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.


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If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr
 

© CalumCarr 2015
__________________________________________________________________
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
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12 comments:

  1. You may be overcomplicating things to which the only reasonable reponse is: "Nobody knows, and nobody can be expected to know" (unless anyone else was present at the time of the shot - but certainly nobody who came along later).

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  2. 'You may be overcomplicating things'

    Very possibly!

    My approach is to work my way slowly but logically, I hope, through the full list of released documents to understand what those records say or don't say. By doing this I will have a reference framework against which other views can be compared. Inevitably, there will be inconsistencies, illogicalities and contradictions in the records. I must highlight those.

    Part 14, due Monday 2 Feb, will highlight a contradiction.

    Therefore, it is inevitable that at times, possibly often, I will delve deeper, or read more, into parts of the records than you or others feel necessary or appropriate. This is the risk of doing my thinking in public. Had I worked away for six months (say) doing all my thinking in private then, when eventually published, my writing would have been much shorter, focused and more polished. I couldn't have worked that way and so I am left with long and detailed posts some of which don't suit some or many or all.

    The best analogy I can find is to compare it with looking for a needle in a haystack. Imagine lifting every piece of hay to check if the needle is underneath?

    But there is no needle in my haystack. I'm looking at each piece of hay to check for consistency with every other piece of hay. It's hard, often boring, work to undertake. Watching another do this must be very difficult.

    I am grateful to those who come and watch for a short time and leave. Hopefully, they will come back again.

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  3. I also was inclined to the view that you're overthinking this. Possibly because the people who wrote the reports you're quoting were also overthinking it.

    The question may be simpler than they suggested. Given that the car door seems to have been shut when the car was found, is it possible that the gun was in the car, unnoticed by any of the first responders, and ended up in the burn without anyone realising it was there in the first place? Given that the car was lying with a fairly pronounced tilt to the right, I'd have thought that wasn't terribly unlikely.

    I don't think it's all that helpful to pontificate on exactly how it got there, considering the amount of activity that occurred between the original crash and the finding of the gun. The car door was opened, people poked around and established that the driver was still alive, and ambulance came and eventually he was removed from the car and put in an ambulance. All that before the car itself was removed.

    If he'd been dead, it's possible people would have looked more carefully at what they were doing and what else was in the car and so on. But when the casualty is still alive, everyone is focussed on getting him out without doing any more damage. I don't think the gun was very big. It could have been in a lot of places towards the right of the driver's seat area, and ended up falling out into the burn without anyone noticing, if they were concentrating on removing an injured man from a crashed car.

    I think the police probably made a mistake trying to be more specific than that, because you really can't be specific in a situation like that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Rolfe

    I think the police were 'overthinking' which is why I wrote that, '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.'

    But, having said that the position of Macrae's head was relevant to their conclusions, it became important that I followed their (the police's) logic to show its implications. Had I not followed through as I did, I would have imposed onto readers my view of what was likely, to the exclusion of other viewpoints. I try not to do this.

    But then I risk what I said to Andrew, 'Therefore, it is inevitable that at times, possibly often, I will delve deeper, or read more, into parts of the records than you or others feel necessary or appropriate.'

    I have been very aware that my posts lose some/much of their readability because I explore so many options. Again I accept this as a necessary consequence of the style I have chosen.

    In next week's post you may find a similar situation where one option may seem very likely but still I explore other options.

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  5. Look, we get how you're approaching it and it's admirably thorough. But we can express our opinions too. You don't have to go into defensive mode every time anyone ventures to put forward a suggestion.

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  6. Gee, this thing is getting deeper and deeper.

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  7. And yet it might be a straightforward case of suicide .... or it might not!

    Join the confused.

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  8. I tried to view your blog from Perth public library but received a big red "Site blocked" notice all over my screen. I've never seen that before for any site. Can get in from home okay though.

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  9. Oh! Could you access other blogger blogs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I could. My own one, for example, was designated as squeaky clean :)?

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    2. I was in the library again today. The blocking notice suggested it was an automatic thing due to content related to "firearms". Nothing case-specific I suggest.

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