Sunday, 9 September 2012

PC Franklin - the scene search

In the last post but one PC Franklin's evidence at the Inquiry had reached the point where the paramedics had left the scene, a common approach path established and the land rover driven up the track and into the field to the immediate east of the track which itself adjoins the east side of the wood on Harrowdown Hill.  In other words to the location seen in so many of the media pictures of that day.  The testimony continues:

Q. And do you see what happens when the senior officers arrive?
A. We were asked by the senior scenes of crime officer to search the common approach path; PC Sawyer and myself were.
Q. What does that involve?
A. A full search would involve hands and knees going through every piece of undergrowth and twig. I stated at the time that perhaps that was not prudent because there were only two of us, so we did a check rather than a full search of a common approach path. This would be for any obvious dropped articles.

Q. And was the other area searched?
A. Which area, sir?
Q. Which is not on the common approach path.
A. Not initially. You mean either side of the common approach path?
Q. Yes.
A. No.
Q. Do you know if that was ever searched?
A. It was searched. At 12.50 hours the same day I had a request from DCI Young to fingertip search the common approach path and either side. I decided as a police search adviser to do 10 metres either side of the common approach path at that time.

After one has deducted the time taken for the fairly cursory search of the common approach path it looks as if Franklin (and Sawyer) had the best part of two hours unaccounted for between the time the landrover was brought up the track and Franklin got his search instruction from DCI Young at 12.50.  Why didn't Dingemans ask Franklin what he and his colleague were doing during this time?

A more precise description of the area of the fingertip search will become evident when PC Sawyer's testimony is recorded.

Q. So did you do a fingertip search of the common approach path?
A. At 12.50 hours, yes. Not initially. The initial check was done by PC Sawyer and I.
Q. That is the initial check?
A. Yes.
Q. Later on you are asked to do a fingertip search?
A. Yes. A full search team come in to do that.
Q. What do you wear when you do that type of search?
A. We were dressed forensically, white paper suits, hoods up, masks, gloves, rubber gloves, and covering for our feet.
Q. When you first went into the wood is that what you were wearing?
A. No, we were dressed in summer search kit: black polo shirt, black trousers and our work boots.
Q. What, your initial search was carried out in the summer dress, was it?
A. In the summer search uniform. We had no forensic kit with us at the time.
Q. When the forensic kit arrives and you start doing the fingertip search, do you start on the common approach path?
A. I actually, as police search adviser, do not do the search; that was run by PC Sawyer. 

Q. You watched them all doing it for you?
A. Some of the time. As police search adviser I have to liaise with the senior officers about the policies for the search and what we hope to get out of it, so I was backwards and forwards.

I'm not clear about how the hierarchy works in Thames Valley Police: Sergeant Paul Woods was described by ACC Page as a qualified police search adviser. PC Franklin is also a police search adviser it seems.

Q. What were you hoping to get out of this search?
A. We have to speak to the DCI initially and he wanted us to look for -- if again I may refer to my notes -- medicine or pill bottles, pills, pill foils or any receptacle or bag that may contain medicines.
Q. You are doing a search for that. Are you also looking for anything else?
A. Yes. The police search teams I work with would pick up anything that would be dropped by a human or out of the ordinary. Those are the items that were just specified to us, but as a search team we tend to look for anything that should not be there.

These specific items that DCI Young suggested should be looked for are very interesting!  Why those in particular?  Perhaps the vomit on Dr Kelly's face had been noted suggesting an overdose.  Then there is this from ambulanceman Dave Bartlett in an interview with Antony Barnett for an article in The Observer of 12 December 2004: 

'I remember saying to one of the policemen it didn't look like he died from that [the wrist wound] and suggesting he must have taken an overdose or something else.' 

Perhaps that information was relayed back to DCI Young.  Perhaps certain members of TVP were aware that three pill packets were at the scene.  It had never been established in open court whether Mrs Kelly knew, or suspected, or really didn't know whether some of her medicine was missing.  Various possibilities to consider.  Neither Dingemans nor Hutton decided it was worth delving further.

Q. And having searched the common approach path, either side of the body was searched; is that right?
A. The common approach path was about 70 metres long. We searched 10 metres either side. Then we had a request to search 10 metres around the glade, if you like, the opening in the woodland where the body was.
Q. Do you know whether anything was located as a result of these fingertip searches?
A. Nothing.
Q. Do you know whether there were any signs of a struggle seen as a result of these fingertip searches?
A. No, there was no sign of an obvious struggle

Q. What time did you finish the searches that day?
A. The search of the common approach path and the area metres around the top of the body was concluded at 16.45 hours that day, but then we were given another task by the detective chief inspector.
Q. What was that other task?
A. The task was once the body had been removed for us to fingertip search the area inside the tape where the body was.
Q. Did you do that?
A. I changed search teams. PC Sawyer and I remained on site, as police search adviser and team leader, but I changed the search teams over and a new search team came in, again dressed forensically, to do that.
Q. They carried out a fingertip search of that area?
A. They started at 19.24 hours and finished at 19.45 hours. 

Q. Did they find anything?
A. Nothing.
Q. No sign of a struggle?

A. No.
Q. No other medicine bottles or anything?
A. No.

Another long break in the proceedings from 16.45 to 19.24 in which it isn't explained how Franklin and Sawyer occupy their time.  Franklin says nothing was found in the fingertip searches.  The officers searching on their hands and knees would  be very aware of any blood on the ground and vegetation ans so would PC Sawyer overseeing them I would have thought.  Those officers carrying out the final section of the search after 19.24 and seeing the blood were a new search team and as such would be unfamiliar with earlier proceedings; this might be significant.

Q. And do you recall what was retrieved from the scene?
A. That would have been retrieved by the scenes of crime officers. The actual scene where the body was was dealt with by them first, hence the reason we had to wait until nearly 7.30 in the evening to search the site. They would have retrieved the knife, the wrist watch and searched the body. That is not down to me and my team.
Q. They would have retrieved the knife, the wrist watch, the bottle of water and the bottle of tablets we are going to hear about?
A. Yes, I do not know about the bottle of tablets.

It has to be asked why Dingemans uses the phrase 'the bottle of tablets'.  Is he just naturally careless with detail like this?  It seems difficult to believe.  

Q. And is there anything else surrounding the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death that you can assist his Lordship with?
A. Not with this initial part, sir, no.

From PC Sawyer's evidence it's apparent that there was a thorough search of the Kelly home and grounds the next day and I think that Franklin was expecting to be questioned about this but for some reason he wasn't.

LORD HUTTON: Constable Franklin, after you and your colleague had found the body you then went back and other police officers arrived on the scene, is that right?
A. Are we talking initially, my Lord?
A. Initially it was just PC Sawyer and myself that went into the scene, but, yes, the whole search team would come up to a rendezvous point and be deployed by me from there.
LORD HUTTON: How soon did you return with the search team to the scene?
A. PC Sawyer and I left the scene and we returned with the vehicle minutes later. The search team did not attend until ...(Pause) About half past 12, I believe sir. The search itself did not start until 1 o'clock in the afternoon.
LORD HUTTON: I see, yes. You return with Constable Sawyer just within a matter of minutes.
A. Yes.
LORD HUTTON: Thank you very much indeed.
A. My Lord, thank you.
LORD HUTTON: Thank you. 

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