Of the FBI and ESR: what can we expect forensic science to deliver?

I haven’t written a blog post for a loooong time.  That’s because in the last year or so I have written another book (Forensic Science and the law: a Guide for Police, Lawyers and Expert Witnesses – the first book of its kind in New Zealand) and have been involved in some high-profile cases including …

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Graham Norton solves a problem (nearly)

Recently I have been looking for a specialist medical expert to review a criminal case in which we have been instructed.  Specifically, an independent dermatologist (preferably someone with a paediatric speciality). Actually, I’ve been looking for five months.  Five months!  Usually we do it in 5 days, at the outside!!  In fact, much as I …

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Criminal law and the Rugby World Cup

I was at court last Wednesday to check on the progress of a trial regarding an alleged rape.  The evidence and those giving it was interesting, and that was why I was there (that’s another story altogether). What was more interesting was the fact that the judge and the barristers were working out how long …

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I met Wayne Barnes

A few years ago, I was working in England as a forensic science consultant.  I drove to Kingston-Upon-Thomas Magistrates’ Court one rainy, grim morning, fighting my way round the North Circular for several hours, not expecting my day to be any more exciting than any other day at court. The case involved a Failure to …

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Feelings about guilt or innocence of a defendent & “a-ha!”

This is part one of the answers to the competition set up by Grant Jacobs to win a copy of my recent book, Expert Witness. Katie Brockie was the distinguished winner and her questions and my answers are: Do you develop strong feelings about the guilt or innocence of a defendent in a trial in …

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Drug wraps and Schlieren lines

Life is spooky: it was interesting to see the blog post about Schlieren imaging by Physic Stop‘s Marcus Wilson because it reminded about this simple yet effective technique that I have not seen in use in New Zealand (yet) and related directly to a conversation I had yesterday with my crime scene consultant. We were …

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Bones: animal or human?

Although this isn’t really my area, some of my colleagues work with interesting ‘things’ that are found at crime scenes or what turn out to be crime scenes, namely bones. A huge amount of police time can be taken up in tackling the problems of ‘stray’ bones found by members of the public or unearthed …

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Mouth alcohol 2/interfering substances

OK, so alcohol can get lodged in dental plates but is there anything else that can adversely affect an evidential breath alcohol reading? I’ve had another two queries about this, so I thought I’d add a bit more information. Some sprays, such as nitrolingual sprays used to assist with certain heart conditions, and some asthma …

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Getting grotty with insects (not for the squeamish)

Some forensic scientists have jobs the rest of us could never even imagine, never mind do straight after breakfast.  Take forensic entomology for example.  Its use in suspicious death cases is well known through authors such as Patricia Cornwell and through programmes like Bones and the many versions of CSI, particularly Las Vegas where Grissom …

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Drugs & children’s hair

It was very interesting to read the results of ESR’s recent media release: Hair samples reveal P lab kids’ long term exposure to methamphetamine.  I’ve seen many cases involving meth labs and manufacture, using swabs from surfaces to determine whether or not methamphetamine could have been manufactured in a given location.  Using hair analysis results …

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