When a forensic pathologist arrives at the scene of a suspicious death my guess is that it isn't long before they get stuck right in to the examination. Of course it is very much in the interest of the police that the pathologists work is completed as soon as possible: the police will surely want some indication of time of death and if there is evidence of foul play for example.
On Friday 18th July 2003 at Harrowdown Hill things seem to have gone in a different direction. Just after midday Dr Hunt meets DI Ashleigh Smith and a couple of SOCOs. Acting principal SOCO Mark Schollar gives Dr Hunt some background information and Dr Hunt is shown a scene video which takes the viewer along the common approach path, the body of the deceased is seen, also the knife and wristwatch. It's at about this time that the officer in charge of the investigation, DCI Alan Young arrives on site and he and Dr Hunt have a discussion. I'm guessing now but it might have been during the course of their chat that the decision was made to call out a forensic biologist (Roy Green). It will be recalled that Mr Green received a request to attend at about "dinner time".
Here is part of the testimony from Dr Hunt at the Inquiry:
MR KNOX: When you went up to the body did you begin to examine it straight away?
A. Yes, from the point of view of looking at the body rather than touching anything at that stage.
Q. And were you able to confirm that the body was dead?
Q. Can you recall at what time you did that?
A. 12.35 hours is the time I noted as having confirmed the fact of death.
Q. And after that, did anything happen at the scene immediately after that?
A. Yes, after that there was a fingertip search conducted by police of the common approach path, and the view taken was that we would await the arrival of the scientist, the biologist and his assistant from the laboratory.
The delay in starting the body examination can be interpreted in different ways - perhaps they thought it better for the fingertip search of the common approach path to be done first or maybe, and more logically in my opinion, if Dr Hunt and Mr Green were looking to work alongside each other then starting at the same time might make sense. We are told that the area around the body was taped off and, in his report, Dr Hunt confirms that during the whole time he was at the immediate scene he was dressed in his forensic gear. This then would include that initial approach to the body to confirm death. I suppose it is routine for a pathologist to himself confirm death even though the police in our case had the print outs from the ambulance crew that most certainly had confirmed death had occurred. It wasn't until 12.50 (PC Franklin's evidence) that DCI Young made the request for the fingertip search, so 15 minutes after Dr Hunt had confirmed death.
It was at about 14.10 that Dr Hunt and Mr Green crossed the inner cordon to get down to their serious work. So it seems that Dr Hunt had about one and a half valuable hours of thinking time before Mr Green turned up. Of course he might have disappeared to the pub for a pie and a pint but doesn't record going in or out of the outer cordon at this time. More likely perhaps to have gone back to his car for a couple of sandwiches and cup of coffee. Anyway he appears to have had ample time to look at the whole scene, to make a few measurements perhaps and to try and puzzle out what happened.
But did he use the time well? After the forensic photos were taken he could have taken Dr Kelly's rectal temperature - he wouldn't have needed Mr Green's expertise for that. Did he look at any of the nearby vegetation for blood deposits? He doesn't mention the stinging nettles in his report whereas Vanessa Hunt, on site for a much shorter time, notes the blood on the nettles. What about the small Evian bottle of water close to Dr Kelly's head and barely reachable? Why does he appear disinterested in the water bottle? He doesn't say anything about the water left in it in his report and at the Inquiry can't remember how much this was (for his information the easily recalled figure of 111 ml).
The fact that the body was flat on its back doesn't seem to occasion any surprise to him. The choice by the mature and well educated Dr Kelly of one hard to reach ulnar artery to cut doesn't cause Dr Hunt to pause and wonder about that selection. Did he ever consider that this might be a murder made to look like suicide?
What was Dr Hunt thinking in that one and a half hour time window before Mr Green arrived?