Asian Human Rights Commission - Douglasscott

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Introduction

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 suicides.

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 crimes scene.

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 Scott’s 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:

 

ITEM: HEIGHT (cm) HEIGHT (inches)

Ceiling height in
Cell Block #8

266

104.8

Stool in (report)

44 (42.5)*

17.3

Stool in (photo)

42.5

16.7

Bed

30

11.8

Sheet - ligature

Unknown

Unknown

Douglas Scott's height – Pathologists Report

183

72

Douglas Scott's height – (Apprehension Report)

180

71

Douglas Scott's weight – (Apprehension Report 73kg (Medium build)

5'6" (?)

 

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



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