I usually centre my blog around current affairs & internal Westminster squabbles that mean absolutely nothing to those who don’t care (or care to the same sad degree) for politics. But I wanted to use this article to highlight a real and relatively overlooked case of injustice. The words whitewash and cover up are often kicked about to condone unsatisfactory inquiries (or to attack any solution that doesn’t fit the noisy minorities’ anti-establishment narrative), but this incident really is worthy of every cliche label I can think of.
The case concerns the disappearance and alleged suicide of a 13 year old girl from Devon. Though I fear I may have already made my position on the cases’ official judgments clear, I will try and relay the facts to you exactly as the investigators have concluded them (though I emphasise the word try, as there are so many inaccuracies and loose ends that deteriorating into a rant often proves inevitable).
The girl in question – I will call her Kate for simplicities sake – disappeared at around 5pm on a Thursday evening. By disappeared, I mean voluntarily left her house to walk to a nearby beach, as she often did in the evenings.
Her mother – Mrs. D – testifies that such walks normally lasted around 20-30 minutes, and so she grew concerned when Kate had not returned after 90.
At 9pm, 4 hours after Kate left home, and multiple searches of the house and surrounding area had been conducted by Mrs. D and her partner, Kate was reported missing to the police (though it is interesting to note that official records state the investigation into Kate’s death began at 4:30pm that Thursday – almost 5 hours before the police were notified, and half an hour before Kate had even left home for her walk).
Upon their arrival the police conducted another thorough search of the house & garden, as procedure dictates, and questioned the present family members. Less than an hour after that, before they began searching the surrounding area, before they followed Kate’s usual route, and before they even attempted to ring Kate’s mobile phone (which they failed to do throughout the course of the investigation), they decided to conduct another search of the house; this time with a sniffer dog in tow – which is notably not the usual procedure at such an early stage. Kate’s mother, the person with the greatest knowledge of the house and of the victim, was made to wait outside.
At around 7am the next morning, two local volunteers who had been helping the police with their search stumbled upon Kate’s body on a sheltered footpath near the beach. The pair immediately walked back up the path, where they conveniently found two police officers, whom they informed of their discovery. One officer waited by the body, while the other officer & the two volunteers went to alert the rest of the search party.
The officer who remained on the beach was said to be alone with Kate’s body for no more than 35 minutes. In the resulting investigation (if you can call it that), the officer profusely denied that he tampered with the body or the scene in anyway. When asked specifics about what he saw the officer repeatedly declined to comment and claimed he ‘didn’t remember’ simple details, such as whether the body was layed on the floor or propped up against the rock, whether the volume of blood found at the scene was more or less than one would have expected, or even whether or not Kate was wearing a jacket. I am by no means suggesting that any grossly improper conduct took place during those 35 minutes, but surely the natural human reaction of anyone in that situation – especially a member of the police force – would be to observe the scene, and glance around the area immediately surrounding the body for any additional articles of evidence. I find it impossible to believe that the officer sat next to the body in silence for more than half an hour without looking at it long enough to observe its basic state and position.
The authorities then invite us to make further leaps of faith in regard to the condition of Kate’s body. The official cause of death was concluded to be a ‘haemorrhage’ caused by ‘incised wounds to the left wrist’, which may have been catalysed by an overdose of over-the-counter pain killers, the packets of which where found besides her body, along with a partially drunken bottle of Evian water.
However, the number of deaths apportioned to cut wrists is extremely low, despite the stereotypes, and the volume of blood found at the scene (a small patch besides Kate’s knee and a few smears on her belongings) is inconsistent with the amount of blood that would normally result from the haemorrhaging of a severed ulnar artery, which experts have alluded, rather graphically, to being like ‘the spray of a violent fountain’. The lack of blood would suggest that an alternative injury caused Kate’s death, or more sinisterly, that the fatal injury to her wrist was sustained somewhere other than the place her body was discovered.
The items found at the scene – or moreover the positioning of these items – are also contentious. The knife found next to the victim, presumably the one used to cut her wrist, was quickly identified as having come from Kate’s family home (as were the painkillers). However the bluntness and the shape of the knife appears to be inconsistent with such a clean, deep laceration.
Investigators and coroners alike have concluded that Kate’s cut was sustained before she took 29 of the 30 tablets found at the scene, as blood was found on both the water bottle and the empty blister packs. However the water bottle and drugs were both found to the left of Kate, so we are invited to believe that she opened and consumed 29 tablets and drank her water using the hand which, according to medical experts, should have been haemorrhaging and uncontrollably spraying with blood.
But what is more interesting about the bottle and tablets is the fact that around 300ml of the 500ml of water was left in the bottle when the police discovered Kate. We must therefore assume that she consumed 29 tablets with under 200ml of water – presuming none was sipped during her journey to the beach, or earlier in the summer’s day. It is conceivable that a person could just about manage this, if they were to take multiple tablets at once. But that seems unlikely in this instance, as two of Kate’s friends specifically recall that the victim had an aversion to swallowing pills (as well as noting that the friend they knew ‘was the last person I’d expect to ever commit suicide’, least of all using a method that would cause her severe discomfort).
The trouble the victim had with pills may have explained why trails of vomit were found coming out the corners of Kate’s mouth. This would be a satisfactory explanation, until you discover the fact that no vomit was actually found at the scene, nor was there any traces of it at Kate’s house. The likelihood of the vomit being a small puddle that could eroded by natural causes to the point it was untraceable to forensic experts has also been reduced by subsequent post-mortem examinations, as only half of the 29 pills Kate consumed were found in her stomach. This would suggest Kate suffered a substantial bout of sickness.
The trails of vomit on Kate’s face become more suspicious when you consider the fact they lead from mouth to ear, rather than mouth to chin, as you would expect vomit to flow from a person sitting upright, as Kate was when she was discovered. The sideways direction of the trails suggest the victim was laying down on her back (or of course that the laws of gravity were momentarily suspended). But even if this inconsistency could be explained, the whereabouts of the non existent, aerodynamic vomit still cannot.
Reading this account back, I am more than aware that most of the inconsistencies I’ve highlighted seem ridiculously trivial. Many may have entirely logical explanations: Kate could easily bought some more water. The officer could have been in a state of shock after seeing the body and thus have gaps in his memory. And the half an hour divergence in the police records could have been a typo.
But even if all the questions I’ve outlined could be accounted for, the fact that none of them were even asked during the ‘investigation’ into Kate’s death is unbelievable.
But what is more unbelievable is the fact that no investigation, in an official capacity, actually took place.
Instead of opening a standard criminal case to establish the circumstances and facts surrounding the incident, as with almost all deaths – suicide or not – the authorities dealt with Kate’s death through a generalised inquiry. I fail to see why the death of a single teenage girl, or anyone for that matter, should be remedied with the same procedure used to investigate collective issues: like missed hospital waiting times, free school meals, or MP’s expenses. And what is more, this spin doctor-y tactic instantly changed the whole narrative of the case to why Kate committed suicide, instead of establishing if it was suicide at all.
No rational person would call me a conspiracy theorist for questioning the circumstances and procedures surrounding 13 year old Kate’s death. At the very least, the case exposes incompetence on behalf of officers and a lack of sensitivity on behalf of those entrusted to obtain truth and justice. But at the very worst, the evidence (or lack of) suggests that Kate’s death was not suicide, and involved some degree of foul play
The facts of this case may be starting to sound a little familiar to those of you who also spend Saturday nights reading Tony Benn’s diaries or honing your detective skills watching true crime dramas on Channel 5.
So perhaps now would be the time to mention that Kate wasn’t 15 at the time of her death, but 59.
And that she happened to be a married microbiologist.
A microbiologist who used to to go by the name David.
When David Kelly was found dead in July 2003 the authorities, the media, and consequently the public treated what was – and still is – a personal tragedy as mere collateral damage in a much bigger series of events. The only real ‘investigation’ into Kelly’s death, the now infamous Hutton Inquiry, did not seek to establish how the victim died at all. From the onset it merely sought to manufacture reasons for Kelly’s suicide, the outcome that suited the security services pre-determined version of events (and Hutton still did a lousy job of that).
The premise of all the details I have used – bar the identity of the victim and the location – remain true, from the timescale to Kelly’s aversion to pills. If anything, I have been modest about the abnormality of the circumstances surrounding the incident. I’m sure if I had included the fact that two people who decided to independently investigate ‘Kate’s’ death had their laptops burgled (but interestingly not any money, jewellery, or either of their flatscreen TVs), and the contents of their computers mysteriously wiped by a ‘virus’, it would have made for a more convincing read. Perhaps if I’d mentioned that ‘Kate’s’ dentist had just the one patients dental records disappear in the 48 hours preceding her death, and conveniently returned thereafter, my argument wouldn’t be batted away with the mere mention of a name.
Today the name David Kelly has so many connotations attached to it that it’s almost impossible to view his death objectively. But I hope that by taking the circumstances of his death out of context I’ve come some way in highlighting how utterly bizarre the events of 2003 were. The death of an innocent man shouldn’t have been swallowed up by Blair’s Sedgemore State Circus & the whirlwind of the Iraq War. I’m not saying Alistair Campbell snuck into Kelly’s house and spoon fed him arsenic, but the fact were still no closer to, and perhaps even further from the truth, is more than alarming.
Okay, now you can call me conspiracy theorist.