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What killed Karl Henry?

Published:Monday | February 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

A projectile found in the body of a man who was killed during the May 2010 police-military operations in Tivoli Gardens was not fired from a gun, a United States-based firearms expert has concluded.

The metallic projectile, which has been measured at four and half centimetres wide by two and a half centimetres long, was found inside the body of Karl Henry, a resident of Tivoli Gardens. It was one of nine pieces of metal fragments found during postmortems.

Testifying during the resumption of the west Kingston commission of enquiry yesterday, Matthew Noedel, an American crime-scene reconstruction expert, said the fragment taken from Henry's body was "something quite different" from other objects he had seen.

"All of the other fragments that have been recovered and examined by me in this event were all small-arms projectiles. They were bullets, fragments of bullets, copper jackets, lead core and things like that," Noedel testified as he was led through his evidence by attorney for the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), Yanique Taylor.

However, he said Henry's body had nothing related to small-arms munitions.

"They [fragments] are not fired bullets, they are not fired bullet jackets or cores," he insisted.

"What we see is that it has these series of linear, I call them threads, on one side and a smooth-tapered base on the other side. This is nothing I recognise as ever being fired from a conventional shoulder-mounted rifle or a handgun. This is something quite different," Noedel testified.

"So this is some kind of projectile that has characteristics beyond small-arms fire and that represents the total amount of what I can say about where this came from," he underscored.

The Sir David Simmons-chaired tribunal has heard evidence that the army fired a total of 37 mortar rounds into three open spaces inside Tivoli Gardens during the operations that were aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

IED evidence

The commission has also heard evidence and viewed pictures of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attached to some of the roadblocks mounted throughout west Kingston by thugs loyal to Coke. Some of the IEDs were fitted with pieces of steel and other metal objects that were designed to disintegrate upon explosion.

While not confirming that the projectiles were part of an explosive device, Noedel expressed the view that they received high energy "because they were found inside a body".

"My understanding [is that] to create enough energy to breach the human body, it [requires] some kind of projectile that has achieved velocity and energy," he said during cross-examination by attorney for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Linton Gordon.

"What would cause the projectile to move so powerfully to penetrate the body?" Gordon questioned.

"Certainly, some kind of explosive energy," Noedel responded.

The west Kingston commission of enquiry is probing the conduct of the 2010 operations in which more than 70 civilians and one member of the JDF were killed.