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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Excerpts of Mark Shields interview
Mark Shields
Mark Shields says lessons will be learned from Mr Woolmer's case
The death of Pakistan's cricket coach Bob Woolmer cast a huge shadow over the Cricket World Cup, especially when Jamaican police announced that he had been murdered.

Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields gave an interview to the BBC to explain why it is now believed that Mr Woolmer actually died of natural causes.

WHEN DID POLICE REALISE THIS WAS NOT A MURDER CASE?

"I think that finally when we had the reports of the experts.

It's been a relatively long couple of months - the investigation - and as I said from the very beginning the important thing is that we keep an open mind.

And it would be very easy - as it was for others - to jump to conclusions about the investigation to their peril.

We chose to do it properly; to do it professionally, which meant that we would wait until we had the advice and the reports of others.

And so I think that certainly when we received the first report which contradicted [the initial] report, in that Bob was manually strangled, clearly that was a very strong indication that it wasn't, as had been reported previously.

But at that stage, with only two reports that were so diverse, I thought it was absolutely critical that I should seek a second opinion on that as well and indeed we ended up with three opinions all of which were unanimous that Bob died of natural causes."

WHO WAS INVOLVED IN THE REVIEW OF MR WOOLMER'S DEATH?

"We invited the Metropolitan Police in at an early stage to conduct a review, which I think was a positive move.

We also invited the Pakistan police, on the invitation of the Jamaican government, to come in and also to work alongside us to look at how the investigation was being conducted.

So it always was, as we said it would be, a very open investigation and one where we would seek the help from our international partners in order that we could get to the truth and that's the important thing."

WHAT ABOUT REPORTS OF A BROKEN BONE IN MR WOOLMER'S NECK?

"That is unfortunate because the report that I received initially was the hyoid bone is fractured and in most cases of strangulation, the hyoid bone would be fractured.

I was not pleased though that the bone remained in Mr Woolmer's body and so I instructed my team, the pathologists and a forensic scientist to go back and actually retrieve it from his body in order that it could be photographed and properly examined.

We got it x-rayed and the fact is that the bone wasn't broken in the first place."

HOW WOULD THIS FACT HAVE AFFECTED THE CASE IF IT HAD BEEN UNCOVERED EARLIER?

"Well of course it would have entirely changed the course of the investigation because we were given information that it turned out to be incorrect.

The fact is that we were told that the bone was broken, had I not taken the decision to have it retrieved from the body, then we may still be in a position of never knowing the truth in relation to that."

WOULD THERE STILL HAVE BEEN A MURDER INVESTIGATION IF THERE HAD NOT BEEN OTHER OUTSIDE AGENCIES INVOLVED?

"Only six months ago we introduced colour digital photography into the Jamaican constabulary force because for years they'd been using black and white photography.

Now that's in terms of technology a major step forward here which I'm really pleased because it has paid dividends.

Had we only had black and white photographs of Bob Woolmer's post-mortem, then it would have been totally impossible for a second, third or fourth pathologist to have given a really educated view on what had happened to him."

WHAT LESSONS WILL THE JAMAICAN CONSTABULARY HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS INVESTIGATION?

"Well clearly, I think embarrassment is not an expression that I would use.

We were given a set of facts and circumstances to investigate under the glare of the world's media and they were there, as you know, from the very beginning.

We were under the microscope - we were given an opinion and it's my job not to second guess the pathologist, or indeed to disagree with him, which I think would have been grossly arrogant on my part and also very unprofessional.

My job is to go and seek the truth. We were given a set of circumstances that were categoric, we conducted a thorough, professional investigation, so I do not think that the JC have anything to be embarrassed or ashamed of.

But clearly lessons can always be learned from every single investigation."

WHAT WILL THOSE LESSONS BE?

"Well, I think in this case, it certainly means that we in Jamaica have to ensure that we have proper pathology facilities in order that we can conduct one, two and three post-mortems in order to ensure that everyone's work can be checked.

We achieved that because we asked - or I asked - for that work to be done.

And thank goodness that we did that. If we hadn't done that, as we've mentioned previously, maybe some years ago we may have been hunting a murderer for some time that actually didn't exist.

So again for the sake of the Woolmer family I am very pleased at the outcome."

HOW HAVE THE CONVERSATIONS BEEN CONDUCTED WITH MR WOOLMER'S WIFE GILL?

"Gill Woolmer and I have had many conversations since Bob died and I became involved in the investigation.

I've kept her informed of every single turn within this investigation, all the way through to the final outcome and indeed, as you know, I travelled to South Africa, to Cape Town, to see her.

We did that for two reasons: one is in terms of good practice in terms of family liaison it is very important to actually meet with the family.

At that stage, it wasn't conclusive in terms of the result and therefore it was critical that she and other members of the family and friends should be interviewed to try and establish if there was any motive out there had it been a homicide, and equally of course in terms of welfare.

I think generally speaking, they are so relieved.

I think that it is clearly horrendous if anyone's life is brought to an end at the hand of another. It's bad enough that Bob died at a relatively young age anyway.

But I think they are relieved to know the truth and that is something which we have always set out to do."

HAS THE INVESTIGATION ACTUALLY GONE WELL BECAUSE THE MYSTERY HAS BEEN SOLVED?

"I'm pleased with the outcome of course. I think it's of course very tragic and sad for the family that it has taken this long.

Having said that, we've moved as quickly as we could - we've interviewed over 400 people, 250 witness statements have been taken, we've had co-operation from our colleagues in the United Kingdom, Pakistan, South Africa and other countries within the Caribbean.

So it has been a huge policing effort and I think in some ways I'm pleased that we've done it as quickly as we could, but of course if the beginning had been different, then perhaps it would have been unnecessary."

DO YOU THINK THE PAKISTAN CRICKET BOARD HAVE GROUNDS TO SUE THE JAMAICAN POLICE?

"During the whole time the Pakistan team were here, we treated them with utmost respect and sensitivity because obviously they'd lost their coach in the most tragic circumstances and through their co-operation we were able to conduct all of the inquires with them at the beginning.

I can remember many conferences where people were saying, are you going to arrest the Pakistan team, are you going to stop them leaving the country, are they suspects?

And at no time did we make any suggestion of that at all and we weren't with the Pakistan team and thought that the co-operation between both the management, the team and us was excellent.

So I would be very surprised now if there are any complaints after the event."




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