Stephen Lawrence Murder Trial Day 6: The Cross-Contamination Defence
The case against Gary Dobson and David Norris rests on forensic evidence. Both deny murder. The prosecution claims blood and hair found on the defendants’ clothing implicates them in the killing. The defence maintains that cross-contamination occurred.
The court hears from Detective Sergeant John Bevan and Detective Constable Linda Holden. They kept the Lawrence family up to speed with the investigation into their son’s death.
Det Con Linda Holden and Det Sgt Bevan visited the Lawrence home on five and six occasions, respectively, before they searched Mr Dobson’s home on May 7.
Timothy Roberts, QC, for Mr Dobson, asks Det Con Holden: “Didn’t you think to yourself ‘just a minute, I’ve been to the Lawrence household just last week. It might not be a good idea for me to be at two different scenes?’”
Det Con Holden says that she had not worn the same clothes to Dobson’s home she had worn to the Lawrences.
Says she: “It was well over a week later and I didn’t think that I had any risk of contamination and certain senior officers knew that I had been to the Lawrence family home.”
Roberts: “Are you absolutely sure and can you swear on oath that you didn’t wear the same shirt?”
Holden says she is “positive”.
Mr Justice Treacy asks her why she is so certain?
Holden: “As I said earlier I knew that I was going into a search so I chose that morning to wear clothes that if they got soiled or whatever it didn’t matter. I knew that what I wore on that morning was not the same outfit that I’d worn the week before.”
Roberts wonders if Bevan had sat down at the Lawrences home and picked up fibres on his clothing. Had he then inadvertently transferred those fibres to Dobson’s home?
Det Sgt Bevan replies: “I do not recall ever sitting down or being invited to do so. I do not think we were particularly welcome there. I do not recall spending any more than 45 minutes ever at the Lawrence family home.”
Det Sgt Bevan says he might have worn the dame clothing to the Lawrences’ house and Mr Norris’s home.
The Evening Standard interprets this as:
The parents of Stephen Lawrence made their police family liaison officer stand up every time he came to their house…
DS John Bevan told the jury it would have been “nice” to have been offered a seat
Mr Bevan said: “They were difficult visits and I don’t think we were particularly welcome there.”
He added: “I can remember some of those visits, they were difficult. I have not lost sight of the fact they must have been incredibly difficult for the Lawrence family. I don’t recall sitting down at any of them.”
Pressed by Stephen Batten QC, representing David Norris, that he must have tried to sit down and form some sort of relationship with the grieving parents, Mr Bevan went on: “It would have been nice to sit down but I would have had to be invited.
“I’m in somebody’s home in an official capacity and I would have waited to be invited. I did stand up. They had just lost their son and it was incredibly traumatic for them. My comfort didn’t really enter their minds and I’m not surprised that it didn’t.”
The Old Bailey today heard that police searched the house of Norris in Berryfield Close, Chislehurst, at around 7.10am on May 7 1993.
Detective Sergeant John Bevan had led the search team, let in through the large iron electric gate in front of the building and into the house by Norris’s mother. Norris was not home but the court heard officers were shown to his bedroom by his mother. Det Sgt Bevan told the court: “She wasn’t very happy about it.” Norris’s barrister Stephen Batten asked about the morning briefing before the search. He said: “As part of that briefing can you remember was there any discussion as to how exhibits should be handled?” Mr Bevan replied: “I don’t believe there was.
Exhibits officer Robert Crane said Gary Dobson’s clothes were first taken with him to Bromley police station where he was questioned after his arrest.
But after his interview, the clothes, including a jacket later found to carry a tiny speck of Stephen’s blood, were sent to Eltham police station, where Mr Lawrence’s blood-stained clothes had been kept only days earlier.
The case continues..