DNA evidence causes case to be dropped

Peter Williams QC topped off a successful legal career last week by successfully applying for the case of Zion King to be discontinued.  The Crown supported Mr Williams’ application and the Judge granted it. Zion King was charged with the murder of Chattrice Maihi-Carroll in March 2008  after the deceased was found with stab wounds …

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Cocaine on money, drug traces on banknotes

I was surprised at a news article in the English MailOnline, which states that Every British bank note is contaminated by cocaine within weeks of entering circulation. I wasn’t surprised about the cocaine issue, but about the fact that the media seemed to think this was new or unusual. I’ve been working on cases involving …

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The nasty job of identifying victims of mass disaster

How are victims of disasters like the Haitian earthquake identified if they are unrecognisable when they’re recovered from the debris? By using forensic science techniques. As with the South East Asian tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and so many other situations, dozens of bodies need to be identified as fast as possible. I …

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Meth driving

How hard is it for a Police officer to determine whether a driver might be off their trolley because of methamphetamine abuse?  Some might say that if you see it often enough, you recognise the signs. How hard is it for a forensic toxicologist to reconcile different driving behaviours as being attributable to meth use?  …

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Scientists and our opinions

This post follows on from a recent post by Grant Jacobs (Scientists on TV: referees of evidence or expert’s opinion?) and associated comments. In my opinion, if an expert is presenting information to a court, the court setting doesn’t matter, the manner in which the scientific findings are presented should be the same, regardless of …

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Nifty forensic science techniques – real CSI

How to remove a lightbulb using a kid’s dart is described as “a high tech process to remove a light bulb without damaging latent prints using a toy dart” (some dry humour is always a good thing in forensic science) – this is the sort of forensic technique that is not only interesting but extremely …

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Part 3: CSI effect/forensic science jobs

I have previously talked about how to get a job in forensic science and how CSI has skewed the image the general public has of forensic scientists (see job in forensic science, retrain, real CSI effect, speed and effect of science, job in forensic science plus others – it’s something about which I have strong …

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Blood pattern analysis – how to get started!

Blood pattern analysis (BPA) is an area of forensic science that is extremely important but extremely under-rated – people seem to have a misconception about how easy it is to “read” blood patterns (no doubt not helped by CSI!).  To become proficient in blood pattern analysis requires more than just a few tests drips cast …

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Date-rape drink spiking – is it real?

Whether or not date-rape drink spiking is a real problem or not is a debate I have been following for some years now.  An article in the UK Daily Mail suggests that it is actually a minor problem and is far out-weighed by the problem of heavy alcohol consumption (see Are date rape spiked drinks …

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The Body Farm

After having spoken with some friends and colleagues recently, it became apparent that the field of forensic anthropology was not well known. This surprised me because I assumed that everyone had heard of the Body Farm – not just the book by Patricia Cornwell, but the place for which the book was named. For those …

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