Scarring on liver may have had role in death

Denis Witney

Denis Witney

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

FORENSIC experts have said scarring on a homeless man’s liver may have contributed to his death.

Denis Witney, 39, was found dying in St Clement’s Street, East Oxford, on November 8 last year.

He had suffered more than 20 injuries to the abdomen, head and neck.

Mr Witney was taken to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, where he had a heart attack and died.

But giving evidence at Oxford Crown Court on Monday, forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt said Mr Witney also had cirrhosis of the liver, which played a “minor” role in his death.

Dr Hunt said Mr Witney had 26 different injuries to his body when he examined him.

Three people are accused of Mr Witney’s murder, which the prosecution alleges followed an assault in a house in St Clement’s.

Wayne Cattell, 37, of Mortimer Road, Rose Hill, Daniel McCollin, 30, of Blay Close, Blackbird Leys, and Joanne Moriarty, 29, of Mortimer Road, Rose Hill, all deny murder.

Dr Hunt said Mr Witney’s cause of death was a combination of blunt force injuries to a number of areas including the abdomen, head and neck and also cirrhosis of the liver.

He said: “Cirrhosis of the liver is associated with abnormalities in the blood causing injuries to bleed much more heavily than they would do.

“This factor should be considered in at least a minor role in bringing about his death.”

Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver as a result of continuous, long-term liver damage. Scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the liver and prevents the liver from working properly.

Dr Hunt also described bruising and lacerations on Mr Witney’s head and neck and one litre of blood was found in his abdomen.

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He said that a lager can would have been capable of causing the injuries on the face and of the injuries to his abdomen.

The doctor added: “Kicking or kneeing could cause such an injury.”

“There may have been some kicking and stamping to cause some of the other injuries.”

Of the injuries to Mr Witney’s face, Alan Kent QC, defending Cattell, said: “While the blow made be hard enough to cause lacerations, it was not hard enough to cause fractures.”

Mr Witney was discovered outside Marcus Roberts’ Pianos in St Clement’s Street, East Oxford.

The three suspects were arrested at about 5am the day after Mr Witney’s death at McCollin and Moriarty’s home in Mortimer Road, Rose Hill.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.

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