Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Death of David Kelly - The 29 co-proxamol tablets and less than 500ml of water

Brian Spencer has made, to my mind, a hugely important observation. So far as I'm aware nobody had drawn serious attention to this potentially crucially important observation before.

Or, at least, they haven't begun to ask some pivotal questions as Brian's observation relates to the conclusion of suicide reached at the Hutton Inquiry.

Brian's post is here: The Evian Water Bottle.

Why do I think it's so important?

It's important because it casts serious doubt on the two most important "causes of death" in the suicide conclusion of the Hutton Inquiry.

It casts serious doubt on the supposed serious haemorrhage from the ulnar artery and it also casts serious doubt about the supposed ingestion of 29 co-proxamol tablets.

How can such a simple observation about the size of a bottle of water have such far reaching implications?

Quite simple, really. If you are to swallow 29 fairly big tablets you'll need a substantial volume of water to swallow them. Equally, if you're bleeding to death over a number of hours, you're going to get thirstier and thirstier. You'll have a very strong drive to replace the fluid you're losing.

The bottle is variously described in the oral evidence to Hutton as 300ml or 500ml or "half a litre".

To be kind to the suicide hypothesis let's assume, for the moment, that the capacity of the bottle is 500ml.

Let's also be kind to the suicide hypothesis and assume that Dr. Kelly hadn't drunk at all from the bottle before he reached the scene where his body was found.

We know, from the evidence of Dr. Allan (transcript of oral evidence on the morning of Wednesday 3rd September 2003, that there was still water left in the bottle. On pages 15 and 16 we read:

14 A. In the period up to the end of July there were
15 additional analyses carried out.
16 Q. Was there anything significant you found in those
17 analyses?
18 A. Those analyses confirmed my original findings, the
19 Coproxamol overdose, and they entirely support my
20 original conclusions.
21 Q. Was there anything which shed further light on your
22 conclusions or was it simply confirmatory?
23 A. It was confirmatory. What I also did was I looked at
24 the water which was found at the scene, or the contents
25 of the water bottle that was found at the scene.

1 Q. What did you find in that?
2 A. I found traces of dextropropoxyphene in that.
3 Presumably that would come from someone contacting the
4 bottle with saliva in the bottle. We did not find
5 anything else of note in there. It may be that
6 paracetamol was in there as well but the tests are not
7 sensitive enough to detect the traces of paracetamol
8 that may have been present.
9 Q. Was there anything else you examined apart from the
10 water bottle and the items you have so far mentioned?
11 A. I did not, as far as I am aware. I am just checking.
12 I did not analyse any other exhibits, no.

Typical of the slapdash approach at the Hutton Inquiry, nobody asks or states what the volume of the water was which was left in the bottle.

It isn't hard for you to find a 500ml bottle of water. They are suprisingly small, if you're contemplating taking 29 tablets, even if you're not averse to taking tablets.

To put it simply, I don't believe that I nor David Kelly could swallow 29 co-proxamol tablets using less than 500ml of water.

How many could he swallow? ... I would like to avoid being drawn into speculation - there is already too much speculation in Dr. Nicholas Hunt's postmortem for my taste.

But you want a number of how many co-proxamol tablets David Kelly is likely to have swallowed using that amount of water. I'd guess 8 co-proxamol tablets. Maybe a maximum of 10.

If, as I believe, it's not possible for David Kelly to have swallowed the postulated overdose of 29 co-proxamol tablets using the available supply of water, serious doubt is raised about the suicide hypothesis.

In addition, if (as we are asked to believe) he was bleeding from an ulnar artery incision or incisions to the point where death resulted, that must have arisen from a lengthy period of slow blood loss.

During that period he would have become thirsty.

I find it inexplicable that he, in those circumstances, would have failed to drink any water left in the tiny bottle available to him.

In my view, with a maximum of 500ml of water available to him, it is not credible to find remaining water in a situation where it is assumed he bled extensively over a long period.

I conclude that suicide as expressed in the Hutton Report did not happen.


  1. Andrew

    You highlighted the retrospective statement about Dr Kelly's handedness. A similar retrospective report,made between the Hutton Inquiry and the publicatin of the report, which you have obviously noticed, related to the batch numbering of Co-proxamol taken from Harrowdown Hill and from Mrs Kelly's house. The DC at Long Hanborough noticed that the numbers on the foil side were identical (but not significant).
    One thought - was the matching foil serial number from Harrowdown Hill from the one remaining tablet? I am speculating, of course.

  2. PS to the above

    I find the November 2003 report about the batch numbering,on second thought, rather strange. In a normal police investigation, the coinciding batch numbers of co-proxamol taken from each location would have been noticed and noted almost immediately.
    I suspect that before the Hutton Inquiry it became apparent that the batch numbers were of no use in determining the 3 blister packs' origin as being from Mrs Kelly's medicine cabinet (aside from the fact that this prescription drug could be proven to be missing)because of the huge batch-1.6 million. Otherwise the fact of the identical batch numbers would have been raised I am sure at the Inquiry, tending to support the suicide verdict.
    So why the subsequent "chance observation" at Long Hanborough, reported on November 11th but apparently noticed on August 7? Was this to allay suspicion that in the Inquiry the matter had not been explored? In the end,the numbers proved nothing, so they could have come from Mrs Kelly or from another source. Norman Baker just notes that these were police investigations, but apparently retrospective ones. Interestingly, Lord Hutton in Chapter 5 of his report, para 147,twists this equivocal letter from Long Hanborough into the phrase "It also appears probable that the Coproxamol tablets which Dr Kelly took just before his death came from a store of those tablets which Mrs Kelly, who suffered from arthritis, kept in their home."
    Lord Hutton fails to note that the statement from Long Hanborough was about a month and a half after the witnesses could have been questioned on the batch numbers.
    This seems to me to be stretching probability to say it was probable.
    One more point which Norman Baker makes. He is not a toxicologist but I suspect he researched the matter. He says that Co-proxamol poisoning is associated early on with convulsions. Might one expect a certain type of body configuration with co-proxamol poisoning ? It doesn't seem to me,as a non-expert, that it might produce a peaceful kind of death.

  3. Felix,

    See my new post about the possible misinterpretation by DC Eldridge.

    He may not have matched "batch numbers" at all!