In 1985, Douglas Bruce Scott, a member of the
Anmatyerre aboriginal Nation in the Northern Territory of
Australia was incarcerated for alleging using obscene language.
While in custody Douglas Scott was allegedly beaten, resulting in
a badly injured eye. He was then remanded for 60 days and kept in
solitary confinement until his death on the morning of July 5,
1985. On July 5th, at 6:22 AM a correction officer
found Douglas Scott hanging in his cell, C Block, Cell No.8,
Berrimah Prison Near Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
Based on the documents supplied by Letty Scott,
wife of Douglas Scott, regarding her husband's death in 1985,
Letty Scott has been seeking answers to questions regarding
Douglas Scott's death, as well as expressing her opinion that
there was a conspiracy to prevent justice in this case. Letty
Scott was unable to have the investigation re-opened, however,
she brought attention to this matter. In response to her
requests, as well as a more generalized concern in Australia
about the over-representation of Aboriginals deaths in custody,
a Royal Commission convened to study these matters.
Concluding their inquiry, the Royal Commission did not render a
finding supporting the allegations that there had been unlawful
conduct involving the Aborigine prison deaths, reported as
In October 1999, upon the request of Mr.
Michael Thomas, a Tribal Councilman for the Mashantucket Pequot
Tribal Nation, and Searle Field, Chief of Staff, a meeting was
set-up for Dr. Henry C. Lee and Letty Scott, wife of the late
Douglas Scott. On November 1.1999, Dr. Lee met with this group,
and several photographs and documents relating to the death of
Douglas Scott were given to Dr. Lee for review.
In subsequent discussions with Searle Field and
Michael Thomas it was mutually agreed upon that Dr. Lee would
form an international forensic investigative committee to review
the documents related to the hanging death of Douglas Scott.
Subsequently, a forensic investigative
committee was established, and was comprised of forensic and
legal experts who agreed to review the available documentation
regarding the death of Douglas Scott. This committee was chaired
by Dr. Henry Lee and included Dr. Michael Baden, Dr Cyril Wecht,
both are world-renowned forensic pathologists, and Dr. Peter
Dean, a renowned coroner and Forensic Medical Examiner in
England. In addition, the committee included Linda Kenney Esq., a
renowned trial attorney, and Major Timothy Palmbach, Esq.,
Commanding Officer for Division of Scientific Services, Judge
Haskell Pitluck, Illinois Superior Court Judge, and Boulder
District Attorney, AIex Hunter. (See Appendix A for copies of
each committee members' curriculum vitae).
On March 11, 2000 some the forensic team
members met with Michael Thomas, Searle Field, Henry Sockbeson,
and other tribal officials to discuss the preliminary findings
and future actions.
After a detailed review of the submitted
photographs and reports the forensic investigation team concluded
with the following observations.
I. STUDY OF CRIME SCENE PHOTOGRAPHS:
This forensic team was provided with a very
limited amount of information or documentation pertaining to the
There were twelve (12) black & white crime scene
photographs. After a detailed study of the submitted photographs
and documents, the following information pertaining to the crime
scene was revealed.
1. Photograph #1 is a copy of a black
& white photograph depicting Douglas Scott hanging within his
cell, C Block, Cell No.8. Douglas Scott is wearing a white short
sleeve T-shirt, shorts, with bare feet. Douglas Scott is hanging
from a patterned sheet tied around his neck. It appears that his
right leg is bent slightly at the knee, and that portions of both
feet are touching the floor. A bed is located to the right of
Douglas Scott, and a wall mounted table unit is located in front
of and to the right of Douglas Scott. There is no stool visible
in this photograph; however, there is a shadow projected onto the
wall in front of Douglas Scott that appears to resemble a leg of
a piece of furniture.
2. Photograph #2 is a copy of a
photograph depicting a closer view of Douglas Scott's face and
his chest while he is still hanging from the sheet. There are
dark color stains located on his right chest area. These stains
are consistent with dripping marks, however, there is no
information about the nature and composition of these stains.
Therefore, whether or not these stains are consistent with
a blood-dripping pattern is unknown A few small darkish droplet
stains can also be seen on the upper left portion of his shirt.
Whether there were additional blood droplets is unknown.
3. Photograph #3 is a view of Cell No.8
after Douglas Scott's body had been removed from the sheet
ligature and placed on the bed, depicted in the lower right
portion of this photograph. The sheet from which Douglas Scott
was hanging has already been removed from the ceiling grate. A
stool can be seen in the lower left of the photograph, at a
location to the left of where Douglas Scott was found hanging.
This stool was not visible in Photograph #1. Whether or not there
was a stool in the cell originally, and if so what, the exact
location of that stool, is unclear. In addition, whether or not
the prison guards used this stool to take down Scotts body
is also unknown at this time.
4. Photograph #3 also shows an overall
view of the interior area of the cellblock. A window is observed
on the wall, in the cell, near where Douglas Scott was found
hanging. In the upper portion of the window the louvers appear to
be open. It appears that there are circular holes in the window
to allow for ventilation. This window appears to be an external
window, allowing for ventilation. On the wall perpendicular to
the window was an attached wall unit with a small attached
desktop and shelf below. On top of the desktop were several small
items and some dark colored article of clothing.
5. Photograph #4 is a close-up view of
the front portion of this stool. A measuring tape was placed in
front of the stool. From the tape, it shows that the height of
the stool appears to be 42.5 cm from the floor. However, in a
reference from the submitted scene reports, the height of the
stool was reported as 44cm.
6. Based on submitted documents, the following
table lists measurements relating to the scene within cell no.8
and the body of Douglas Scott.
CRIME SCENE MEASUREMENTS:
Ceiling height in
Cell Block #8
Stool in (report)
Stool in (photo)
Sheet - ligature
Douglas Scott's height Pathologists
Douglas Scott's height (Apprehension
Douglas Scott's weight (Apprehension
Report 73kg (Medium build)
Conversion: 1cm = .394 inches
* From tape measure in Photograph #4
7. Photograph #5 is a view of the metal
grate located on the ceiling of Cell No.8. The sheet that was
used in the hanging of Douglas Scott was reported as secured to
this metal grate.
Without a scale or ruler, the size of the grate
openings is unclear at this time. In addition, there is no
photograph available to depict the view while the sheet was still
attached to the grate. Therefore, the exact location where the
ligature was attached is unknown.
8. Photograph #6 is a closer view of
this ceiling grate. No screws or fasteners are visible on the
surface of this grate. The grate consists of six (6) divisions in
vertical columns and five (5) divisions in horizontal rows. The
size of the opening for each division is unclear. In addition,
whether or not any trace evidence was collected from the grates
is also unclear.
9. Photograph #7 shows Douglas
Scott 1ying on his bed after he had been taken down from the
ceiling. The following information was observed. There is a dark,
wool like blanket lying adjacent to the right side of his body
and this blanket appears to be in contact with the left side of
his body. The sheet is loosely secured around his neck.
10. Photograph #8 is a close-up view of
Douglas Scott's face with the sheet around his neck and head. The
sheet is not tightly wrapped around his neck in this photograph.
There is no T-shirt on him in this photograph. It appears that
the T-shirt has already been removed from his body. Whether this
is a re-staged photograph is unclear at this time.
11. A close-up view of the right side of
Douglas Scott's neck, after the sheet has been pulled back from
the neck, is depicted in Photograph #9. Several areas on
the left side of his neck appear darker than the rest of his skin
color. No deep groove impression was observed in this photograph.
12. Photograph #10 is a close-up view of
the left side of Douglas Scott's neck. In the midsection of the
left side of his neck, there is an area that is much darker than
the adjacent skin color
13. Photograph #11 is a close-up view of
the right side of Douglas Scott's neck. This photograph clearly
was taken after the T-shirt and the sheet were removed. There are
some areas with slight discoloration; however, no clear
impression is observed.
14. Photograph #12 depicts the sheet and
knot once removed from Douglas Scott's neck. This knot appears
folded by insertion of the end of the sheet through a loop. An
exact description of the knot style can only be made by direct
examination of the sheet. However, based on the photographs and
description in the report this is consistent with a simple knot.
Posted on 2000-06-29