Tuesday, 9 May 2017

"Utterly impossible" to reconstruct where, when and by whom items found

[What follows is excerpted from a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2000:]

Tiny fragments of the suitcase suspected by police to have contained the bomb which destroyed Pan Am 103 were still being found months after the aircraft was blown up.

The fifth day of the Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands has heard that thousands of items were sifted through for signs of blast damage.

In the spring and summer of 1989, officers returned to specific search areas and turned up more evidence. (...)

Teams of officers sorted and examined 40,000 pieces for signs of unusual damage. They were labelled and stored according to the search sector in which they were found.

DC McInnes identified items he had discovered from his work inside the hanger in March 1989.

They included blast-damaged fragments of a brown suitcase and burnt pieces of material about an inch square.

He then identified other items he found when further outdoor searches were conducted in Newcastleton forest in the April and May of that year.

They included more tiny pieces of a brown suitcase, possibly Samsonite.
He had labelled one find as "rubber trim, copper-coloured, possibly from the bomb case". (...)

Cross-examined, DC McInnes acknowledged that the sheer volume of wreckage, plus erratic police labelling, meant expert guesswork was sometimes used to locate evidence and date its discovery retroactively.

He told defence counsel Bill Taylor that in the weeks following the disaster, trucks filled with wreckage arrived at a warehouse where an initial reconstruction of the plane was made.

Not every individual piece was labelled by waves of police conducting fingertip "line searches" over vast stretches of open country, forest and farmland, and some paper labels were washed out or dissolved by rain.

The detective agreed that it was now "utterly impossible" to reconstruct where, when and by whom individual pieces were found and admitted a description of another piece was written over type-correcting fluid covering words no longer legible.

Another officer, Thomas Gilchrist, admitted under cross-examination by defence advocate Richard Keen, that a description on one label which was shown magnified on a courtroom imager might possibly have been changed from "clothes" to "debris".

No comments:

Post a Comment