Justice For Jeremiah - Address by Human Rights Lawyer

Address Given by Human Rights Lawyer

Address given by Frances Swaine, Human Rights Lawyer for Erica Duggan, Partner at Leigh Day and Co Solicitors, on the 27th March 2007 to a public Meeting held in Portcullis House Westminster called by Parliamentarians and attended by members of the Public:

Jeremiah’s body is reported by the German Accident Investigator as having been found on the Wiesbaden Motorway on the early morning of March 27th 2003, lying beside the road. The information that the Duggan family were given about their son’s death by British police on that same day, was that he had committed suicide by running into cars on the motorway.

On the Seventh November 2003 the Coroner’s Verdict at the Inquest into the death of Jeremiah Joseph Duggan was that he had died from head injuries. The narrative Verdict was that Jeremiah “received fatal injuries when he ran into the road in Wiesbaden, Germany and was hit by two private motor cars. He had earlier been in a state of terror”.

At the time of that Inquest there had been no proper investigation by the German authorities into Jeremiah’s death. For whatever reasons, the German police took the decision very shortly after Jeremiah’s death, that he had suicided, and as a consequence very little was done in a forensic sense to establish exactly how he had died and why. No doctor was ever involved after Jeremiah died, except to feel for a pulse and pronounce him dead. No post mortem took place in Germany, although is naked body was photographed by police officers. The two drivers of the cars which were supposed to have run into him, did not give statements the time of the incident, and the cars which were photographed at the scene where his body was found have been crushed and destroyed. Strangely, the clothes that Jeremiah was wearing when he died have never been found. They disappeared before his body was returned to England. We can see from the photographs that he wore shoes covered in a light yellow sand. Where did that sand come from? Definitely not from the motorway where he was found.

Certainly, we do know that Jeremiah was greatly distressed when he telephoned his mother at 5.24 am on the day of his death. Although Erica received the call and has been told that it did not come from the telephone of the apartment he was staying in, nor from the mobile phone of the young man that was staying with him, the British police have refused to let Erica have the number from which his final call was made.

These are some of the unresolved issues which have troubled the Jeremiah’s family and friends for four years now.

The Inquest in 2203 had no independent experts appearing as witnesses. No witnesses were heard form Germany and no specialist forensic evidence was admitted outside the reports of the Coroner’s pathologist and toxicologist. As a result of the fact that here has not yet been a “full, frank and fearless” enquiry into Jeremiah’s death, independent forensic experts have been instructed to provide their views on what might have happened to Jeremiah.

The first reports, which has already been made known to the general public, was that of Paul Canning, ex forensic photographer for the Metropolitan Police. His speciality was the photographing of crime scenes and road traffic accidents. Mr Canning examined all the photographs that were taken of the scene of the death by the German Accident, and bore in mind confirmation from the German Accident Examiner, that the cars that were photographed were actually moved (although we do not know by whom) prior to the photographs being taken and prior to his arrival at the scene.

Mr Canning concluded : the view from Berliner Strasse, does not adequately support the theory that Jeremiah Duggan ran against the Peugeot and was subsequently run over by the Golf. The images show an inaccurate confusing picture of events. I do not believe that they depict how Jerry came to meet his premature and alleged unlawful death. I believe that is it is possible that Jerry lost his life elsewhere and was subsequently placed at this scene.”

He also stated that :

“I cannot reconcile the fact that there are no traces of skin , blood, hair or clothing on either vehicle, nor can I see any blood tissue or clothing debris on the road (except blood in the immediate vicinity of the body), nor any tyre marks or signs on either Jerry or the cars, to indicate that either vehicle has made contact with Jerry.”
“The Peugeot has major damage ….. but no biological traces.”
“I have never photographed a vehicle that has hit a person at speed and caused their death without there being some obvious signs that the body and vehicle have made contact.”
I have never seen or photographed a sharp dent in a car door that has been caused by an impact with a person. The dent is more likely to have been caused by contact from a heavy instrument, or even another vehicle.”
“Both vehicles show the same light brown coloured, sandy substance that is seen on Jerry’s jeans and embedded in the treads of his training shoes – yet there is no sign of the sandy substance on the road ….. it looks as though Jerry went through a significant quantity of wet sand.”

A further expert’s report was provided to us by another independent forensic scientist of 30 years experience, formerly of the Metropolitan Police. Again, he examined the photographs of the scene of the accident and the other photographs of Jeremiah’s body.

He too has concluded that “The Blue Volkswagen car shows no evidence of hitting Mr. Duggan, although there was damage to the front bumper, there were no fibres, hairs, blood or skin or any other evidence to prove that this car was involved in an accident.”
And that “the red / brown Peugeot 406 Estate car had considerable damage. He believed that the windscreen had been hit with an instrument, possibly a crow bar or something similar. There was no evidence of any fibres, hairs, blood or skin on the broken glass.”
“The offside driver’s door has been hit with probably the same instrument …. The dent in the side of the door was too sharp and pointed and therefore, could not have been made by the human body.”

He notes the wet sandy substance that was found on both the cars and Jeremiah’s clothing. But that hecould not find any evidence to show that these two vehicles ever came into contact with Mr Duggan. There appeared to be no tyre marks on Mr Duggan or his clothing”. In his view the “incident was stage managed and Mr Duggan met his death somewhere else and the body dumped in its position in the road.”

A further independent forensic examiner was instructed to review the photographs of the incident and his conclusion was that “Based on my years of experience in attending thousands of crime scenes as a forensic scene examiner, it is my opinion that the evidence that the at the scene points towards Jeremiah’s death being extremely suspicious and not a road traffic accident, it is also my view that the damage to the Peugeot car has been deliberately caused.”

AGerman engineer and forensic specialist has produced a report based upon the photographs of the incident and the notes and sketches of the positions at the scene prepared by Herr Burg (the German police accident investigator). He concludes as follows :-

“The head injuries cannot be correlated to the damage on the right-hand side of the Peugeot vehicle” “Had there been an impact or over-rolling, and considering the severe head injuries, then these traces should have arisen, and would per necessity have to have been discernible. The question therefore remains open as to from where the head injuries arise at all.”

There are two further reports by independent forensic witnesses, the most telling of which comes from a scientist whose job is primarily to use digital imaging to examine crime scenes and bodies to establish the cause of those injuries.

He sets out that :-

"As a rule, the skin of that part of the body that has been run over presents the characteristic bruising which then matches the patterns of the tyre that ran over the body, which will be significant in establishing the kind of tyre i.e., of the motor vehicle what passed over the body....................on the back side of the upper third of the back, neck and nape, there cannot be seen any injuries. Such a finding excludes any possibility that the injuries of the head of the late Jeremiah D occurred because a motor vehicle ran over the body."

"..the lack of biological traces (traces of the skin, hair, blood and other human tissues) on the scene of the traffic accident, the lack of the injuries(bruising) characteristic for passing of a car wheel over some part of the human body, massive and deep aspiration of blood in both lungs and swallowing of fresh blood and its massive presence in the stomach of the late Jeremiah Duggan, as well as the characteristic defensive injuries on both hands and hands sides of both forearms eliminate any possibility that the injuries to the head and death of the later JD occurred as a consequence of overrunning of the head by a motor vehicle."

"....an absolute impossibility to bring sustained injuries (described by Dr Shove, the Coroner’s Officer, who carried out the autopsy) in correlation with the damages on motor vehicles involved in the above mentioned accident"

An immense amount of work has been done in finding suitable independent experts and a lot of patience has been involved on the part of Erica and her family awaiting their conclusions.

Erica’s legal team in England now feel that the time is right to submit an application to the Attorney General to call for a second, or fresh inquest, as so much information was not available to the original Coroner.

Even if a different verdict is not in fact reached by a different coroner, this would not negate the request for a second inquest under s.13 Coroners’ Act 1988.

We believe now that there is powerful and compelling new evidence that a different verdict would be reached and the narrative verdict recorded by the first Coroner can now be considered wrong based on the expert reports to which he had at that time, no access. All experts cited above have expressed profound reservations about Jeremiah’s death being caused in the manner described, namely in Road Traffic Accident.

Therefore a request is being made now to the Attorney General to grant a Fiat for a second inquest, which will enable a proper investigation to be commenced in this country. A Verdict of “unlawful killing “ or a narrative verdict which casts doubt on the current German view about his death can only help to open up a full investigation by a German Prosecutor, so that we try to establish what really happened to Jeremiah.

Frances Swaine
Leigh Day and Co.
27.03.07

 

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