reach,place). Now that we have hit an artery, allegedly, there would be blood spurting everywhere, although not life threatening, and one might expect more than smears. But perhaps not clots.

  4. The position of the water bottle may have made more sense when Dr Kelly was sat against the tree but not on the left hand side.

    The tendons in the wrist had been partially severed making a grip on the bottle virtually impossible. And why place the watch and knife in a line on the left using the right hand?

    Yes I too have tried placing a bottle in the position(s) reported both from sitting and lying down. It can’t be done lying down and sitting you have to stretch out behind you again with severed tendons. And if sitting why sit some distance from a tree with legs stretched out in front of you (very painful for someone with a bad back. And why pull you trouser legs up?

    So many questions! But the answers exist in the photographs and video. When Dominic Grieve was in opposition he wanted answers to these questions, now that he's the Attorney General he's preventing the truth coming out.

  5. LL - I can understand your frustration about Dominic Grieve not getting on with it. In fact I feel the same! It is a good point made about the photos and video, these together with the very well reasoned submissions made to Mr Grieve must leave him in no doubt about the cover up. The doctors who submitted "The Memorial" asked him last month to put political considerations aside but at the moment he has chosen not to do so.

  6. Felix - regarding a point made in your first comment about the scene video I have no doubt that it was made by one of the SOCOs. In his report Dr Hunt states a SOCO showing him this video (name of SOCO redacted - not acceptable). With the technology readily available my guess is that this has now become standard practice and it could be argued that it is just an extension of the traditional photographic record.

    However as to playing it to the forensic pathologist coming to the site I am 100% against. In a perfect world the forensic pathologist should be only informed about the name of the deceased (if known) and when found. He should come to the deceased "cold" so that his judgement is in no way tainted by previous police information.

    I'm not saying that in this case a SOCO video led Dr Hunt in a particular direction but I rather sense that there was some zooming in on the blood on the left arm and Dr Hunt notes from the video the presence of knife and watch on the ground. Surely it is up to him to see the scene with his own eyes first without any potential selectivity beforehand. I'm saying this as a matter of absolute principle rather than accusing a SOCO of pushing him one way or another in this instance.

  7. Brian, some of the SOCO officers in Mr Hunt's report were not redacted. The one showing the video was redacted. They are all our public servants doing police work. So why the difference in treatment?
    I think your analysis is right on the button in your last comment.

    After re-reading his online report, might I make a couple of comments?
    There is no mention of sleeves being rolled up on the arm whereas the legs of the jeans are described quite precisely. ( a number of full stops in the report are missing in the report,either through poor copying or redaction)

    Andrew Watt has also remarked on the in the order of 2-3 foot POOL of blood running from the left arm. Running implies direction. Mr Hunt give no indication of the direction or indeed the area. (2-3 foot is unidimensional) Was the body on a slope? Why "in the order of"?
    There was also a reported POOL of blood beneath the knife. I infer that the two pools were not connected. Is the knife dripping blood? (say 9x5cm, approx the size of a picture postcard.I am not sure why Mr Hunt oscillates between imperial and metric measures)

  8. Felix - yes the selective redaction of names is totally unsatisfactory. The human rights legislation thing is ridiculous, it's not that exposure of these names will lead to blackmail or any other nasty practice that I can see. And what about OUR human rights for a change! I would love to know from a legal expert whether the human rights excuse does stand up.

    It is a very peculiar situation in Dr Hunt's report whereby as you say he is precise about the legs of the jeans yet ignores the rolled up left sleeve of jacket AND shirt. I had noted the mix of imperial and metric units.

    There are two points that particularly strike me about the report (I might have to do a new post about this!): the first is that his presentation is generally sloppy, there was no real reason at the time not to mention the rolled up left sleeve, and of course we wouldn't normally have a chance to see his report. Remember he is under investigation over the alleged mix up of the two servicemen's bodies.

    The other thing perhaps worth mentioning is that he started the p-m well into the Friday evening (21.20) and finished at 00.15 Saturday morning. He wrote up his initial report for the coroner on the Saturday (19th) when he could have been quite tired. Although it is good that he wants to provide a report for the coroner without undue delay it isn't clever if he gets things wrong!

    The afternoon of the 19th was a ridiculously early time for the police to go public about not looking for anyone else. Were they using Dr Hunt's rushed report conclusions for the justification?

    Excellent point about the 2-3 feet being unidimensional. It's yet another example where Dr Hunt has not been clear and accurate - as I say 'sloppy'.

  9. If one is committing suicide, does one suddenly become a member of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign? If Dr Kelly is happy to leave an obtrusive plastic water bottle in the countryside(not to mention a blunt knife), why does he meticulously put the three co-proxamol tablets back into his jacket pocket? To explain this away,Mr Hunt seems to assume that Dr Kelly had been grazing through the 29 co-proxamol as he was walking around,no doubt drinking copious amounts (389 mls ) of water in the process.
    "Given the finding of blister packs of Coproxamol tablets within the coat pocket and the vomitus around the ground, it is an entirely reasonable supposition that he may have consumed a quantity of these tablets either on the way to or at the scene itself." But all 29 (allegedly) en route as one might eat polo mints on a hike?

  10. Felix, it should also be noted that the co-proxamol in Mrs Kelly's store were prescription drugs and as such the blister packs would have been contained in packets with her name on (an absolute legal requirement). Dr Kelly thoughtfully replaced the blister packs in his pocket, after cleaning the packs of his fingerprints. But what did he do with the outer packaging?!?

  11. this is certainly very confusing...when did this take place? has it been resolved? oh, and WHERE did this take place?

  12. Anonymous, I am a bit confused by your comment but thank you anyway. I don't know if you landed on this page by sheer chance and are unaware of the mystery surrounding the death of Dr Kelly. An introductory summary can be found at

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