Close. Bedford's break was more like half an hour, could have been more. He knocked off work at 17.02. He actually left the container outside the build-up shed about ten or fifteen minutes to five. PA103A touched down at 17.36, but would have taken a few minutes to make its way to the stand and get the doors open and so on. The container would have been sitting outside the build-up shed for at least 45 minutes, possibly close on an hour.
The conclusions of the FAI weren't quite as you report.
Originally Posted by FAI findings
What Mowatt seems to be saying is that none of the passengers was thought to have been carrying a suitcase matching the description of the bomb bag. I don't believe he ever said that none of them were carrying a Samsonite. Indeed, I believe some were. I believe Charles McKee's suitcase (which was interfered with) was a grey Samsonite.
This makes Bedford's left-hand bag very mysterious indeed. The description he gives is uncannily similar to the description of the case eventually determined to have been the bomb bag. During his forensic investigation, Hayes actually described the bomb bag variously as brown, maroon and burgundy, as well as bronze. (Its official colour was "antique copper" I believe.) So if there was no legitimate suitcase answering the description of the bomb bag, what the hell was it that Bedford saw if it wasn't the bomb bag? Of course this evidence was not led at Zeist.
It doesn't provide quite the same problem as regards the right-hand case. Bedford seems less sure about the description of that case, and while it might well have been another brown Samsonite, it might just have been "similar". I wonder if a grey Samsonite might class as "similar".
Nobody asks the Heathrow loaders if they removed any of the cases in the container when it came out on to the tarmac, and the information was not volunteered. It's very difficult to see why the point wasn't addressed, as it's clear Sandhu had a reasonable recollection of the loading. He remembered Sidhu dropping a case, and he remembered there being extra bags and seeing them loose-loaded. What is clear, however, was that the loading was very hurried due to the lateness of PA103A.