The Autopsy On Clarke Pearce,
And Ram’s Second Appeal:
Some Critical Comment
By far the two single most important documents which refute the claims of Ram’s army of liars are the post mortem report (autopsy to our American friends) and the transcript of the judgment of the second appeal. The former was obtained by Mrs O’Neill after I suggested that she write to the Coroner; it was provided without charge. I was not hopeful that she would be given this, even as Clarke’s next-of-kin, because previously I had tried to obtain a report of an inquest from the St Pancras Coroner in London relating to a death in 1964; I was refused. (1)
Although it is written in medical language, this report gives a fair indication to the layman of the nature and extent of the injuries that Ram and his army of liars claim were inflicted in self-defence with a pen knife. (Or a paring knife or “a little Stanley knife” depending on which particular liar is talking). (2)
Some scholarly if reserved comment on the autopsy report by an American doctor has been included.
One thing that did bother me was that Mr O’Neill said that Clarke had been stabbed in the groin, and there is no mention here of a knife wound to the groin. That raises the possibility that he had been lying. When I asked him about this in a telephone conversation on June 7, 2001 he said only that he remembered blood coming from Clarke’s groin. As there appears to have been blood almost everywhere in what was a very chaotic scene, and as Mr O’Neill has never claimed that he saw Ram stab his brother-in-law, that is a reasonable explanation.
I spoke later to Mrs O’Neill about the transcript of the judgment, and she was not pleased with some of the errors and lies which she says have found their way into it. Firstly, a warning about transcripts.
As I know from my own experience, a transcript is not necessarily an accurate report of what the judge said, (3) even though it may have been approved by, or even written by, the judge. I am thinking in particular of two transcripts to which I had personal access. One, a transcript of evidence, contained a number of spelling mistakes, (4) and even the odd misattribution. The other was not a transcript as such but a case stated, which contained a large number of factual errors, all of which were to the detriment of the appellant. On reading it I was left wondering if we had been listening to the same case. In spite of repeated requests, the judge concerned refused to correct any of these errors. (5)
The current transcript contains a number of, albeit minor, errors. For example, at page 14, the phrase “if the evidence showed that the deceased caused these injuries” should read, obviously: “if the evidence showed that the appellant caused these injuries”. In places too the punctuation could be improved.
The second point to note is that the appeal judges appear to have taken what might be called a worst case scenario as far as the Crown is concerned. They have accepted that Clarke started or may have started the altercation; they have accepted that he threw the proverbial first punch; they have accepted that Ram was provoked. And they have still upheld the conviction. In other words, they have been generous, indeed some would say magnanimous, towards Ram. This bodes ill indeed for any future prospects he may have of overturning his conviction.
In a telephone conversation with the current writer on June 23, 2001, Mrs O’Neill commented extensively on the evidence accepted by the Court of Appeal. (Her comments are included below).
She denied emphatically that her brother had used the phrase “black crap” about the music. He simply didn’t talk like that, she said. She emphasised this point by stressing again that Clarke worked with both Asians and blacks, and that he numbered several of them among his drinking pals. And that many attended his funeral.
Added to this is the not unimportant fact that “black” music and Asian music are two entirely different entities, and it is not likely (though not of course impossible) that an ordinary English working man would have failed to draw such a distinction, at least under such circumstances.
Clarke did not lurch towards Ram’s table; Ram came over to their table, and then Clarke stood up. Both Mrs O’Neill and her husband are emphatic that Clarke never struck Ram with a glass. There remains though the fact that Ram was cut, and that this relatively minor facial injury required three stitches. Didn’t she realise that Ram had been cut? No. What did she think he was doing in the toilet with Schneider? Washing off the blood. Mrs O’Neill said that she herself was covered with (her brother’s) blood.
Again, it must be stressed that this was a scene of utter confusion, that initially Mr O’Neill for one did not realise that Clarke had been stabbed, and that the restaurant staff were more concerned with ensuring that the party paid for their meal than in tending to the injured man. Mrs O’Neill did not see Ram leave the restaurant, but nobody appears to have tried to stop him. As Ram was drunk and still holding the knife with which he had just stabbed an innocent stranger, that was hardly surprising.
The claim that Clarke lurched towards Ram’s table implies that he was the worse for drink, a claim that is made overtly later on. This she denied emphatically. She pointed out that Clarke had been drinking with his friends the previous night, and that this could account for most of the alcohol in his body. The night he was murdered he had drunk four or five glasses of wine, and no beer. The last time she saw her brother drunk was the night he became engaged.
Clarke did not shout or say “You don’t talk to me like that”.
Mrs O’Neill said that Ram and/or Shinji did call them white bastards (which in today’s hysterical climate of “anti-racism” would undoubtedly be construed as racial abuse, even accepting that another “white bastard” [Schneider] was dining with the two Asians). There is no mention in the transcript of Ram’s comment about not liking Paki music.
Mrs O’Neill denied that her party was “quite rowdy”. This sort of claim though is often a subjective rather than an objective assessment; a diner who laughs loudly at a joke might equally be described as “quite rowdy”.
At pages 2-3, the impression is given that Clarke struck Ram and that after some delay, Ram attacked him in murderous fashion, which of course rules out self-defence.
At page 3, Mark Trace is said to have claimed that someone from Ram’s table threw a glass at Clarke, and that Clarke was being restrained. Again, it is possible to reconcile this evidence with that of Mrs O’Neill, if one accepts the sequence: glass thrown, Clarke attacked, then someone trying to assist him. Whatever, this is not terribly important. At page 4 is an interesting revelation: Ram gave a false name at the hospital, which indicates tentatively that he knew he was in big trouble, in spite of his inebriated condition.
On page 6, Ram’s comments to the police further dispel his “ignorant Paki” facade; the words “geezer” and “gaffer” aren’t exactly Halal (or the Sikh equivalent). His vague plea of amnesia over the actual incident would of course be insufficient; drunkenness is no mitigation to murder, much less a defence.
At page 7, the concession that the judge’s summing-up was fair is at odds with the propaganda of the Free Satpal Campaign. Except, of course, where they claim that Mr Justice Ognall was surprised at the verdict!
The reasons Ram was advised by Draycott and Linehan not to take the stand are spelled out clearly. Any advantages of giving his version of events would have been more than nullified by even the most cursory cross-examination. As far as he gave any explanation for the knifing of Clarke Pearce, this explanation stood on its own; it was totally at odds with all the other eyewitnesses, including Schneider, and most tellingly with the forensic evidence. It is one thing to claim that an eyewitness, or several, are mistaken or lying or a combination of both, but how do you challenge forensic evidence of this nature, especially in view of the defence conducting a second post mortem?
At page 8, it is pointed out that Mr Justice Ognall’s summing-up contained one (fairly serious) mistake, but that this could only have assisted the defence. This relates to one of the knife wounds. This error was repeated at Ram’s first appeal, but this is excusable as it was dismissed at the leave stage and the Court did not hear any expert evidence.
At page 14 of the transcript the Court points out that no witness had said in his or her committal statement that he or she had seen Ram hit Clarke with a glass, but that when Mr Ahmed, the restaurant manager, gave evidence, he told the jury that he had seen such a thing. Obviously if the jury accepted this, it would further weaken Ram’s already shaky claim of provocation. And self-defence?
At page 27 of the judgment the Court states that “Mr Ahmed certainly gave no picture of the appellant in a situation struggling to save himself and acting reasonably in self-defence.”
A striking feature of the evidence of Clarke’s party is that it wasn’t uncompromisingly against Ram. For example, at page 17, the evidence of David Lea says that Ram and Clarke were swearing at each other and he thought they were throwing punches. This contradicts - to a degree - the evidence of Mrs O’Neill (who said her brother didn’t swear once and that he was not restrained by anyone) so it is likely that Clarke said something or perhaps several things which she didn’t pick up on. Again, this is only to be expected under the circumstances.
At page 20, while the Court of Appeal accepted that there had been a fight, it went on, at pages 21-2 to reject, as obviously untrue, Ram’s claim about using a pen knife defensively.
In some countries, an accused is taken back to the scene of the crime and asked to re-enact it. In this country, juries sometimes visit the crime scene. (6) Any attempt to re-enact the stabbing of Clarke Pearce in order to exonerate Ram would be futile: he has against him not just eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence but the laws of physics.
Again, the suggestion (at page 31) that Clarke was the worse for drink and looking for trouble is dismissed by Mrs O’Neill as simply untrue: rubbish was her preferred word. (7) The same though could not in all honesty be said of Ram.
Finally, at pages 30-1, the Court dismisses the suggestion that Ram over-reacted to what could have been a racially motivated attack.
The findings of fact of the Court of Appeal, or more accurately the facts the Court of Appeal accept as proven, differ substantially from the evidence given by Mr O’Neill and especially by Mrs O’Neill. But there is a canyon wide gulf between the facts accepted by the Court and the claims of Ram and his supporters. Even the evidence given by Ram’s defence witness Evelyn Schneider does more for the prosecution than it does for the defence, and the evidence of the Asian witnesses is positively harmful. That being said, having spoken to Mrs O’Neill particularly many times, I am convinced that her version of what happened is nearer the truth.
In the first instance, every time I have spoken to her she has told me the same story, To the best of my knowledge, the only claim she has ever made to the contrary is her claim in an angry letter to the Sunday Express newspaper in December 1999 in which she referred to Navinder Shinji glassing her brother. This is not true, although it appears that Clarke was indeed hit with a glass - thrown by Ram!
The fact that Mrs O’Neill’s evidence conflicts to a degree with other apparently equally reliable evidence may indicate that she simply did not see or take in everything that happened, but it is just as likely that other witnesses were mistaken.
Exactly how mistaken even a scrupulously honest witness can be is given by the following anecdote.
At some point in one of our telephone conversations, Mrs O’Neill said that Michael Mansfield QC had been present at the second appeal and that he had been assisting the Crown. I thought this very unlikely as Anthony Barker QC who prosecuted Ram also acted for the Crown at the second appeal, (8) and I couldn’t see the Crown engaging two QCs. Are you sure, I asked her, more than once. Positive, she replied, not only that, but one of her sons recognised him too. They saw Mansfield on TV and were certain that he had been at the second appeal.
After the conviction of Barry George for the murder of Jill Dando I wrote to Mansfield and mentioned this to him. In his reply he denied categorically that he had been at Ram’s second appeal. (9) There is of course no suggestion that Mrs O’Neill was lying, but this demonstrates yet again the frailty of eyewitness testimony (including and especially identification evidence, which is not an issue here). (10)
Another point which to me is indicative of Mrs O’Neill’s basic honesty and trustworthiness is a comment she made in one of our recent telephone conversations. When she was waiting to give evidence at the trial, another prosecution witness who had already given evidence went up to her and they exchanged a few words. She was then approached by a court usher who told her that the trial could be stopped. Mrs O’Neill was surprised and said that she hadn’t realised that she was not supposed to speak to other witnesses. (11)
August 4, 2001
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