There has been much of a discussion as to what extent Stride was lying on her left side in Dutfields Yard. Though the main witnesses, Spooner, Lamb, Johnston, Blackwell and Phillips, state that she was lying on that left side of hers, it has always been a matter of some debate.
One of the major points of discussion has been the testimony given by the fourth witness to have seen her of the five mentioned above, taken in chronological order, Dr Blackwell. The reason is that his testimony does not seem to tally with what was stated by the other four.
I have always regarded this a riddle. Since the witnesses number one, two, three and five all speak of what seems to be the same position, it would be odd in the extreme if Blackwells wordings on the case were to disclose another position of the body.
And indeed, it does not. In fact, it makes perfect sense, it corroborates the testimony given by the other four, and it finally should lay to rest any discussion whether Stride was completely on her left side or not!
Let us begin by lying Stride gently down on her left side, as was stated by the witnesses. It was P C Lamb who used this wording at the inquest, “she looked as if she had been gently laid down”. I will return to this point later on.
We have a fixed distance, reported at the inquest, between her face and the wall of the IWMEC house – about six inches, as stated by PC Lamb. The legs were drawn up, and the knees were described by Johnston as being closer to the wall than the head. We also have had pointed out to us by both doctors that her feet lay very close to the wall. “The feet almost touched the wall”, is how Blackwell describes it. Of the boots, according to Lamb, only the soles were visible.
To me, this suggests that she was lying more or less completely on her left side. And all five witnesses mentioned here confirm that she was indeed on her side, through their respective inquest testimony.
Now, we know that Mrs Mortimer pointed out that Strides legs were drawn up, “as in pain”. This would mean that they were drawn up very much. They would probably have reached, or even passed, the ninety-degree angle with the body.
The left arm was under the body, as stated by Lamb, and the right arm lay across the chest, or perhaps some way further down – Phillips states that the arm was across the belly of Stride, which would imply that it was either just that or at least deep down on the chest.
This is how I suggest that Stride lay, on her left side, close to the wall. Please observe how the body lies, as Blackwell suggested, in an oblique angle to the wall!