A news item, from "Inside Time," No. 39, Winter 2000:
Pathologist's integrity dealt fatal blow
The Home Office has revealed that criminal cases dating back more than seven years,
involving evidence given by Crown pathologist Dr Paula Lannas are to be re-examined
following concerns brought to the Home Office Advisory Board for Forensic Medicine,
over post mortems carried out by Dr Lannas in London and SE England. She has been
suspended from duties and referred to a disciplinary tribunal.
In January her evidence
was questioned over the strangulation of a 10-month-old child. She claimed that bruises
on the neck resulted from strangulation by the mother's boy friend. The Old Bailey
jury brought a verdict of not guilty within half an hour after hearing evidence from
Dr Iain West, a leading expert in forensic pathology, that the bruising was most
probably caused by Dr Lannas herself. There was no way the neck could have been dissected
as she did it . . . so cack-handed was it that she may have caused the bruises herself.
court was also told she had allowed a mortuary attendant to remove some of the organs.
May her evidence was again questioned during the appeal of Veydat and Serena Keyretli
- both convicted of manslaughter in 1998. Before quashing the convictions the judges
heard that Dr Lannas claimed the victim had died of a stab wound and had no other
injuries. She had not disclosed a potentially fatal skull fracture. The judges ruled
her evidence totally unreliable.
Dozens of her cases are now being re-examined.
1996 she was investigated by a Home Office committee, criticised, and placed under
During the trial of Jeffrey Cattell, now serving a life sentence,
she claimed to have carried out a post mortem eight-and-a-half hours after the alleged
time of death, when rigor mortis had fully passed, but refused to reconcile this
with the fact that rigor mortis takes 24-36 hours to pass.
The trial judge would not
allow her professional opinions to be questioned, as she was a witness of exceptional
professional integrity and a leading expert in her field.
Inside Times adds that Jeffrey
Cattell wants to hear from anyone who wants further information or can give details
of Dr Lannas's cases, especially where she has given a time of death. RN2834, HMP
Swalesside, Brabazon Road, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent ME12 4AX.