Artist used bodies 'hidden' by college

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The Independent Online
THE Royal College of Surgeons kept bits of dead bodies for teaching purposes much longer than it should have done and was desperate to hide its macabre secret, a court was told yesterday.

Niel Lindsay, 25, a former laboratory technician-turned-undertaker told police that a couple of days before inspectors were due to visit the premises staff would "shuffle" body parts "right and left" around the college. "We would shift all the material into storage rooms ... hiding them basically," he said.

Mr Lindsay told officers that he raised his concerns with senior staff that bodies left to science were being retained much longer than the three years allowed by special licence.

But "nothing was ever done", Southwark Crown Court in south London was told. Mr Lindsay claimed that surgical resources manager, Brian Eaton, even warned him that "should anyone find out that we were keeping out- of-licence specimens we would all in fact be out of a job. We would be fired".

He said: "I believed that nobody else was going to dispose of them in the correct manner so I took it upon myself to have them at least buried."

The "route" he chose was artist and one-time butcher Anthony-Noel Kelly, 42, who had asked him to provide bits of dead bodies to make sculptures from. Mr Lindsay estimated that he smuggled 20 items out of the college after wrapping them in black bin-liners so they did not leak.

He then shoved them into a rucksack and either handed them over to Mr Kelly outside the RCS, or ferried them by taxi to the sculptor's home.

Mr Lindsay told police that Mr Kelly paid him pounds 400 for his help, adding: "I believe morally that the body should have been buried ... a long time ago and I don't believe I have done anything wrong."

Mr Kelly, of Clapham, south-west London, and Mr Lindsay, of Stoke Newington, north London, both deny stealing "anatomical specimens" from the college between June 1991 and November 1994. Mr Kelly also denies dishonestly handling.

The court has heard that Mr Kelly, who also used to be an abattoir worker, displayed some of his grisly exhibits in London. But Her Majesty's Inspector of Anatomy, Dr Laurence Martin, spotted a newspaper article and photograph about the show and then contacted police.

As the "macabre" trial entered its third day, some of Mr Kelly's work was lined up along one wall of the courtroom. It included a gilded head and torso of an old man and cross-sections of limbs.

The jury was also taken through Mr Kelly's interviews with police. He said that after being given permission by the RCS to sketch bits of bodies to help "understand death", he discovered the college was holding on to specimens much longer than they were allowed to. They should have been "on their way to the grave" and so he decided to "intercept them" by taking body parts back to his studio to make casts from them.

He "treated them with respect" and once he had finished with them, he decided to bury the bagged remains in a field next to his family home in Smarden, Kent. He told a farmer who spotted him that he was getting rid of bits of horses.

The case continues today.