‘Foot mark found on dead man’s face’

Police parked outside the home of Frank Chivers (below) who was found dead in his flat.
Police parked outside the home of Frank Chivers (below) who was found dead in his flat.
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A pathologist investigating the cause of death of the father of a missing Blackpool schoolgirl found a footwear print on his cheek and neck, a jury was told.

Dr Alison Armour, a Home Office pathologist, told the murder trial of 49-year-old Frank Chivers, that in her opinion, such an injury was not caused by collapsing.

Frank Chivers

Frank Chivers

She also told Preston Crown Court that Mr Chivers died from bleeding on the surface of the brain, as a result of a blow to the side of the face or neck, twisting his head and tearing of an artery.

Sean Conlon, 44, of no fixed address, denies murdering Mr Chivers on August 23 last year and an alternative allegation of manslaughter.

The prosecution claim the defendant had struck him a violent blow in anger at his 15th floor, high rise flat in Walter Robinson Court, Layton.

The court has also heard that initially, his death wasn’t being treated as suspicious.

Dr Armour said Mr Chivers had sclerosis of the liver and his body was jaundiced.

A toxicology test, taken while the known heroin user was still alive, showed that alcohol and morphine (heroin) was in his system.

The court was told in Dr Armour’s opinion, there was nothing to affect the cause of death.

She said she found a patterned mark extending from the left side of his cheek and onto his neck and there were patterned marks within the red mark and there was bruising on underlying tissues.

Dr Armour said: “The size of the injury is consistent with a footwear mark and the pattern within the mark is consistent with a footwear mark.

“To me it appears more consistent with the sole of a shoe, rather than the tip”.

She recorded the cause of death as bleeding onto the surface of the brain.

There were two possible causes for such a thing happening - one being a natural event due to an aneurysm and the other an attack. However, there was no evidence of an aneurysm.

Under cross examination by the defence barrister David Fish QC, Dr Armour said she had seen many many footwear marks in her work and that on Mr Chivers was a “typical footwear mark”.

Mr Fish told her that a footwear investigation technician had looked at photographs of the mark and could not rule out the possibility that it may have been caused by some other object, force or action.

Dr Armour responded “This is not an injury due to a collapse.”

Mr Fish referred to the toxicology test which detected some alcohol in Mr Chivers’ system and a “good deal” of morphine (heroin). She agreed that such an amount of the drug could be a fatal dose in an non tolerant user.

Dr Armour was asked if Mr Chivers’ medical problems and the alcohol could have led him to lose consciousness, or temporary loss of balance.

She replied: “I feel this is outside of my area of expertise”.

The prosecution allege that Conlon assaulted Mr Chivers in his living room, after claiming that he or his friend had stolen £20 from his girlfriend’s bag.

During police interviews the defendant refused to comment.


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