by Sushi for the Saker blog
Part I may be found here: https://thesaker.is/a-curious-incident/
Part II may be found here: https://thesaker.is/a-curious-incident-part-ii/
Part III may be found here: https://thesaker.is/a-curious-incident-part-iii/
Part IV may be found here: https://thesaker.is/a-curious-incident-part-iv/
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
Let us begin where it all ends. In the Graveyard. This is the London Road Cemetery located just a few miles to the North of central Salisbury. Image A is a picture of the entrance as seen from the London Road. Note that there are no gates, no means of closing the cemetery grounds to vehicle traffic, no signs to prohibit entry.
Image B is an overhead shot of the same entrance area but from the reverse angle. London Road runs along the top of the image. It is immediately clear that there is significant tree cover leaving the access road dappled in shadow. The trees not only create places of concealment, they also serve to attenuate sound and to restrict lines of sight.
Image C is an oblique image looking toward the NNW. The entry road runs in diagonally toward a turning loop. A second access road branches to the SW and appears to dead end before reaching the cemetery perimeter. The perimeter itself appears to be densely planted. This would obscure exterior sight-lines and also serve to muffle the sound of a pistol shot.
If you intend to murder, the London Road Cemetery offers all the requisite features to facilitate the crime: opportunity for concealed observation of the target, unrestricted access, good reason for encountering strangers, few visitors, and different routes of escape.
In Part III the cemetery was described as the likely place of attack by a single aggrieved individual, Skripal had few known contacts other than Pablo Miller, the Salisbury resident who recruited him into MI6. Both Skripal’s wife and son were interred at this location. Sergei Skripal was known to be a man of habit. It is quite possible that his weekly routine involved a Sunday morning visit to the grave-sites, a visit which gave him the opportunity to reflect on a happier, much less lonely time.
During this period of contemplation it would be relatively easy to approach from behind and deliver a double tap with a .22 pistol. The gun would burp twice before the assailant slips quietly away. Part III proposed an alternate mode of attack in which the cemetery gave covert access to Skripal’s red BMW. With less than a minute of work, a powdered organophosphate toxin might be placed within the car. The assailant immediately exits the scene and has sufficient time to depart Wiltshire, or even to depart England, before inhalation of the toxin causes the inevitable incapacitation of Sergei Skripal and raises the alarm.
Any state agency which sought to eliminate Skripal would first monitor him, learn his movements, catalog all of the locations to which he travelled, and sift through this list of sites in search of an optimum location – quiet, secluded, not too many people, obscured lines of sight, ease of approach, no CCTV cameras, many exits. The London Road Cemetery offers all of these elements. A state actor could easily add poison to the car and be departing Heathrow before it first took effect. That is the chief reason for using a poison. It offers greater opportunity for escape than use of a firearm. But even if you elected to use a firearm, the London Road Cemetery remains a highly attractive venue.
Why would a state actor attempt to end Skripal’s life on a pedestrian mall in central Salisbury? Such a central location delivers the near opposite of the optimum conditions available at the London Road Cemetery.
The reader is invited to place his / her own observations in the comments but the only perceived advantage to conducting an attack at the Maltings is that it offers an opportunity for disaster porn, a form of political theatre in which men with Moon Suits (see Image D below) wander the city centre while massive army lorries rumble about collecting numerous automobiles, each one carefully cocooned in a plastic shroud. There are images on the Web of central Salisbury in the days after the attack. These show public squares bordered by a wall of popular restaurants with not one single person visible at the height of the lunch hour. If the intent of the Skripal attack was to inculcate fear in the population it achieved that effect.
Image E is taken from Castle Road and shows the exterior of the Zizzi restaurant which is closed and under guard. Since the Skripals and Detective Bailey were likely all under medical sedation and unable to speak, it is presumed the restaurant was identified through a bill, or a credit card charge slip, found in Skripals wallet.
Notice that the streets are wet. It rained on March 4 at 1950 and rained again on March 5 at 2050. The rain is a significant factor in these events. If the toxin was applied in powder form then any rain, fog, mist, or drizzle, would serve to wash it away and eliminate the trace evidence. This also holds true if the toxin was applied in liquid form. The only nerve agent known to be engineered for a significant degree of persistence in VX which is a thick liquid. It is so thick that the problem arises of ensuring satisfactory dispersal on the intended target. The FOLIANT program created derivatives of VX.
To the left of the image, adjacent to the light standard, may be seen the building which contains the Market Walk pedestrian arcade. We will return to Castle Street later in this series of images.
Image F is an image of the crime scene. This was taken on March 4th moments after the “air and land ambulances left the scene with the two Russians at about 5.10pm.” There is something unusual in this photograph. I will let you examine it and draw your own conclusions before I present mine.
Image G was taken on March 5th after the crime scene barriers were relocated. A tent has been erected over the bench on which the Skripals were reportedly found. On this side of the tent an adjoining pathway leads to the left of the image. On the edge of this pathway there is a low fence barrier. This low fence barrier, and its jog to the left, is clearly visible in Image D.
Image H is the same image as depicted in Image F. The only difference is that the image has been magnified and then cropped to provide a better view of the critical detail.
Immediately to the front is the crime scene tape, the barrier erected by the police to mark the area within which the crime occurred. This barrier is placed to ensure the preservation of forensic evidence critical to the case. The photographer has approached the police barrier from the north. His picture has its central point of interest a police car parked with its boot open. This police car is parked outside the police barrier line. This may be verified by viewing Image F which shows a portion of a second police vehicle to the image left. This car is being used to supplement the tape in that area to prevent public access to the crime scene.
Note that the photographer is free to walk to the right toward the benches and there is nothing to stop him seating himself on the benches. Both of the benches are outside of the police line and there is no evidence of any police tape along the main walkway to the right.
But if you compare this image with the picture of the Moon Men in Image D, you quickly recognize that the forensic tent was erected over a bench visible to the far right of Image H.
Image I is a 400% enlargement of Image H. The image is starting to break down due the JPEG compression artifacts which become visible at this degree of magnification. You can see the crime scene tape running round the tree trunk. Just above, and to the right of the trunk, can be seen the bench upon which the protective tent shown in Image D is being erected.
The location man be verified by the pathway running off to the right and the jog in the low fence which turns to follow the line of this second path. The car that can be seen is not a police vehicle. It is painted in the livery of the ambulance service.
I leave it to the reader to make his / her own interpretation of this set of images. Earlier mention was made of political theatre. One gets the sense that someone has lost the script and a little outside prompting may be required.
Image J shows the exterior of the Zizzi Restaurant. This was taken before the date of the attack. The building to the immediate left of the restaurant is better seen in the next image.
Image K shows the full exterior face of the building which contains the Market Walk arcade in which was located a CCTV camera which captured the Skripals on the evening of March 4th as they walked past it at 15:47:45.
It is reported that the Skripals departed Zizzi at 15:35. If that is correct then it took them a total of 12 minutes to travel from the white Zizzi door on the right of the image to the arcade entrance to the immediate left of the street sign and walk halfway down to the CCTV camera. Twelve minutes seems to be a very long time to walk past a single building facade.
Maybe we have our locations wrong. Image L shows a close up of the arcade entrance. The signage clearly indicates that this is the entrance to the Market Walk arcade and the same brown and tan tile pattern is seen on the floor. This matches the floor tile in the CCTV image,
There exists the possibility that the Skripals departure from the Zizzi restaurant was a best estimate. Human beings make all sorts of range and duration estimates. We are not as precise as machines which is why we surround ourselves with machines. The CCTV date and time stamp of March 4 15:47:45 is likely to be accurate.
Image M presents the last walk of the Skripals. Based on Google map imagery at the 10 meter scale, each bar is 10 metres in length. The first bar is positioned outside the Zizzi entrance and then proceeds due South toward the Market Walk arcade entrance. Few people walk in an absolutely straight line so there is some degree of error in this depiction.
Approximately 25 meters from the Zizzi entrance a second set of red and white bars show the route through the arcade. The location of the CCTV camera is estimated to be at the 40 meter mark. The evidence provided by the CCTV time stamp is that the Skripals went past the camera at 15:47:45 and were discovered on a park bench by a passerby at 16:04:00
From the CCTV location to the jog around the G&T store is another 40 meters. The jog is another 10 meter distance and then the distance to the park bench on the west side of the little gazebo structure is about another 10 meters. This analysis is imprecise. We do not know the exact route walked by the Skripals. We can, however, be sure they did not walk in straight lines and, like all humans, would have taken the most direct route from the bridge exit to the park bench area. It is also not possible to determine the exact area of the crime scene as this appears to have been relocated some 15 meters west of the original location depicted in Image F. The measured distance from the Zizzi entrance to the site of the attack is 125 meters.
|Zizzi entrance to Market Walk Entrance||25 meters|
|Market Entrance to CCTV||40 meters|
|CCTV to G&T jog||40 meters|
|G&T jog to Bench area||20 meters|
|Total Distance walked||125 meters or 337 feet|
Using data available on the Web it is determined that the average human male has a stride length of 2.5 feet (30 inches). The female of the species has an average stride length of 2.2 feet.
The average walk speed for a human being is 1.4 meters per second. According to Wikipedia walk speed can vary depending on height, weight, age, terrain, surface, load, culture, effort and fitness. The average speed of 1.4 meters per second will be used in these calculations.
Zizzi to CCTV
65 meters / 1.4 = 46.4285 seconds. Call it 46 seconds
CCTV to Bench
60 meters / 1.4 = 42.857 seconds. Call it 43 seconds
Total elapsed walk duration = 46 plus 43 = 89 less 60 = 1 min 29 seconds
The couple is reported to have departed Zizzi at 1535. The calculated timing would therefore place them in the bench area at 15:36:30. This creates a conflict with the time stamp shown on the CCTC which recorded their passage at 15:47:45.
If we discard the portion of the route from Zizzi to the CCTV camera and create a time line with a start point of 15:47:45 and a walk duration of 43 seconds this places the Skripals in the bench area at 15:48:32.
Total elapsed time from arrival in bench area to first notification to emergency services is 15 mins 28 seconds. Even if the walk time estimate is doubled, this still results in a period of 14 minutes from when the Skripals arrived in the bench area before the emergency services received notification. There was a further 11 minute interval before the first responders arrived on scene at 16:15 and the victims were not removed to hospital until 55 minutes later at 17:10.
The emergency care delivered to the Skripals during this period is not known. It is highly unlikely that emergency medical service personnel would have diagnosed them as suffering from a military grade nerve agent. The first emergency aid would involve intubation and placing both Skripals on a ventilator. Yulia Skripal is reported to have been airlifted to hospital. It is not known why both victims were not airlifted [update – reporting from March 4 states that Skripal was conscious when transported to hospital but his daughter was unconscious]. The on-scene medics would likely have been in communication with a hospital physician as, apart from an immediate need for ventilation, it is unlikely an EMS technician would be able to undertake a more comprehensive diagnosis. From MSM reporting it appears it was not until the afternoon of March 5th that there was some awareness that this incident involved something beyond a recreational drug overdose. While there appears to be some discrepancy over the timing of events, there is no evident disagreement over the fact the nerve agents created as part of the FOLIANT research program are 8 to 10 times more potent than VX (in one report Vil Mirzayanov. claims the newly discovered nerve agent is 100 times more potent than VX}.
A single drop of VX on the skin is sufficient to result in death within one minute if there is no immediate administration of an antidote.
The nerve agent reported to be used in the Skripal attack is 10 times more toxic, perhaps even stronger than that.
How is it possible for the Skripals to still be alive?
Does the fact of their longevity provide evidence that they were not attacked with a nerve agent 10 times more toxic than VX?
Does that imply May has been misleading the British and global public about these events?
We opened this article with a review of the advantages of making the attack in the London Road Cemetery. It is believed that would be the location selected by any competent state actor. The fact that a less than optimum location was used indicates either a wholly incompetent state actor, or an attack undertaken with the deliberate intent of arousing the maximum amount of fear in the populace. What we are examining is not a dodgy dossier. It is an extremely dodgy attempt at an assassination undertaken in the most inept possible way.
The question is why?
Many persons commenting on the Saker blog, and in information sources other than the MSM, have made statement similar to the following:
While scanning for news that morning I noticed that all of the MSM had basically the same text to describe the event, but in a few cases different headlines, mainly dependent on which side of the Pond they came from. I skipped them, they seemed too coordinated.
This lack of critical coverage on the part of the MSM reduces your ability to come to your own conclusions with respect to the truth. This is a critical issue both with respect to an understanding of this Curious Incident, and to the proper functioning of any democratic polity.
The Saker does not tell me what to write. But he is generous enough, and sufficiently concerned over the current state of geo-strategic chess, that he makes these, and other articles, freely available to a global audience. I see he is presently making an appeal for donations to help defray the cost of hosting the site. I am paid nothing, but I do have an IT background and IT is not inexpensive. I ask that if you find this series informative that you support the site.
The Saker has not asked me to make this request.
Part VI concerns framing issues. This involves deliberate manipulation of public opinion.
Part VII presents the motives of the attacker.
In memory of David Christopher Kelly, CMG (14 May 1944 – 17 July 2003)