Saturday, 9 April 2011

The bloodstain on Dr Kelly's jeans

A particularly fascinating piece of evidence aired at the Hutton Inquiry but not receiving a lot of attention subsequently concerns the bloodstain on the right hand knee of Dr Kelly's jeans.  This is what various witnesses said about it:

PC Sawyer examined by Mr Knox
Q. What about on his face, were there any marks or stains on his clothes?
A. His jeans -- he was wearing jeans, they were pulled up slightly, exposing the lower half of his leg or his ankle. It looked as if he had slid down and his trousers had ridden up. I believe on the right-hand knee there was a patch of what I took to be blood, but I do not know what it was, but it had the appearance of blood.
Q. Did he still have his jacket on?
A. Yes.
Q. Were there any marks on the jacket, as far as you could see?
A. No, only the blood from his wrist.

Any other blood on the clothing must have been inconsequential I would think from that description.  It must be remembered too that PC Sawyer took a number of photographs with his digital camera and that might have given him extra cause to notice any further bloodstaining.

Paramedic Vanessa Hunt examined by Mr Dingemans
Q. And is there anything else that you know of about the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death that you can assist his Lordship with?
A. Only that the amount of blood that was around the scene seemed relatively minimal and there was a small patch on his right knee, but no obvious arterial bleeding. There was no spraying of blood or huge blood loss or any obvious loss on the clothing.

This is close to what PC Sawyer is saying, Ms Hunt though qualifies the patch of blood by calling it 'small'.

Ambulance Technician Dave Bartlett examined by Mr Knox 
Q. And were there any stains on the clothes? 
A. Not that I could see apart from on the deceased's right knee, there was a bloodstain about 25 mm across.
Q. When you say on the right knee, you mean on the trousers?
A. Yes, on the right knee of the trousers.

Roy Green, forensic biologist, examined by Mr Dingemans
Q. Did you make any other relevant discoveries while you were looking around the area?
A. There was an obvious large contact bloodstain on the knee of the jeans.
Q. What do you mean by a "contact bloodstain"?
A. A contact stain is what you will observe if an item has come into contact with a bloodstained surface, as opposed to blood spots and splashes when blood splashes on to an item.
Q. Which means at some stage his left wrist must have been in contact with his trousers?
A. No, what I am saying, at some stage he has knelt -- I believe he has knelt in a pool of blood at some stage and this obviously is after he has been injured.

I'm critical of Mr Green here.  I've covered this part of his evidence before:  I will just reiterate a point from that earlier post, by saying that the contact stain was large my impression would be of blood covering the right knee cap of the trousers.  Why didn't he give some sort of measurement?  Thank goodness for the ambulance crew on this.

As the "expert" on blood splashing etc Mr Green might be expected to proffer an explanation as to how this contact bloodstain originated.  In reality what he is saying is speculative and he is relying in my opinion on the "official" explanation as to how Dr Kelly came by his demise.  Mr Green should have qualified his evidence at this point - it is not for him to assume that Dr Kelly committed suicide at Harrowdown Hill!  I don't regard him as a competent witness. 

Dr Hunt, forensic pathologist, examined by Mr Knox
Q. What about the bloodstains on the clothes, did you notice any of them? 
A. Yes, there were a number of areas of bloodstaining on the clothes, including over the front of the shirt, over the Barbour jacket itself, including in the sleeve of the Barbour jacket on the left.
Q. And what about around the trousers or the legs?
A. Yes, there was some bloodstaining over the trousers; and, in particular, there was a patch of bloodstaining over the right knee.

It will be noticed that Dr Hunt also fails to give any sort of measurement of the bloodstain on the knee of the jeans.  He also fails to indicate that it is a contact bloodstain.  In his now published report, which ought to be more definitive, again no measurement just  'a heavier patch of bloodstaining over the right knee area' where he describes "Bloodstaining and contamination on clothing".  He also mentions 'Also in this area was greenish material'  Was the greenish material sampled and tested by Mr Green or Dr Hickey?  If not, why not.  Also in the "clothing" part of his report we learn that 'there was a patch of light bloodstaining over the inner aspect of the right knee'.

When the ambulance crew were interviewed in "The Observer" of 12 December 2004 this is one of Vanessa Hunt's comments:

'There was no gaping wound... there wasn't a puddle of blood around. There was a little bit of blood on the nettles to the left of his left arm. But there was no real blood on the body of the shirt. The only other bit of blood I saw was on his clothing. It was the size of a 50p piece above the right knee on his trousers.' 

It can be seen that this bears out what Dave Bartlett said at the Inquiry regarding the size of the bloodstain.  I've said it before but it's worth repeating; the ambulance crew proved themselves to be very competent and professional witnesses.  It seems to me that Mr Green and Dr Hunt left a lot to be desired regarding their testimonies.

One other point from that quote by Vanessa Hunt.  She is even more specific - she says it was above the right knee of the trousers.  Although the pathologist's report was deficient we must give Dr Hunt his due in recording that the right leg of the jeans was pulled up to just above the ankle.  Therefore it is possible that with the trousers hanging normally the bloodstain would have been over the kneecap area.  If Dr Kelly had been kneeling in a pool of blood I would have expected that the bloodstain would show up just below the knee.  Did Mr Green really perform a critical analysis on the origin of this blood?  I suspect that he didn't.

Now I can't suggest how this contact bloodstain happened.  But if Dr David Kelly was murdered and his body then brought to Harrowdown Hill it would open the way for all sorts of scenarios that weren't considered by the Inquiry as to its origin.  And it was never confirmed that it actually was blood or that it came from Dr Kelly.  The same comment applies to all of the "blood" at the scene.


  1. Brian,

    Mr. Green seemed to discount the possibility that Dr. Kelly's left wrist was in contact with his right knee area.

    That would be consistent with bracing position (c) in my recent post: The Death of Dr. David Kelly - Important technical questions about the knife, wound etc.

    If bracing position (c) was used I would expect a contact blood stain above the right knee.

    Why might Mr. Green have tried to dismiss that possibility?

    One explanation is that if bracing position (c) was used I would expect evidence of arterial rain to the right of the body but the documented evidence of arterial rain is on nettles to the left of the body.

  2. Brian,

    I'm having trouble visualising what Vanessa Hunt is referring to in this quote: "But there was no real blood on the body of the shirt.".

    It's from the article Kelly death paramedics query verdict of December 2004.

    I wondered if it should have read "or" the shirt. If that were the case then the following reference to "clothing" presumably means "outer clothing" i.e. Barbour jacket and jeans.

  3. Mr Green is talking nonsense. It seems highly surprising that the kneeling action only caused staining on one knee. Was there blood on the soles of Dr Kelly's shoes?
    I wonder what tests were made on exhibits NCH/4 Right shoe and NCH/5 Left shoe? eg soil/vegetation from an an area dissimilar to Harrowdown Hill, blood stains?

  4. Felix,

    It's possible that Mr Green is correct.

    I appreciate that Mr. Green's suggestion is speculative but Dr. Kelly could have knelt on one knee (the "bended knee" to make a marriage proposal position).

    In that scenario your question about whether or not blood was found on the soles of Dr. Kelly's shoes is a very relevant one - particularly with respect to the sole of the left shoe.

    If Dr. Kelly knelt on one knee (the right) then the sole of the left foot would have been on the ground.

  5. Whilst having a look at Dr Hunt's report on bloodstaining on Dr Kelly's clothing, I noticed a very curious paragraph....
    Lying near his left hand, on the grass, was a black resin-strapped wristwatch, presumably a digital watch, lying face down and showing some bloodstaining."

    Obviously somebody did pick it up as an exhibit at some stage and examine the face.
    DC Coe, immediately preceding Dr Hunt at the Hutton Inquiry announces that the face-down watch was a digital watch. How did he know? Why did Dr Hunt presume it was a digital watch? DC Coe left Harrowdown Hill when the ambulance arrived and oversaw the searching of Westfield the next day. As we know it carried no fingerprints and the police never established whose watch it was !!!

  6. Felix, your points raised about the watch are very interesting! From PC Franklin's evidence (page 42) we find out that the watch was one of the items retrieved by the SOCOs as indeed were the other exhibits that were off the body. My guess is that Dr Hunt would have picked up the watch to examine it (after it had been photographed in situ) or at least he should have, particularly as it had blood on it. But why as you point out use the word 'presumably'?

    From ACC Page's first visit to the Inquiry we learn that the watch was one of many items swabbed (Page 30, line 3)

    I am very clear that items found in the pockets of clothes worn by Dr Kelly were in the exhibits listed by Dr Hunt but that anything detached from the body such as the watch were SOCO exhibits. As I say though Dr Hunt should have made some sort of examination of the various blood stained items before they were bagged up and numbered by a SOCO.

    I've just looked at DC Coe's evidence and can't find any comment about it being a digital watch, it's possible he mentioned the fact in his 2010 newspaper interview which I must read again. PCs Franklin and Sawyer refer to the watch in their respective testimonies but without qualification so far as I can see as to type of watch.

    Yet another missed question at the Inquiry was to ask Mrs Kelly about which wrist the watch would normally be on.

  7. Following on from Felix's observations about the watch and my response it seems that, in his report, Dr Hunt was recording what he saw close to the body before he possibly picked the items up to look more closely at them. Now that is right in my opinion to faithfully record the exact circumstances at the scene as part of his report.

    As a forensic pathologist he should be as precise as possible in his reporting. There was absolutely no requirement in my view to speculate about the type of watch when, on further examination, he could be definitive. But Dr Hunt seems to be a "speculation junkie".

    In his report Dr Hunt makes the remark about removal of the watch when the blood is flowing and speculates that it's removal together with Dr Kelly's spectacles were indicators of self harm. So why didn't he go into more detail about the distribution of blood on the watch? Was the blood on the back of the watch, the face, the strap? Why aren't we told the specifics?

  8. Sorry Brian , it was Dr Hunt whose told the Hutton Inquiry that it WAS a digital watch. (DC Coe's evidence was so short I didn't realise Dr Hunt had taken the stand!) This is what Dr Hunt says:
    In the region of his left hand lying on the grass there was a black resin strapped wristwatch, a digital watch, which was also bloodstained.
    Q. Was the watch face up or face down?
    A. It was face down.

    So, why did he only presume a digital watch on 19th/25th July?

  9. Felix, if Dr Hunt wasn't so keen on making presumptions it would make our lives a lot easier!

    This is my interpretation: in his report he covers the different objects that are close to the body describing them as he originally sees them and before he handles them. I believe that ought to be the correct procedure. At that moment he is speculating on the sort of watch, which shouldn't go into his report in my opinion.

    By the time he gives his verbal evidence he has examined the watch and ascertained that it is indeed a digital watch. It would have been much better if he hadn't made the comment about presuming it was a digital model. I would instead have added in brackets words such as "this was subsequently examined and found to be a digital watch and was still working and showing the correct time".

    Sadly this indicates yet again the sloppy approach to his work by Dr Hunt.

  10. "Lying near his left hand, on the grass, was a black resin-strapped wristwatch, presumably a digital watch, lying face down and showing some bloodstaining"
    What grass???
    There was no grass growing in the wood under the tree where Dr Kelly was found!
    Can we really believe anything that these clowns are telling us?