Sunday, 16 September 2012

Dave Bartlett at the Inquiry

The second member of the ambulance team, Dave Bartlett, gave his evidence immediately after the testimony of his colleague Vanessa Hunt had been heard.

MR KNOX: My Lord, the next witness is Mr Bartlett. 
Examined by MR KNOX
Q. Mr Bartlett, what is your full name? 

A. David Ian Bartlett.
Q. And what is your occupation?
A. Ambulance technician.
Q. And who are you employed by?
5. Oxford Ambulance.
Q. And you are based at?
A. Abingdon.
Q. Abingdon ambulance station?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you on duty on the early morning of 18th July?
A. Yes.
Q. And what time did you get in?
A. 0700 hours.
Q. What is the number of the ambulance you were working in that day; can you remember?
A. I cannot remember to be honest without going back to the computer readouts. We use so many different ones.
Q. If I say number 934, does that sound right?

A. Could be, yes.

I stand to be corrected on this but I think that the different terms "paramedic" and "ambulance technician" came into being as a result of a set-to between the ambulance drivers and the then Tory government, the latter in the form of the Health Secretary Ken Clarke.  There's no doubt that Mr Bartlett was highly experienced in his profession but that he would have to defer to Ms Hunt.  Even if technically incorrect the ambulance team are commonly referred to as "the paramedics".

We don't know how Mr Knox knew that the ambulance was 'number 934'  but the patient report form seems to me to be the most likely source of that information.  Subsequent to the Hutton Inquiry and Report a press report revealed that the patient report form that the paramedics would have completed on 18 July had gone missing. 

Q. Do you remember what happened about 20 to 10?
A. Yes, we had a call to attend the Longworth area and on the way there -- excuse me, I have a bad cold --
LORD HUTTON: Yes, do you have a glass of water there? That might help.
A. Yes. We got an update saying it was a male query kilo 1 which as my colleague explained is a person presumed dead.
MR KNOX: You say you got an update, was that?
A. On the computer readout in the ambulance.
Q. That meant what?
A. They had come across a body or a body had been reported and had not been certified but presumed dead.
Q. Can you remember when you arrived at the place you were going to?
A. The time?
Q. Yes, the time.
A. 9.55.
Q. That was at Harrowdown Hill, is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Off Tucks Lane?
A. Yes.
Q. What happened when you arrived?
A. We parked at the end of the lane where there were some cars already parked, a lot of police officers there. We asked one police officer who directed us to the police that were in the combat uniforms and they asked us to bring some equipment and follow them down into the woods. 

Fifteen minutes to get to Harrowdown Hill from Abingdon ambulance station seems reasonable to me.  We don't know how soon after setting off that they were updated about the patient they were going to see.  

As with Vanessa Hunt Mr Bartlett mentions the presence of a lot of police officers when they arrive at the bottom of the lane.

Q. And you did that?
A. Yes. We took a defib monitor with us and our own personal kit.
Q. You walked down into the woods, is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. What did you eventually come across?
A. We got to the end of the lane, there were some more police officers there. I think it was two or three, I cannot remember, I think it was two, took us up into the woods which was like right angles to the track. As we walked up they were in front of us putting the marker posts in and told us to stay between the two posts.
Q. So you stayed between the two posts and carried on presumably?
A. Yes.

Although it's unfortunate that Dave Bartlett is unsure about the number of police officers seen at the end of the lane it's understandable that there is this uncertainty.  Exact numbers of personnel wouldn't be relevant to the medical evidence he had to recall in my opinion.

There is further confirmation of the common approach path being staked out.  By saying that they were asked to stay between the two posts leads one to think that Sawyer would have been putting the metal stakes in on one side of the path and Franklin on the other.

Q. What did you then come across?
A. They led us up to where the body was laid, feet facing us, laid on its back, left arm out to one side (indicates) and the right arm across the chest.
Q. What about the hands? Did you notice anything about the position of the hands? 

A. It was slightly wrist up, more wrist up than down.
Q. What about the right arm?
A. That was across the chest, palm down.

This description of arm and wrist positions, as might be expected, matches that given by Ms Hunt.

Q. Did you notice any injuries?
A. Just some dried blood across the wrist.
Q. Which wrist would that be?
A. The left wrist.
Q. What about the face? Did you notice anything about the face?
A. Yes, going from the corners of the mouth were two stains, one slightly longer than the other.
Q. Where did the stains go to from the mouth?
A. Towards the bottom of the ears.

I have been somewhat perplexed about the fact that the paramedics reported the dried blood on the left arm or wrist but seemed oblivious of the several wrist wounds later described by Dr Hunt.  It's possible that a scene setter added further incisions after the ambulance crew left the scene.  But also consider this: with the left arm out to the left or outstretched to the left the wrist wouldn't be in the direct line of vision of anyone concentrating on checking for signs of life (A paramedic would I think check the carotid pulse in the neck, as happened here, rather than the wrist for a pulse).  

We also know that the cutting left the radial artery untouched.  In other words the incisions were biased towards the little finger (or ulnar artery) side of the wrist.  With an arm outstretched the natural position of the wrist is more up than down with the little finger side of the wrist far less prominent than the thumb side.  Thus, it might be argued that it wasn't too surprising for the paramedics to miss seeing the incisions although any blood would be far more obvious.

The fact that the left arm was outstretched to the left when seen by the paramedics is very odd to me particularly when both Dr Hunt and Mr Green see it bent at the elbow.  This discrepancy will be explored in detail later.  Imagine a scene setter has more work to do on the left wrist but knows that the ambulance team is on its way.  Laying the left arm out to the left with the wrist partly turned down might be seen as a good move for the time that the paramedics are at the scene.. 

Q. Did you check for a pulse?
A. Yes, checked the carotid pulse, also pupil reaction. 

Q. The pupils of the eyes that is?
A. Yes, and then my colleague placed the two paddles across  the chest and in between times the police were taking photographs.
Q. Can I just check, did the police take photographs before or after --
A. Before. Every time we did something they took another photograph.
Q. Your colleague was Ms Hunt who we have just heard?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you feel the skin of the body at all?
A. Yes, it was pale and clammy.
Q. You mentioned the injury to the wrist. You saw some blood, did you?
A. There was dried blood across the top, yes.
Q. Was that congealed or not?
A. I did not touch it. It was dried, it started to crack like when it goes dry.

This exchange demonstrates the deviousness of counsel at the Inquiry.  Mr Knox said: 'You mentioned the injury to the wrist' .  When the previous section of reproduced text is read it can be seen that Mr Bartlett did NOT mention the injury to the wrist, he merely referred to the dried blood across the wrist.

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.
Q. What type of a knife was it?
A. I think it was one of those silver quite flat ones with like a curved blade, more like a pruning knife. 

It was also Mr Knox who failed to ask Ms Holmes 'Did you see any items next to the body?'  The bottle was eventually found to be 22% full so either Mr Bartlett failed to notice this or water was added later.  To be fair he thinks it was empty so there is a degree of uncertainty in his reply.

Q. What clothes was the man wearing?
A. It was a dark coloured jacket, sort of a wax type jacket, striped shirt, blue and white striped shirt, and I think it was jeans.
Q. And was the top button done up on the shirt or undone?
A. No, I think the top one was undone.
Q. Did you notice any other items of clothing nearby?
A. There was a cap ...(Pause). Yes, there was a flat cap on the left of the body, near the head end.

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.

Quite specific about the size of the right knee bloodstain.

Q. Did you yourself do anything to the body?
A. I unbuttoned the shirt as my colleague was putting the electrodes on, and moved the right arm up so we could get the electrode down the bottom.
Q. And once the electrodes had been put on was any activity noticed?
A. No, no. It was just -- no output or anything.
Q. And what about -- was there any heart activity or anything like that?
A. No, nothing.
Q. Did you have the ability to print out the results on the spot?
A. Yes, I believe my colleague printed three strips out and gave those to the police. 

Q. And were any alterations made to the printouts?
A. Yes, the time that is printed on the machine because they are the never the right time. We always write the time across the top of them.
Q. What was the time that the printout showed before you made the alteration?
A. I cannot remember because the colleague made the time.  It is usually an hour out.

Q. So you put it back or forward an hour to get the right time?
A. Yes, one or the other.
Q. You checked that against what? How did you know you were putting the right time on?
A. Against our watches.
Q. Can you remember at what time death was pronounced?
A. (Pause). No, I did not actually make a note of the time. It would have been what was wrote on the strips.
Q. It was noted on the strips?
A. Yes.

Apart from the time being written on the strips it would surely be recorded on the patient report form ... the form that was to go missing.  If it was on the PRF then it's arguable that the paramedics wouldn't have been too concerned to mention it (the time) in their police witness statements. 

Q. How long were you at the scene altogether?
A. 5 to 10 minutes.
Q. Once the printouts had been done, what did you do with them?
A. The police officer took some more pictures and then they told us to go back down through the marker posts to the main track.
Q. Sorry, through the same track you had come up?
A. Yes.
Q. Then you go back there to the ambulance; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. When you left were the electrodes still on the body or had they been taken off?
A. No, we left the electrodes on, just removed the wires.
Q. Was there any reason for that?
A. We just -- we always just leave them on. 

Q. And then what did you do after that? You went to the ambulance, did you?
A. We went back up to the ambulance and the police just asked us to check the young lady who had actually found the body but she was fine. They said she was a bit shaken but we had a chat with her and she was fine.

Confirmation that Louise Holmes was still at the parking area when the paramedics returned to the ambulance and didn't appear to have suffered anything very much in the way of delayed shock.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly's death?
A. Just the same as my colleague actually, we was surprised there was not more blood on the body if it was an arterial bleed.
MR KNOX: Thank you very much.
LORD HUTTON: Thank you very much indeed Mr Bartlett.

Mr Dingemans had to spend some time getting to the point with Ms Hunt that she hadn't examined the ground for blood after she had expressed surprise at not seeing more of it.  I think it was very wise of Mr Knox not to pursue the matter when Mr Bartlett makes a similar comment.      

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