nquiry hears of Kelly's last hours
Iraq weapons specialist David Kelly was found slumped against a tree with his wrist slashed in woodland so dense and isolated that there were no signs of human life, the inquiry into his death has heard.
A volunteer dog handler searching for the missing scientist discovered his body in a glade surrounded by "almost impenetrable" brambles the morning after he left his Oxfordshire home to go for a walk.
Pc Martyn Sawyer, an officer involved in the search for evidence around Dr Kelly's body, said: "The area was remarkable for its complete lack of human interference.
Dr Kelly appeared to have gone as far as he could, some 50 to 70 yards, before the undergrowth became too dense, leant against a tree and cut his left wrist. Lying next to his body were a half-full bottle of Evian water, a three inch pruning knife covered in blood and Dr Kelly's wristwatch, which he had removed.
Eighteen hours earlier, Dr Kelly seemed cheerful as he paused to speak to an elderly neighbour as he left for his walk in what was to be his last conversation.
Ruth Absalom told the inquiry: "We stood there for a few moments and then Buster, my dog, was pulling on the lead, he wanted to get going. I said 'I will have to go, David'. He said 'See you again, then, Ruth'. And that was it, we parted."
Asked how the scientist had seemed, she said: "Just his normal self, no different to any other time when I met him."
Detective Sergeant Hugh Webb said he visited Dr Kelly's wife Janice and two of their three daughters, Sian and Rachel, at the family home in the village of Southmoor at around 7am the next morning to ask them about the scientist's disappearance.
"The Kelly family were very upbeat at the time," Det Sgt Webb said.
"They were very hopeful that no harm had come to Dr Kelly and they genuinely believed, I think, that probably he had become ill somewhere."
At the same time, a few miles away at Harrowdown Hill, the search for Dr Kelly had resumed after the night.
Louise Holmes, a dog handler working for South East Berkshire Emergency Volunteers, said her dog Brock picked up a scent 200 yards into woodland alongside Harrowdown Hill.
Miss Holmes said it was "something obviously not quite the same as a normal search or a normal training exercise" because instead of taking her to the scene, he laid down on the ground and looked at his owner.
She went deeper into the wood to investigate and saw the body of Dr Kelly, dressed casually in a shirt and jeans. Her fellow volunteer, Paul Chapman, hung back to prevent contaminating any forensic evidence.
"He was at the base of the tree with almost his head on his shoulders, just slumped back against the tree," Miss Holmes said of Dr Kelly.
"His legs were straight in front of him, his right arm was to the side of him, his left arm had a lot of blood on it and was bent back in a funny position."
Miss Holmes said she was convinced the body was that of the missing scientist, that he was dead "and there was nothing I could do to help him".
Pc Sawyer began taking photographs of the body and surrounding area which, inquiry counsel James Dingemans told Lord Hutton, were not being shown to the courtroom "for obvious reasons".
Two paramedics placed electrocardiogram pads on Dr Kelly's chest to check for signs of life, but there was none. He was pronounced dead at 10.07am.
The inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice also heard today from the scientist's GP Dr Malcolm Warner, who told the inquiry he had not prescribed any painkillers for Dr Kelly and had last treated him in 1999 for "a minor complaint" and had never treated him for any serious condition.
Asked by Peter Knox, junior counsel to the inquiry, if Dr Kelly had ever shown signs of depression in the 25 years he had been his patient, Dr Warner replied: "No."
The GP said nothing significant was found in a medical check Dr Kelly had received through his work on July 8.
©Copyright 2003, Telegraph (UK)
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