BETHANY HILL MURDER TRIAL Court told of catalogue of knife wounds

Bethany Hill and the flat on Hertford Road where she died. Main photo: Mark Williamson.

A FORENSIC pathologist has described the catalogue of knife wounds inflicted on Bethany Hill on the night she died.

Dr Olaf Bierdrzycki, a specialist in the interpretation of injuries, carried out a post-mortem on Bethany’s body on 6th February last year.

During his evidence Dr Bierdrzycki said there were two modes of death, the loss of blood caused by  the cutting of Bethany’s jugular vein, and blood flowing into her airway.

He also described a large complex of wounds to the back of Bethany’s neck and indicated that the deepest of these could have been inflicted after she died, or shortly before when her blood pressure was low.

He said the fatal wound, which ran for 9cm in one direction before running for a further 3cm, cut through the large strap muscle and the jugular vein behind it.

The wound continued down to Bethany’s trachea, damaging the surrounding cartilage, and allowing blood to flow into her airways.

Dr Bierdrzycki confirmed that he had found blood in the airways and lungs ,and that it was this injury which most likely led to Bethany’s death.

He said: “If it had just been the jugular vein she would have had quite a lot longer. With the hole in the airways and blood going into the airways, she would have lost consciousness fairly rapidly, it could have been tens of seconds rather than minutes.”

Dr Bierdrzycki said the injuries to the back of Bethany’s neck were a complex of interconnected straight and curved cuts.

The most serious wound measured 5.5cm long and was 2cm deep at its deepest point.

He indicated that because this layer still appeared very yellow, the wound could have been inflicted when Bethany was suffering from other wounds shortly before she died, or after her death.

Referring to the main deep wound on the back of Bethany’s neck Dr Bierdrzycki said: “I can’t tell you how any passes of the blade would be required to create this complex of wounds, but it was clearly quite a number.”

When asked to qualify this, he said it would have required at least two draws of a blade to make the main wound.

Dr Bierdrzycki stated that Bethany had an incision ten centimetres below her shoulder on her left arm, an injury he said was consistent with somebody trying to defend themselves.

The doctor also explained that there were abrasions to Bethany’s neck to one end of the fatal wound caused by blunt force.

When pressed he said the injury could have been caused by Bethany trying to remove somebody’s hands from her neck, though there were other possible explanations for the injury.

Dr Bierdrzycki said he also encountered a large bruise on the left side of Bethany’s head.

He said the injury could be consistent with an everyday accident such as hitting your head on a cupboard door, though could also indicate that Bethany’s head may have hit a wall.

Earlier in his evidence the doctor said he had observed a number of wounds on Bethany’s arms and legs, consistent of somebody who had self-harmed.

Most of these wounds had healed though there were a number of newer ones on her thigh, and he said that after examining these wounds he was confident that these later wounds would have been inflicted at least 12 hours before her death.

The trial continues.

See Thursday’s Stratford-upon-Avon Herald for a two-page special report from Warwick Crown Court. You can also download an e-edition of the Herald from 9am on Thursday by CLICKING HERE