Monday, 26 January 2015

Willie Macrae Part 13: Gun – How It Got There

 

In Part 12, using only the police documents, we spent a long time looking at where the gun was found.  Here we have a short post which looks at the question,

 

How did the gun get into that part of the burn directly below the driver’s door?

 

Here I don’t consider the gun being in any position other than that specified in the question because my approach in these posts is to consider only the documents released by the police and the Crown Office.

 

This extract from Annex A is the only reference to the question I posed.

Part 13 Annex A E1

There is little evidence for me to consider here but these few words may have an importance which is not immediately obvious  …. or you may feel by the end that I have led you a merry, but unnecessary, dance.

 

What is clear immediately is that the police do NOT know how the gun actually got into the burn.  They were faced with the situation where the gun was in the burn and they needed to be able to explain how it got there and they came up with three possible reasons.

One could call this process ‘logical deduction’ but ‘considered speculation’ is just as appropriate.

What is also clear is that the police made two basic assumptions,

-  Macrae shot himself

-  the gun ended up in the burn through no deliberate act.

 

Let’s break this down into four pieces but we’re going to look only at the first section.

1

  It was concluded from the position of the deceased’s head when found by witnesses that
     

2

  that either the recoil from the gun when the fatal shot was fired caused it to drop out of the broken window into the burn
     

3

  or that the gun was lodged against the car door and had fallen out of the car when the car door was opened by witnesses
     

4

  or that the gun was lodged in the deceased’s hand and had fallen out of the car when the car door was opened by witnesses

You’ll notice that I have modified 3 and 4 so that all the words which belong to each are present.

If you think I have altered the meaning of the original statement, please let me know.

 

1.  It was concluded from the position of the deceased’s head when found
     by witnesses that

There is nothing in any of the released documents which describes the position of Macrae’s head.  I have read descriptions in newspaper reports but I will not use them here because that would mean giving the description credibility which it might not deserve and so we proceed without that information.

I am puzzled that the police imply that the position of Macrae’s head is relevant to how the gun found its way into the burn but the document is in no doubt.

The three possibilities which the police found are the obvious ones.  And they would still be the obvious ones regardless of the head’s position.  If we stick with the two basic assumptions, mentioned above, how else could the gun get into the burn?

 

What options would the police have come up with had Macrae’s head been in a different position?  I can’t think of any.

 

But the police aren’t finished with assumptions: they make two more here:

-  how the gun gets into the burn is linked to the position of Macrae’s head

-  all motor function stopped immediately after the shot

 

The first of these is, I hope, self-evident from the words used, ‘It was concluded from the position of the deceased’s head when found by witnesses that’.

It’s possible I’ve lost you on the second.  Let me explain.

The police state that they drew conclusions about how the gun ended up in the burn based upon the position of Macrae’s head when he was found by the witnesses.  This can only be of any value if the head’s position does not change after the initial movement following the shot.  If Macrae had retained sufficient motor function to move his head even once then the conclusions would be at risk. 

Imagine, in the minutes and hours after the shooting, that Macrae had retained sufficient motor function to move his head and had indeed done so then the position of his head, when found, is effectively a random position from which no conclusions can be drawn.

Therefore, the police’s words - ‘It was concluded from the position of the deceased’s head when found by witnesses that’ – only make sense if they believed that he lost all control of his head in the immediate aftermath of the shot.

Now I take one more step from this with which you may disagree.

I said that the words of the police only make sense if Macrae lost all control of his head in the immediate aftermath of the shot.  It seems inconceivable that the police could believe he lost control of his head but retained some degree of control over the rest of his body.  Therefore, I think it is reasonable to conclude that the police actually assumed that Macrae lost all motor function immediately.

 

BUT am I correct to state this as a police assumption?  You might think this question is irrelevant but wait.

To shoot himself in the right temple, Macrae must have held the gun in his right hand and also raised his right arm.  The firing of the shot would have created a recoil and his right arm would have moved uncontrollably because, according to the police assumption, his motor function would have stopped immediately.  Therefore his right arm and hand should have ended up in a position which resulted from this uncontrollable movement.

 

There were claims, in newspapers, that both of Macrae’s hands were on his lap.

Now let me make an assumption.

Assume the newspaper report is correct and Macrae’s hands were on his lap. 

How could this happen IF he immediately lost all motor function?  Of all the possible positions his hand and arm could have ended up in, his hand ended up on his lap!

For the position of Macrae’s head to have had relevance to how the gun ended up in the burn all motor function must have been lost.  Why, then, did the reported position of his hands not cause the police a problem?

Surely the police aren’t saying that his right arm and hand ended up in what appears to be a controlled position through uncontrolled movement!

 

BUT that hand position has not been confirmed officially and so they may not have been on Macrae’s lap.

BUT all motor function may not have stopped immediately after the shot.

BUT the ‘It was concluded’ statement may be wrong.  Perhaps it’s a badly written sentence.

BUT it does lead to more questions for the police and Crown Office.

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

QUESTIONS FOR POLICE SCOTLAND AND THE CROWN OFFICE

[Where I write ‘police’ please read as ‘police and Crown Office’]

 

What was the position of Macrae’s head when found by witnesses?

 

Do the police believe that Macrae’s head remained unmoved from the immediate aftermath of the shot until the witnesses arrived?  Whether Yes or No, what is the basis  for believing this?

 

Do the police believe Macrae lost all motor functioning immediately?

If no, why can any conclusions be drawn from the position of his head?

If yes, what was the basis for believing this?

Was there any medical advice which led to the belief that motor function was lost immediately?

 

Does Police Scotland believe, as stated in Annex A, that there is a link between the position of Macrae’s head (when found by witnesses) and the way in which his gun ended up in the burn? 

If yes, why is that and what is the basis for that belief? 

If no, why is the relevant sentence structured as it is?

 

What positions were his hands in when found by witnesses? 

How do you explain this position?

 

If his hands were on his lap do the police consider this was as a result of a controlled or uncontrollable movement after the shot?

If a ‘controlled movement’, why should you believe he had control of his right arm and hand but not of his head?

If a ‘controlled movement’,  what evidence is there to support this contention?

If an ‘uncontrollable movement‘, how likely is it that his right arm and hand would end up in a controlled position?

If an ‘uncontrollable movement’, should this not have led the police to reconsider suicide?

 

 

 

Please release all documents relevant to this article.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

 

© CalumCarr 2014

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one half of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

The rights to the one image used remains with Police Scotland

____________________________________________________________

Friday, 23 January 2015

Iain Martin’s New Democracy

 

In today’s Telegraph, Iain Martin describes a new concept of democracy within our wonderful union.

 

I had always assumed that, after a general election, the party which had a majority of seats across the entire UK formed the government. 

If there was no such party the next stage would be for the largest party to form a coalition, that coalition having a majority across the entire country.

It would be possible for a party, other than the largest party, to form a coalition, that coalition having a majority across the entire union.

Beyond this were other possibilities.

 

Martin, however, brings us his brilliant new concept of democracy,

all future UK governments must have a majority of seats in England.

 

 

He writes,

[The SNP] now seeks to engineer such an outcome [independence] by fostering grievance and winding-up English voters (see Sturgeon's disgraceful declaration that her party will prop up a future UK government that does not have a majority of seats in England.) [Emphasis is mine]

 

it wasn’t disgraceful in 2010, was it Iain, when Clegg propped up your beloved Conservative party which did not have a majority of seats in Scotland?

It wasn’t even disgraceful that your beloved party had only one seat in Scotland, was it Iain?

We were a union and across the union the Tory/Liberal coalition had a majority.  That’s how it worked then.

 

But you’ve changed, Iain. 

 

You still claim the union but only England matters now.

 

all future UK governments must have a majority of seats in England.

 

True colours, Ian!

 

Hypocrite!!

Stuck on Willie!

 

No!  This is not a rude post!

 

All week I’ve been stuck.

I can’t get the words down.

Monday’s Willie Macrae post is ready, was ready 5 days ago, but I’m stuck on the next one.  I know the points I want to make.  They’ve been clear for weeks.

BUT I can’t find the structure, any structure, to allow me to do so.

I look at the screen

Walk away

Come back

Type a little

Edit a pic

Walk away

and on and on and on this goes.

 

When I’ve been here before my approach is always get the words down in any structure, with no structure.  Doesn’t matter.  When the words are down I know I’ll get it sorted.

But not today!

 

I’m stuck on Willie!

 

I’ve been out all morning.  Had a lovely time.  Lovely food.

But

I look at the screen

Walk away

Come back

 

NOTHING

 

I’m stuck on Willie.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Willie Macrae Part 12: Gun – Where Found?

 

Where was the killing gun found?

 

What could be simpler?

 

Most things, apparently!

 

 

If you have been following this series you’ll know that I am working my way slowly (very), critically and logically through the documents released by the police and the Crown Office (COPFS).  You’ll know too that I do so without bringing in opposing ideas.  This is deliberate; not to exclude these other ideas and not to show the authorities’ views in a good light, but to keep matters simple.  Were I to follow Article A saying X with article B saying Y and the police saying Z we’d never know where we were.  We’d get lost in a fog.

Following my path I can display the evidence made public, tease it, pull it and question it and at the conclusion of this sequence all that official evidence will be in one place and all of it, or at least most of it, examined. 

Then there will be time to look at those opposing ideas and those difficult questions but we will do this against the clear background of the police case, to the extent that they have revealed it.

But I move slightly from that approach today.  So large is the apparent difference between what is reported and what has been released by the authorities that I highlight the difference. 

It is crucial to see that difference!

Let’s start there.

 

Official View 

 

Part 12 Macrae O Firearm High 1 Cropped

Part 12 macrae g lord a cropped1

macrae d wmerciacropped

Part 12 Annex A cropped 1

Sources
Firearms Examination Request (between 7 and 10 April 1985);
Letter from the Lord Advocate to Nicholas Fairbairn (1990);
Letter from Northern Constabulary (I assume) to West Mercia Police(1993);
Annex A as released to Steven Semple

 

These are the only four official sources which refer to the position of the gun and later we’ll look at each in more detail.  [Note: Page B of the synopsis mentions only that the gun was found.]  All four offer a significant degree of specificity,

revolver:

1 in small burn where the vehicle had come to rest
   
2 … recovered from a burn directly below where the driver’s door … had been.
   
3 … recovered in a shallow stream immediately below the position of the driver’s door …
   
4 was found in the burn beneath the small waterfall directly below where the driver’s door … had been.

 

I think it will be helpful to look at these descriptors against one of the police images.  Hopefully the three versions below are self-explanatory.

 

 

macrae 12

Hopefully, you’ll see the track of the burn with the front driver’s side wheel on the low side of the burn; the two doors open against the bank of the lower side and with the boot on the high side. 

In case this isn’t clear, I’ve marked where I believe the burn runs.

Part 12 Burn Macrae 12

 

Part 12 Burn Macrae Arrow 12

For position 1 the gun would have been found in the burn between the two blue arrows and for the other options between the two green arrows.

It’s worth stressing that all four official views have the gun found in the burn but within that part of the burn bounded by the front and back of the car.

Now that we know what the released documents say, let’s look at the views reported elsewhere. 

Don’t worry!  We’re coming back to  the official view later.

 

Media View

…. and a very different view it is.

 

Part 12 John Ross SoS 2010 H1 Part 12 6_6H1
Part 12 8_8H1 Part 12 12_12H1JPG
   

Part 12 7_7Cropped2

 

Well!

As though this wasn’t bad enough, there were reports that the police officer who found the car, the ‘busy’ pc Crawford says the gun was found yards from the car.

Part 12 Macleod 27 March 2012CroppedH1Part 12 Outterside 27 March 95H1

 

How can these different views be reconciled?

We know the gun was found in the burn but was it within that part bounded by the car (blue or green arrows in pic above) or was it ‘some distance’ / ‘20 yards’ from the car?

 

Why is this difference important?

The contention of many is that suicide is ruled out if the gun is not directly below the driver’s door?  The impact of the shot would immediately end all motor function.  Therefore,  they claim Macrae could not have shot himself, whilst in the car, and put or thrown the gun twenty yards (say) nor could he have shot himself whilst twenty yards away, dropped or thrown the gun and then made his way back into his car.  

This claim I will discuss in another post.

What is important today is to continue looking into the four official documents which mention the whereabouts of the gun.  Therefore, I need to get back into this.

 

As is normal, I’m not going to look at the evidence presented in the media here.  That will come later.  Today is for the official view but we must examine it in the knowledge that there is a massive difference of view between the police  / Crown office and the reporting media.

 

I’m still not ready to look at the actual words used.  Instead, let’s consider the circumstances in which the gun was found.

 

Circumstances of Gun Find

We know the gun was found about 12.30pm on Sunday, 7 April 1985. [Part 7]

We know the car had been removed from the site and was in a Fort Augustus garage on Saturday, 6 April at 15.30. [Part 7]

Therefore, the car cannot have been on site when the gun was found UNLESS it was returned there.

 

If the car was returned, how certain could the police be, can can we be now, that the car was returned to exactly the same position as it originally occupied?

If the car was not returned how certain could the police be that the gun was found directly below where the driver’s door had been?

 

Because the site was treated initially as the site of a straightforward accident, there was no reason for Constable Crawford, or any other officer, to mark the exact position of the car and there is no evidence or suggestion that this was done.

We know the crash site was photographed and measured but we do not know when the photographs were taken.  There was a maximum window of about 3h on the Saturday for the photographs to have been taken [My estimates in Part 8] but we don’t know if that was done.

 

Were the photographs available to the searchers on the Sunday?  This would have allowed officers to compare the position of the gun with the photographed position of the car.

If not this, how then did police determine the exact position of the gun relative to the ‘missing’ car?

Did they mark the exact gun spot and, at a later time, compare the mark with the car photo?

Did they mark and photograph the exact spot and, at a later time, compare the gun mark with the car photo?

Did they have a different method?

And could they do this with an accuracy of a few feet or so (the width of the driver’s door) ….?

…. and with certainty?

I can imagine that being possible but ….. ?

Let’s think about the accuracy required to be certain (virtually) that a gun believed to have been found within the width of the driver’s door was in reality in that position.

 

Imagine that the police find that their method shows the gun to have been in the burn but at that point which was exactly the mid-point of the width of the door.  For the gun actually to have been within the door’s width, the police method needs to be accurate to +/- half the width of the door.

For a ‘calculated’ position nearer to the edge of the door, the accuracy needs to be even better.

 

Now the driver’s door on my car, a medium 4 door hatch, is 42 inches wide.  Let’s assume that the Volvo door is wider by 6 inches (say).  [I asked the following question on a Volvo owners forum, ‘What is the maximum external width of the driver’s door in a Volvo 244 DL 4-door salon?’  So far I have had no reply.]

Using that assumption the ‘calculated’ position of the gun has to be correct to an accuracy of +/- 2 feet or better depending on the calculated position.

 

Is that possible?

 

I don’t know but, if there was a clear ground feature then, it could be possible.  A complicating factor might be the angle at which the police photo is taken.  Did the police use photo 9 (see above)?  If not, which pic, if any, did they use?

A view taken at 900 to the side of the car would offer the best option for detection.

 

Still I’m confused, more confused than I was when I started.

 

Still we don’t know how the police determined that the position of the gun was within that part of the burn where the driver’s door of the now moved car had been.

I can’t accept that this was the case simply because their documents say so: none of the released source is contemporaneous.

Nor can I accept that they were wrong simply because I don’t have the comfort that they were correct.

 

Reconciliation

I mentioned earlier that I couldn’t reconcile the two very different views: gun in burn within boundaries of driver’s door and the gun some distance further away.

But reconciliation is possible IF one accepts the conspiracy theory. 

We’re going to look at the four official documents in detail to see if we believe they support conspiracy.

 

Let’s look again at the four official documents

Part 12 Macrae O Firearm High 1 Cropped

Part 12 macrae g lord a cropped1

macrae d wmerciacropped

Part 12 Annex A cropped 1

The conspiracy claim was made against the second top example by David Leslie, a former crime reporter, who is named as the author of a book on the Scottish National Liberation Army.  I have read that the book was actually written by Adam Busby, a convicted terrorist who is currently appealing his extradition from Ireland to Scotland, who appended Leslie’s name.  I assume this was done to either aid publication or to give the book more ‘weight’.

Busby claims that the sentence,

The revolver was recovered by police on 7April 1985 from a burn directly below where the driver’s door had been.

is ambiguous.  He says it can mean both

that the gun was found in the burn and at a point in the burn below where the driver’s door had been

and

the gun was found in an unspecified part of the burn; the burn which flowed directly below where the driver’s door had been.

Essentially he is saying that the last 8 words can describe the gun or the burn.

 

You may feel moved to dismiss this as fanciful but I saw the same ambiguity before I had read Busby’s claim.  As far as I am concerned the ambiguity is real.

But is it deliberate?

 

And what would be gained by doing so?

You have to make a few assumptions: that Macrae was murdered; the gun was found some distance from the car; that fact cannot be admitted; a claim of suicide must be supported.  For many readers, this may be 4 assumptions too many but please go with it.

The authorities don’t want to tell an outright lie – they want deniability – and so they support suicide by claiming apparently that the gun was found below where the driver’s door was whilst at the same time having the option later, if needed, of using the alternate meaning.

As I write this, it’s plausibility recedes but I cannot deny that I saw this possible ‘play’ and my openness demands that I review each of the four documents with this ambiguity in mind.

 

 

 

There are four official documents which refer to where the gun was found:

Firearms Examination Request (between 7 and 10 April 1985)

letter from the Lord Advocate to Nicholas Fairbairn (1990)

letter from Northern Constabulary (I assume) to West Mercia Police(1993)

Annex A as released to Steven Semple

 

 

Firearms Examination Report

Because this is a request for an examination I would expect the information to be correct, hopefully, but basic because the exact details are less likely to be crucial to those officers carrying out the study.  For the same reasons I would be less concerned if there were a discrepancy between this document and the others released.  Now with that in mind let’s start.

 

Part 12 Macrae O Firearm High 1

Only the few highlighted words are relevant here.

Volvo 244 Saloon discovered …. off the road about 60 yards down the embankment.

and

Search of locus on 7.4.85 revealed revolver in small burn where vehicle had come to rest,

 

The first section is interesting because, if correct, it would put the car 30 yards further from the road than the police have stated elsewhere.  I didn’t pick up on this before.  In fact, I hadn’t picked this up until after I made the comment a few lines up about being less concerned if there were a discrepancy between information here and that released elsewhere.  Well, now I’ve got a discrepancy and I just can’t ignore it.

But I’m not going to deal with it here.  I’ll lose focus.  I’ll write a separate post about this difference and its potential implications once I’ve finished with the gun, which might take two more posts.  My gut tells me this is a trivial error …. but I can’t leave it.   I would need to give up if I were to ignore this.   I can’t ignore a difference because my gut says ‘trivial’.

Right, now.  Back to where the gun was found.

 

Search of locus on 7.4.85 revealed revolver in small burn where vehicle had come to rest,

The obvious meaning to me here is that the gun was found in that part of the burn where the car came to rest.

Were I asked to convey that meaning I’d probably write with the same construction we see in the document.

But yet I see the alternative.

 

The difficulty we have is that, ‘where the vehicle had come to rest ‘ is a descriptive clause but we don’t know if it describes the burn or the revolver.

If it describes the burn, then the revolver was found somewhere in the burn, the burn where the car had come to rest. 

 

If it describes the revolver, then the revolver was found where the car had come to rest and also in the burn. 

 

I find I can’t know what the words mean.  I’m left none the wiser to the exact position of the car.  The grammar study has left me where I was; confused?

 

What happens though if I use common sense instead?  Do I get any further?

We need to remember who wrote these words and the reason for writing.  One police officer was writing to another requesting a forensic examination of the gun and he is giving an outline of the relevant information.  The officer is not writing a detailed report covering every aspect of the case.  It’s a straightforward request. 

I know if I had made an equivalent request at work I’d quickly write out the basic information I believed would help the examiners.  I wouldn’t check for grammatical accuracy or whether my words could be misinterpreted. 

I am sure that if someone looked through my blog they would find many examples where I had written ungrammatically in a way which made my words ambiguous.  I don’t write to be deliberately ambiguous but I know what I mean when I write and when I re-read my words I find that same meaning.  I think all who write will fall down in exactly the same way.

 

Remember too that this officer wasn’t expecting his words to be seen by the public and so there’s less reason for him to be particularly careful in his use of English.

Are we to believe that this officer deliberately wrote ambiguously to create the impression that the gun was found in a position which would support a suicide call?

My view – note what follows is my view only: I do not state it as a fact.  I see the ambiguity in this particular document as being accidental.  I may be wrong which is why I have couched this in ‘my view only’ terms.

Finally, for this first document, there is nothing in the words written which can reveal the correct meaning and so we must rest with the two possibilities.

 

I’m left with the normal meaning: found within that part of the burn where the car had come to rest. 

But I can’t rule out the other.

 

If one were describing this situation knowing that the description was being made public then I would hold that person to a higher standard of accuracy in language.

Now we move on to a document which was written to be made public and so I hold the writer to a higher standard.

 

Letter from the Lord Advocate to Nicholas Fairbairn MP

Before we look at the relevant part of the letter I should mention who was the Lord Advocate in 1990.  Wikipedia says this,

Peter Lovat Fraser, Baron Fraser of Carmyllie, PC, QC (29 May 1945 – 22 June 2013) was a Scottish politician and advocate

Fraser was elected as a Conservative & Unionist Member of Parliament for South Angus in 1979, where he remained in the House of Commons until June 1987 (from 1983 representing East Angus). He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to George Younger, Secretary of State for Scotland. In 1982 he was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland by Margaret Thatcher and became Lord Advocate in 1989, when he was made a life peer as Baron Fraser of Carmyllie, of Carmyllie in the District of Angus and a member of the Privy Council. [Source]

We see that Peter Fraser was Solicitor General when Macrae died in 1985 and so is likely to have been familiar with the case before Nicholas Fairbairn wrote to him a few days earlier.

Perhaps I’m being cynical by saying that Peter Fraser has two things going against him (in terms of our trusting him): he was a lawyer and a politician.

 

Part 12 Macrae g lord A high

[The second page carries no more information about the car but you can read it here.]

This letter, dated 11 April 1990 was actually made public on Good Friday, 13 April, 1990.  A good Friday to bury this?

The revolver was recovered by police on 7 April 1985 from a burn directly below where the driver’s door of his car had been.

and

I wish to further emphasise the position of the gun when recovered.  It was not found some distance from Mr Macrae’s car as has been reported.

Let’s deal with the second part first: it’s easier and much shorter.

I’m frustrated by Fraser’s approach here.  He says he wants ‘to emphasise further the position of the gun’ but he doesn’t do this.  Rather he tells us where the gun was NOT: ‘It was not found some distance from Mr Macrae’s car as has been reported.

It appears as though he is trying to debunk another’s statement that the gun was found some distance from the car but by addressing the issue in this way he does nothing to clarify the situation.

‘[S]ome distance from the car’ is itself vague and unclear!

If it wasn’t ‘some distance from the car was it some other distance from the car’?

What is ‘some distance’?

2 inches?  2 feet?  2 yards?  20 yards?  200 yards?

 

Fraser wasted the opportunity to be absolutely clear by rubbishing another claim. 

But I must consider the possibility that Fraser thought that his first sentence was perfectly clear and so he could then address the ‘some distance’ claim directly.

 

Let’s look at his first sentence now,

The revolver was recovered by police on 7 April 1985 from a burn directly below where the driver’s door of his car had been.

and we see the same situation we had earlier with the Firearms Report.

 

Is he saying that the gun was found in that part of the burn which was directly below where the driver’s door had been?

or does he mean that a burn ran directly under where the driver’s door had been and the gun was found somewhere in that burn without specifying which part. 

As with the Firearms Request, the obvious meaning to me is the former but the latter is still there.

 

Again, if I use the common sense approach  I get no clarity either.

I mentioned earlier that I would hold to a higher standard those who were writing for the public and Peter Fraser clearly was doing this and so I need to look more closely still.

Might Lord Fraser be giving the impression that the gun was found directly below where the driver’s door was whilst knowing it was found elsewhere?  Might the confusing language be deliberate to allow him an escape route if ever he was challenged?  Many think that lawyers and politicians are skilled at such deception.

This would be a massive charge to lay at a Law Officer’s door.

But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening here.

 

Where am I with Fraser’s words?

If the gun was found directly below where the driver’s door had been then his words are absolutely consistent with that.

If the gun was found elsewhere then, although that meaning can be taken from his words, I would charge that the ambiguity was deliberate.  Lawyers are skilled in the use of words and I believe he said exactly what he meant to say. 

But did he see the ambiguity?

Did he mean the ambiguity?

 

I do not know!

 

Does the confusion remain when we look at the third document

 

Letter from Northern Constabulary

Part 12 macrae d wmercia H1

This has exactly the same construction as the Lord Advocate’s letter.  The writer seems to have used the Lord Advocate’s letter as his template and changed a few words but it does not seem like a new sentence.

Again, there is an obvious meaning: the same as before.  But the possibility of ambiguity is there. 

 

Finally, there is Annex A.

 

Annex A

Part 12 Annex A Page 2 H1

 

This is like the other 3 documents in that there is the same sentence construction and the same obvious meaning but with the same ambiguity within.

There is no need for me to expand on this example.

 

There is, however, a point of interest in this particular description.  Here we get an additional descriptor,

‘revolver, was found in the burn beneath a small waterfall directly below where the driver’s door of the Volvo car had been. [Emphasis is mine]

In late 2014 we are given the most detailed description of the gun’s location.

I am curious.

 

If there is no conspiracy then this can only have come from official records, hopefully contemporaneous records, but why would the Lord Advocate not have used this added description?  Would this not have given more credibility to his statement?

Some might say that use of these extra words is ‘gilding the lily’; giving too much description and, therefore, makes one consider conspiracy.

Others might see this as being a genuine attempt to give the fullest information whilst still largely remaining within the constraints imposed on Annex A (that Annex contains information previously released).  In a later post we’ll see that Annex A does reveal significant new information.

 

What is clear is that Police Scotland and/or the Crown office must release all official records which describe where the gun found.  We must see the record which first uses the description, ‘beneath a small waterfall’.

 

Summary

Where was the gun found?  Here is a major difference between MSM reports and official records: the papers saying ‘some distance from the car’ implying murder they say; the authorities saying found ‘where the driver’s door had been’ suggestive of suicide.

I ask how, when the car had been removed, were the police so confident that the gun was found where the driver’s door had been.

 

We saw that a normal interpretation of the four documents was that each described the gun as being found within that part of the burn bounded by the car’s front and rear.  Three give an even more accurate description.

We saw too that each has another possible interpretation, one which I believe would be considered less likely in grammatical terms, but which nevertheless is present.  In this interpretation the descriptive clause applies to the burn.  It is the burn, and not the gun, which is described as directly below where the driver’s door had been.  Other than the gun being found in this particular burn this interpretation gives no guidance as to where in the burn the gun was found.

If this other possible interpretation were actually correct then I would see this as a deliberate attempt by the authorities to mislead the public.

If !

 

If this other possible interpretation were actually correct then the gun was NOT found in that part of the burn which was directly below where the driver’s door had been.

If !

 

If this other possible interpretation were actually correct then the likelihood of Macrae’s death being suicide is diminished hugely (some/many might say that suicide would be ruled out).

If !

 

Annex A has a more detailed description than released previously.  Why? 

I say,

What is clear is that Police Scotland and/or the Crown office must release all official records which describe where the gun found.  We must see the record which first uses the description, ‘beneath a small waterfall’.

 

 

 

© CalumCarr 2014

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Willie Macrae Part 11: Crash Questions for Police

 

In Part 10 I looked at the released evidence about the ‘crash’ itself. Unfortunately, such is the paucity of evidence that the only conclusion is that insufficient information is in the public domain.

Therefore, I call on the police and the Crown Office to answer more questions.

1

  How was Macrae’s car recovered from its crash site and by whom?
     

2

  Whose breakdown vehicle is shown in police photographs 1, 2, 3 and 4 (jpg files Macrae 4, 5, 6 and 7 respectively)?
     

3

  In police photographs 2, 3 and 4 (jpg files Macrae 5, 6 and 7 respectively), three vehicles are seen in the layby.  One is the breakdown lorry.  One is a police van.  Who present at the scene was the driver of that van. Who were the passengers, if any, in the police van.
     

4

  In those same police photographs (2, 3 and 4; jpg files Macrae 5, 6 and 7 respectively), three vehicles are seen in the layby.    The third vehicle is a car?  Is it a police car?  Who were the driver and passengers in that car?
     

5

  Who took the photographs?
     

6

  When were the photographs at the crash site taken?
     

7

  Were all the crash site photographs made public in 2005?  If not, please do so.
     

8

  When were the measurements for the locus map taken?
     

9

  Who analysed and measured the locus?
     

10

  When was the locus map drawn?
     

11

  What evidence is there to link the 57 feet skid mark in the layby to Macrae’s car?
     

12

  In photo 7 (file ‘macrae 10.jpg’) what feature does this highlight?  What is its significance?  Why is this not shown on the locus map?
     

13

  What evidence is there to link this feature (from Qn. 8) to Macrae’s car?
     

14

  What evidence is there to link the 4 skid marks on the grass verge to Macrae’s car?
     

15

  Was any estimate made of the speed of Macrae’s car as it made the 57’ skid mark in the layby and/or as it left the road (at the site of the 4 skid marks? If so, please release full details.
     

16

  Beyond the initial measurement and photographing was any other investigation or analysis of the crash itself performed?  If not, why not? And if there were other analyses, please release the full study and conclusions.
     

17

  During the initial and subsequent investigations, whether initiated by the police or COPFS or any other body, what analyses of the potential causes of the crash were undertaken?
     

18

  Were any causes other than a simple one car crash considered?  If so, which other possibilities and what were the conclusions?
     

 

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

 

© CalumCarr 2014

__________________________________________________________________

 

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

____________________________________________________________

Monday, 12 January 2015

Willie Macrae Part 10: Crash Analysis

 

So far I’ve written:

- 4 posts on the background to the case

- 2 posts on the possible crash sites

- 3 posts on the timing of events (based on released documents)

Now I’m ready to look at the police evidence about the crash itself. 

Perhaps cheekily I’ve titled this post ‘Crash Analysis’ because I have no expertise in this area but I have read no analysis of this crash.  In fact, I’ve not even seen questions being asked about the crash and the available evidence.

I feel I have no option but to step in.  Just as it was important to attempt to built a time framework it’s necessary to look at, try to interpret and question the evidence.

Once again I acknowledge that there may be no fruits from these labours.  So be it.  I need to do this for me, if for no other reason.

Once again I ask that you bear with me as I indulge my ‘desires’.

 

Firstly, let’s look at the evidence which is of three forms,

-  statement
-  diagram
-  photos

 

Statement

Last year, the COPFS (Crown Office and procurator Fiscal Service) responded to Steven Semple’s FOI by refusing to release additional information but also by issuing Annex A (here)

COPFS 1 E1

Therefore, there should be no information in Annex A which is new to us.  Later we’ll see if that is accurate.

The key part of Annex A, as regards the ‘crash’ itself, is

COPFS 2 E1

The implication here is that the car was out out of control more than 60 yards before the point at which it finally left the road.

 

Diagram

The diagram was made available by Northern Constabulary and as a response to Andy Muirhead’s FOI. You’ll find it here. [Note: when you click on the link you’ll find that it opens in portrait which makes it very difficult to read.  Download the image and rotate or rotate it within your browser if you can.]

Macrae T Map of accident

You’ll probably find that, to read this image, you’ll need to view it in a photo viewer.  Even then you’ll find some of the writing difficult to read and so I appended the above pic to try to make it clearer.

Appended macrae t map of accident 

Again this is too small but you can download a copy from here.

You’ll see that this diagram shows the 57 feet skid, the four skid marks on the verge, the car’s final resting place and what seems to be the spot where the car landed and flipped over and where the rear window popped out.

 

Photos

Now, the police photographs.

macrae 4

macrae 5

macrae 6 macrae 7

macrae 8

macrae 9

macrae 10 macrae 11

macrae 12 macrae 13

We would expect these photographs to have captured the key features detailed in the diagram and the statement.  We’ll see.

 

Car’s Final Position

Rather than starting at the beginning of the 57 feet skid, I am going to the end to show how the car, in my opinion, is likely to have come to rest  where it did.  I do this because this is the easiest part to work on.

 

Macrae T Extract 1

macrae 9

These images show the car upright facing back towards its direction of travel.

There are only two ways such a position could happen:

  - car stays on its wheels and the ground contours ‘direct’ the car to its final position

  - car turns over its front end and then rolls into its final position.

 

We can ignore option 1 because this photo

macrae 12

shows damage to the roof and the tops of the doors and windows discoloured by vegetation.  It is clear, therefore, that the car has rolled to get to its final position.

 

The photo below shows that the car was upright in the arrowed region.

Part 10 labelled macrae 13

 

The series of diagrams below shows how the car could end up facing back towards the direction in which left the road.

Car TOP RedGreenCropped C1

Car UNDER Red Green C2

 

 

 

 

 

Car TOP 3B C1

 

 

 

 

 

 

We start at top right with the initial direction of travel being right-to-left.  The front of the car stops -  having hit an obstruction (eg the far edge of the burn), the car rotates around the front – red axis in the first pic.  The car then is upside down (as in pic 2).  The photo directly above these pics shows the ground falls away sharply below the car and, therefore, the upside down car rotates about its long edge (red axis) and its finishing position is upright and facing back towards its direction of travel.

It’s quite possible that Macrae’s car, having returned to its upright position as in pic 3 above, continues to do another 360o rotation to end up further down the slope but still on its wheels in the same orientation.

 

Having demonstrated, I hope, that the final position of Macrae’s car is easily explained let’s go back to the start – the 57 feet skid in the lay-by.

 

Lay-by Skid

Annex A says this,

‘Examination of the locus revealed a skid mark of some 57 feet in length on the loose grit in the lay by, which appeared to have been made by the rear nearside wheel of the vehicle.’

 

The locus map (appended by me) shows

Layby Extract Macrae T

What we need to look for in the police photographs, therefore, is a long line in the loose grit, just on the layby side of the dotted white line and which ends only ten feet from the end of the layby and the corner.

I don’t see this long line in either of the two layby photos.

Macrae 4

Macrae 5

Do you?

 

In the upper photo I see several bands of grit but nothing in the correct area.

P10 macrae 4 Labelled 2

 

In the lower photo I can see a line but it ends much further than 10 feet from the end of the layby.  What I’m seeing might just be an artefact of digitisation.  I have marked it with a yellow line.  Can you see it in the original above?  Do you think it is the skid mark referred to?

Part 10 macrae 5 Lined labelled

The records also show that the skid mark stops 10 feet from the end of the layby.  The line I marked is much further than 10 feet from the end of the layby.  I’ve magnified the image.

Part 10 macrae 5 LL 2

The black arrow highlights the one part of the broken line which edges the layby.  There are 10 such parts between the end of my marked line (black cross).  When I look at photo 1 I would estimate each line to be at least 1 foot with the gap between lines being the same.  On this basis my marked line ends 20 feet before the end of the layby and so cannot be the skid mark referred to in official documents.

The yellow arrow shows the point I estimate is 10 feet from the layby’s end.

 

Well, I’m not convinced.  I can’t see the ’official’ skid mark.  I’m not saying that it isn’t there but, if it is present, the photos do not show it.

 

Marks on Verge

Annex A states that there are no  marks on the road between the end of the 57’ skid and the start of the 4 skid marks on the verge which is 171 feet beyond the layby mark.

There is an interesting photo, however, which shows, not a mark on the road, but one on the grass verge (photo 7).

macrae 10

 

Below, in a cropped, lightened and magnified version, we can see a tyre track.

Part 10 macrae 10 Extract

In case the track isn’t clear I’ve marked it .

Part 10 macrae 10 Extract 1 Labelled

It’s not clear why the original photo was taken.  Was it to show tyre tracks belonging to Macrae’s car?  No mention is made of this feature in Annex A or in the locus map.

Regardless of the official reason, this photo is valuable because it shows what happens when a tyre, which is turning as opposed to skidding, rolls over a grass verge.  The tread creates an imprint on the surface.  There is no tearing of the surface.

 

Four Skid Marks on Verge

Now contrast that with official photo 6.

macrae 9

This pic has some confusing features which I’ll return to but let’s concentrate on the rightmost mark – arrowed below.

 

Part 10 macrae 9 cropped2

 

This is very different from the tyre track on the verge (up 2 pics).  Here the ground has been ripped, the surface destroyed.

The only possible cause, which I can see, is that the tyre was not turning but was sliding.  I take my conjecture further.  It seems as though the damage is caused by a tyre which is turned across the direction of travel.  Is that clear?  Perhaps I should show what I mean in another pic.

Part 10 macrae 9 cropped3

The arrow shows the direction of travel and the green ring represents a tyre turned across that direction.  Please bear in mind that my picture shows the tyre turned at 90o to the direction of travel.  I think similar damage could be cause with the tyre turned through smaller angles. 

Please remember too that this is conjecture only.

There’s a risk of moving too quickly and making a story out of my little thesis.  Too easy it would be to say that the tyre was turned across the direction of travel because the driver was attempting to keep his car on the road.  That might be but we would be wrong to assume that no other possibilities exist. 

For example, the wheels could be in a neutral position but the car could be sliding, almost sideways, in the direction of the yellow arrow.  In this scenario the wheel would be oriented in exactly the same way relative to the grass verge.

 

Let’s go back and find the four skid marks in one photo.

P10 macrae 8 Mod2

I think these are the four but I’m not sure. I’m think 2, 3 and 4 are correct but as for 1?  I’m not sure.  Just to the right of arrow 1 there seems to be a track on the road.  Do you see it?

I’ve highlighted it in the pic below.

P10 macrae 8 Mod3

Do you see it now?

With such uncertainty I don’t think I can do any more with the actual marks.

Let’s go back to the Locus diagram to see if we can make any sense of the skid marks.

Appended macrae t map of accident cropped

Again I’m confused.  The distances between the starts of marks are

Mark 1

M2

M3

M4

161

174

182

191

 

13 feet

8 feet

9 feet

But, when I look back to my arrowed photo of the marks, the distance between 3 and 4 is tiny and is certainly not 9 feet.

Despite the confusion I have to leave the photo behind and concentrate on the diagram AND treat it as though it is accurate.

The data below show the distances between the two front wheels, the two rear wheels and between the front and rear wheels for a Volvo 244 saloon, the model driven by Macrae

Volvo Wheel specs 1[Source]

and the distances are too small, on their own, to account for the distances between the skid marks.  Clearly the car was moving significantly in two directions.  I’ve tried to show this in this last diagram of this article.

 

Appended arrowed macrae t map of accident

The red line shows the direction of North.

The blue arrows follow the track of the skid marks in the diagram and show the movement of the car in an almost northerly direction.  To account for the large spacing between the marks there must be a component of movement (green arrow) which is parallel to the road.

Now that all seems quite logical and reasonable BUT it is no more than my simple interpretation of the evidence provided by the authorities. 

I might very well be wrong.  Please bear that in mind.

 

Evidence of Car being Forced off Road?

One theory has it that Macrae was forced off the road by another vehicle, another that Macrae tried to force another vehicle off the road but ended up himself in that place.

I looked at three photos (Macrae11, 12 and 13) for evidence of contact between two vehicles.  If you click on the three images they’ll open in your browser and you can easily magnify the image several times over. [In Chrome, I can magnify the photo by a factor of 5.]

 macrae 11

macrae 12 macrae 13

The car is covered in bumps but I must disregard those as evidence of two vehicles coming together because they could have arisen from its travelling down the embankment and subsequent turning over.

What is left is to look for scrapes and scratches …. and I can find none. 

The released photographs provide no evidence that either Macrae was forced off the road or that he tried to force off another vehicle BUT this in no way is conclusive because we cannot see the entire car, because some of the bumps could have arisen from a coming together and because contact isn’t necessary to force a car off the road.

Looking for scrapes was a long-shot and, despite finding none, nothing can be ruled in or out.

 

 

That’s the meat of this post finished but I feel it has been such a hotchpotch that I need to pull it together as well as make some general comments.

 

Summary

I looked at five aspects the ‘crash’:

-  final position of Macrae's car
-  layby skid
-  track on the grass verge
-  four skid marks on the verge
-  car being forced off road

using the 3 formats in which the evidence was provided (Annex A statement, photographs and locus map and diagram).

 

Final Position  Initially I was surprised by the positioning but, after a little thought, I saw that with two simple mechanisms (turning over its front and then over its side) the car could end up where it did.

 

Layby Skid  Annex A and the diagram mention a skid mark, 57 feet long, in the layby about 60 yards from where the car left the road.  In neither of the relevant photos could I see the skid mark in the detailed position.

 

Track on Grass Verge  This wasn’t mentioned in Annex A nor shown on the diagram but a photo (Macrae 10) clearly showed a track.  I don’t know why this feature was photographed but not mentioned elsewhere.

My interpretation was that the mark was made by a tyre which was turning, as opposed to being stopped and skidding.  I noted the contrast with the four skid marks on the verge.

 

Four Skid marks on the Verge  I struggled with this.  I couldn’t match up the diagram to the photos and had to take the diagram as being accurate.  The only way I could reconcile the distances between the marks was to propose two main components acting on the car: movement in a largely northerly direction in line with the skid marks and also movement parallel to the road.

I may be wrong!

For one of the marks (no. 4 in my arrowed pic) I suggest that the damage to the ground is caused not by a rotating wheel but by a wheel which is turned across the (northerly) direction of travel.

Again I may be wrong!

Why do I say so freely that I may be wrong?  Because I don’t want my suggestions to be stated by others as being factual.  I may be right but I may also be wrong.

 

Evidence of Car being Forced off Road?  I looked for scrapes and scratches on Macrae’s car which might have indicated contact with another vehicle.  I found none.

I had to disregard any bumps or dents given we know that the car turned over twice, at least, before it reached its resting place.

Not finding scratches does NOT rule out the possibility that Macrae was forced off the road.  Simply I found no evidence in the documents released by the authorities.

 

General Comments  I raised questions about the timings of the photos and diagram in Parts 7 to 9.

The released documents are bare of any worthwhile analysis.

We know the diagram was prepared by Constable Crawford who was on duty in Fort Augustus when the first call was put through on the Saturday morning (6 April)  - see Part 7.  We know too that he was in Fort Augustus at 15.30 on that day when the car was being examined at the local garage.

It is reasonable to assume – but it is an assumption – that PC Crawford took photographs and measured the scene between Macrae leaving for hospital and the car being moved to Fort Augustus.  (In Parts 7 and 8 I estimate times at which certain events happened.)

It is reasonable to assume – but it is an assumption – that PC Crawford believed the site to be a place of an accident and not a potential scene of suicide or murder.

It is reasonable to assume – but it is an assumption – that PC Crawford arranged to have the car removed.

Given these assumptions, it is reasonable that the initial investigation was as simple as it appears to be from the released documents.

There is nothing in the released documents which leads me to question the view that the ’crash’ was an accident but that is not surprising because there is nothing in those documents to show that any other possibility was, at that time, considered or investigated.

__________________________________________________________________

 

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr  

 

© CalumCarr 2014

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

I retain copyright over all modified images.

Copyright of the original unmodified images is retained by their respective original owners and to this end I name: Police Scotland, Car Blueprint and carinfo.com