Interline Shed Chronology

Posted long ago
last edits Feb 10 2011

In the interest of sorting out the Bedford suitcases story, below is a timeline of the afternoon around the interline shed of Heathrow's terminal three and the bomb-ruptured luggage container AVE4041.

Some notes on procedures: The interline shed in question handled luggage transferring from one airline's flight to another. Bags were placed on a single long conveyor belt sticking out of the building that took it inside for sorting. Workers from different airlines stood inside picking out bags from all airlines destined for one of their flights. Pan Am's crew consisted of a variable number of Pan Am employees who took the bags off the belt and set them in containers. Between these actions, another crew from Alert Security (a Pan Am subsidiary) would x-ray the bags for anything suspicious they could recognize (apparently a small list). Usually two Alert personnel worked in tandem - one read the screen, the other placed a security sticker on it and handed it back to the Pan Am people.

In early police interviews, Mr. Kamboj strenuously denies he'd ever place a bag in a container himself. But at trial in 2000, he recalled they would do this on occasion, as Mr. Bedford always said.

12:30 am – break-in discovered at Terminal three. No one knows if anyone took advantage of this aaccess to facilitate getting an IED suitcase into the luggage system. Thirteen hours pass.

2:00 pm – John Bedford is the lone Pan Am employee working in the interline shed.
Q … in the morning, were there other Pan Am workers helping you?
A Yes, sir.
Q By the afternoon, was it busy or quiet?
A Reasonably quiet, sir.
Q … would that mean that fewer bags were coming in?
A Yes, sir.
Q Would it mean that there were fewer workers there?
A Yes, sir.
Q And
Q By the afternoon, and say by about 2.00, were there any other Pan Am workers left in the interline shed?
A No, sir. … just myself.
[Day 44, pp 6441-42]

2:00-4:00 – Bedford and Alert employees Kamboj and Parmar together intercept, scan, and place app. 4-5 suitcases in the container Bedford selected: AVE4041.
Q Were there still people working for Alert?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you remember who?
A Mr. Kamboj and Mr. Parmar.

?? - Parmar goes home
Questions put to Mr. Kamboj by Turnbull:
Q Did Mr. Parmar stay in the interline shed as long as you did?
A Yes, sir.
Q What time did you finish; do you remember?
A No, sir.
Q Did Mr. Parmar finish at the same time?
A Usually, yes, sir.
Q And on that day, the 21st of December, do you remember if he finished at the same time as you?
A Yes sir.
Cross-examination, Mr. Davidson, minutes later:
Q Is it your recollection, Mr. Kamboj, that you and Mr. Parmar finished work on that day, the 21st December '88 --
A Yes, sir, we worked together.
Q Sorry, the red light is flashing – that you finished work at the same time that day?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q You don't remember.
A Yes.
Q Do you remember having a break for a meal or a snack of some description that afternoon?
A Yes, sir.

Q Do you remember going back to work in the interline shed after your break?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you remember Mr. Parmar leaving work at that time and you staying on?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q You don't remember. All right. [pp 6411-12]
Bedford confirms Parmar left at some point before Kamboj:
Q Who had been left in the interline shed when you went to visit Mr. Walker?
A Mr. Kamboj, sir.
Q Anyone else?
A No, sir.
app 4:10 - Bedford takes a break, 30 minutes
Trial testimony, 2000:
Q After you had put some bags into the container that afternoon, did you go to see Mr. Walker?
A Yes, sir.
Q Was that at the baggage build-up area?
A Yes, sir.
Q And did you have a cup of tea with him?
A Yes, sir.
Q How long do you suppose you were away from the interline area visiting Mr. Walker?
A I don't remember that, sir.
Q Can you give me an approximation?
A Half an hour.
[p 6446]
4:40 – approx return from break time
Bedford to police, Jan 9 1989:
"I went to see Peter Walker in baggage build-up leaving Camjob in interline. I returned about 4.40 p.m., Camjob told me two further suitcases had arrived for PA 103 which he had put in the tin. ..."
We wonder why they so closely match the case that held the bomb for style, color, and location in that very container.
4:45-55? - Bedford takes AVE4041 to baggage buildup.
Q All right. Did there come a stage when you took the container away from the interline shed?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where did you take it to?
A To the build-up area, sir.
Q Why did you take it there?
A Because that's where my supervisor [Walker] was, and that's where he asked me to bring it.
[p 6450]
5:02 - Bedford clocks out and goes home
Q Were you planning on leaving work early that day?
A No, sir.
Q What was your normal finishing time that day -- supposed to be for that day?
A I think it was 6.00, sir.
Q You weren't at -- you went off work at two minutes past 5.00, didn't you, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q Why did you leave early?
A Because Mr. Walker said the 103 would be late and take me past my time, so I could finish early.
[pp 6470-71]

app. 5:35 - AVE4041 Taken to meet 103A and filled with luggage piled on top of whatever was placed in there at interline. It's quickly loaded onto PA 103.

6:04 PA 103 departs the gate, starts taxiing (four minutes behind schedule).

6:25 PA 103 takes off from the runway.

7:02 – PA 103 blows up 38 minutes after take-off.


Rolfe said...

103A was late, I'm not sure by how much. 103 itself wasn't really, at that point. It actually pushed off from the gate only a couple of minutes after six, which was its schedued departure time. The delay came later, on the tarmac, causing the take-off at 6.25 rather than around 6.10 or 6.15 if the plane had got straight onto the runway.

So actually, it wouldn't have taken Bedford significantly beyond his normal finishing time. Though it's possible Walker didn't realise that, and thought the delay to 103A was worse than it was, and would cause a knock-on effect.

Caustic Logic said...

Hmmm... I suppose it's possible he left early for his own reasons, or that the reasons were Walker's and as stated. There wouldn't be much for him to do for the next hour but wait, and apparently he'd already had a pretty unproductive afternoon and there were others fully capable.

So I'd say knock off early is a good call. Good enough in fact Bedford might have foreseen it, given his 1/2 hour break with Walker If you're worried about wasted time, why hang out with the guy for a half hour only to then tell him to wrap it up and go home.

I'm thinking about this a bit because I'm not sure it wasn't Bedford himself that placed the bags there on his way out, after leaving it with "Camjob" a while.