‘Payback 7’: sternum blow may have caused heart failure; multiple stab & puncture wounds; no evidence of genital burns

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DAY 4updated April 3, 1.30pm.
 
By KIERAN FINNANE
 
There was no evidence of burns to the genital area detected at autopsy, forensic pathologist Dr Eric Donaldson told the Alice Springs Magistrates Court today. Dr Donaldson gave his evidence by video link from Hervey Bay. He provides forensic pathology services to the forensic unit at Royal Darwin Hospital as a locum and conducted the autopsy on Kumunjayi Pollard over two sessions on February 20 and 21, 2013. The attacks on Kumunjayi Pollard at Ilparpa Camp and Charles Creek took place on February 18 and his body was discovered in the evening of February 20.
 
Although established decomposition made it more difficult than usual to interpret what had happened to the deceased Dr Donaldson said he could not detect burns, nor smell flammable liquid.
 
He also said he had no difficulty extracting pubic hair from the deceased for analysis and did not note any absence of pubic hair.
 
When the issue of possible burns to the genitals was raised during the investigation he asked Dr Terence Sinton to re-examine the body and Dr Sinton similarly could not detect any eveidence of burns.
 
Neither was there evidence of anal laceration.
 
Toxicology showed .129% blood alcohol in a chest cavity fluid sample. In Dr Donaldson’s opinion a small part of this may have been due to decomposition but the majority was likely due to ingestion prior to death. He said a more expert view than his would be required to say whether the blood alcohol level would have been higher prior to death.
 
Of the six head injuries documented, none were likely to have been lethal. There was no intra-cranial haemorrhage.
 
Significant blood loss or “violent exercise” could have contributed to heart failure. The deceased had a fractured sternum, which defence lawyer Russell Goldflam referred to as “an unusual injury to the chest”. He asked whether a severe blow to the sternum, given the deceased’s “stenosis” (narrowing of blood vessels)  and artereosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) could also have caused a fatal heart event. Dr Donaldson said such a sudden severe blow could cause death.
 
There were two stab wounds in the back, above the buttock. There were also “a number of other stab and puncture wounds,” with the great majority in his opinion caused by a sharp edge.
 
The court has previously heard that the cause of Kumunjayi Pollard’s death was “multiple traumatic injuries”.
 
The hearing continues.

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