Significance Of Ligature Mark In Cases
Very often we hear of deaths due to strangulation.
Strangulation is a violent type of death due to asphyxia resulting from
the constriction of neck by means of ligature or any other means where
body is not suspended. This is also brought about by compressing the neck
by means of foot, knee or any other solid article. In a form of Strangulation
called? BANSDOLA ? the victim's neck is compressed between the two bamboos,
one placed in front and the other behind the neck, the ends of which are
fastened by the rope at the ends.
In all these cases, a mark is left behind indicating the method used to
strangulate the victim. The death occurs when the pressure applied is
sufficient to obstruct the air passages and the blood vessels of the neck.
Thus one thing is clear that a person cannot strangulate himself as he
cannot exert that much pressure on himself because
the person will become unconscious after applying little pressure on the
neck and the pressure cannot be sustained thereafter.
The close examination of ligature mark and the state of structures in
the neck region under the ligature mark provide vital clues as to the
method applied for strangulating the victim.
It is very common to find that a rope is twisted round the neck and pressure
is applied by pulling both the ends of rope in proximity to each other.
Thus such a method leaves behind a ligature mark encircling the neck once,
twice or thrice (As the case may be) and is found all around the neck.
This is circular but may be oblique if the victim is dragged after
tying the rope. There may be an impression of the knot which may be single
or multiple. The oblique ligature mark is also found in cases where the
victim is strangled from behind in a sitting position and the force used
is from backwards and upwards. Generally these ligatures are situated
below the Thyroid cartilage in the neck region.
On removing the ligature, the base of the groove will be found pale and
their margins will be reddish and ecchymosed. If this is examined after
some hours of death, this will be dry, hard and parchymentised.
Sometimes there are abrasions and ecchymosis
in the skin around, when a rope made of jute is used. The pattern of the
rope is judged from the impression of the impact left at the site of ligature.
Rope is a hard material and thus the impressions are clearly visible.
In cases where soft material like dhoti or scarf has been used, sharp
impressions are not seen but the effects of the application of pressure
at the site are clearly found out. Sometimes they are invisible, if the
material used is yielding in character like stocking or handkerchief.
In some cases, the clue is obtained from the fibers of the material used
which are found at the site.
In cases where stick or foot is used to strangle the victim, a bruise
is found in the centre of the neck and the mark of the substance used
is found. In case one stick in front and one behind the neck have been
used, the marks of bamboo sticks in real dimensions will be present.
In the common forms of strangulating the victim as mentioned above, sufficient
pressure is needed to cause death and thus changes are found in the structures
below the skin where the ligature mark is found. These changes are seen
on dissecting the neck region in the area of the ligature mark. When this
examination is done by dissecting the neck, the extravasation of blood (Accumulation of blood) in the
subcutaneous tissues (Tissues beneath) is seen under the ligature mark.
This is due to the rupture of blood vessels of the area due to the pressure
applied. Besides thus, the muscles of the
neck in the area involved are also found lacerated (Torn). At times, the
sheath of the Carotid artery (Main artery of the region) is found lacerated
and there is effusion (Collection) of blood in its walls. If the force
has effected the Hyoid bone, it is found fractured
but when present, this is taken to be the surest sign of death due to
strangulation. Similarly, the
cornua of the Thyroid cartilage may be found
Medicolegally, to say that the ligature mark
has been caused due to strangulation, it may be kept in mind that the
soft ligatures like dhoti, silk and scarf may not produce any mark. Sometimes
similar marks may be produced by wearing a collar or band in the neck
loosely and in decomposed bodies due to pressure of gases, in the region.
They may give a picture to look like a ligature mark due to strangulation.
So along with the ligature mark which may be circular round the neck presenting
ecchymosis at its basewith parchmentisation ,with the lapse of time, the effects of violence must
present in the underlying tissues like rupture of muscles and blood vessels
as well as accumulation of blood underneath, besides other characteristic
signs of strangulation in body. If the pressure applied has been great,
there will be fracture of Hyoid bone at a particular site, which is considered
as the surest sign of strangulation by some authorities.
A tip to advocates for defence in a case of strangulation
The scientific defence in case of strangulation centres
round the postmortem report itself. The advocate should look into the
findings mentioned in the report and compare them with the findings which
should be found in a case of strangulation (Particularly the description
of ligature mark and injuries to the deeper tissues as indicated in the
article ) . The difference, if any, will be of help in
defence . In case of doubt, advocate should consult
a medicolegal expert.