Some of the more notable investigations that have been carried out
over the last few years are now summarised.
- Homosexual incident - where
the victim was bound up in an intricate way; he was robbed and
then viciously knifed in the back and left to die.
Victim knew who his assailant was, but it was required to prove
that the assailant had in fact tied the knots. A particularly
interesting conclusion was that it was possible to demonstrate
that the knots were able to be tied even with a knife held in
one hand, as described by the victim. As a result of a successful
investigation, this contributed to the accused being convicted
and sentenced to life imprisonment.
- Death by misadventure –
the case of a professional family man, drowned in underground
water tank. Coroner’s verdict: death by misadventure.
In this case, Mike Lucas was called to the mortuary to
attend postmortem. He was asked to examine the bindings and to
establish whether it was possible for the deceased to have tied
himself up without outside help. There was considerable speculation
from the family that this was a carefully contrived murder.
The deceased was found naked at the bottom of a ten feet deep
water tank, face down in some nine inches of water, ankles and
wrists bound together with a tight rope going up through an access
hole in the ground and attached to a garden roller. Object of
the investigation was to determine how the deceased might have
got himself into this position and whether it was possible for
him to construct the elaborate arrangement of knots in the manner
in which they were done.
After carefully reconstructing the sequence of tying the knots,
and establishing with the police that the roller had moved from
a previously lodged position, it became clear that the deceased
had successfully suspended himself above the water level, but
movement of the roller had resulted in the deceased being lowered
face down into the water. Attendance at the inquest, where Mike
Lucas’s evidence was the main submission, resulted in the
Coroner having no doubt that the deceased had not intended to
die and the verdict was death by misadventure.
- Young woman – bound,
raped and murdered in Bournemouth.
This was a case where the police suspected a known criminal, who
having been allowed out on parole, had committed this crime. A
similar crime had been committed by the suspect some ten years
previously, but in this case, the victim was not murdered. Forensic
evidence was inconclusive and the police asked Mike Lucas to consider
similarities between the manner of tying up the victim and the
use of the knots, comparing the second incident with the first.
A number of personal knot-tying characteristics were successfully
identified, as having occurred in both incidents. As a result
of the findings and giving evidence at the trial in Winchester
Crown Court, the accused was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
- Death of cell-mate
This was a case where a prisoner was found hanged within
the cell and the surviving prisoner was accused of aiding and
abetting the suicide. However, careful analysis of the ligature
and interviews with the prisoner showed that the form of knot
and the manner of tying used, could not have been done by the
accused, who was a competent knot-tyer. A formal ‘not guilty’
verdict was recorded and the case did not go to trial. In fact,
the ligature was made up with a simple slip knot, but suspended
in a manner that it could not tighten as intended.
- Student hanging in
park – suicide?
Found hanging from a tree in nearby park, this was considered
from the outset to be a suicide case. However the hanging took
place from a branch of a tree well above the ground and in such
a situation that it was considered a second person was possibly
involved. Examination of the actual knots used and images of the
tree and surrounding area and the sequence in which the knots
were tied, confirmed my opinion that no second person was involved
and that this was clearly a suicide situation.
- Local girl strangled
with scarf – suspected murder
Object of investigation was to determine whether the neck-scarf
as usually worn by the deceased could have been knotted in the
manner used, sufficiently tight to result in strangulation. It
was found that because of the actual shape of the knot tied with
several turns and the tightness of the resulting ligature, the
deceased could not have tied these knots. It could also be concluded
that contrary to what was suggested, this was not a sexual experiment
gone wrong. The force needed to secure the ligature and the severity
of application was well in excess of that required purely to immobilize
the victim. It was clearly a noose, to strangle the victim.
- Suspected suicide
- Man found hanging in own flat with wrists tied and suspended
In view of the complication of the wrists tied securely behind
the back, the SIO required confirmation that there were no suspicious
circumstances associated with this death. Careful examination
of the ligature and bindings concluded that it was possible for
the deceased to set up the ligature, with the noose accessible
by standing on the video table. It was feasible that the wrists
could be bound by the deceased and then the head positioned in
the ligature noose. Consistency in the tying of the knots suggested
that there was good reason to believe they were all tied by the
deceased and no evidence to suggest that a second person was involved.