Anorak News | Stephen Lawrence Murder Trial Day Day 5: Was The Forensic Evidence Contaminated?

Stephen Lawrence Murder Trial Day Day 5: Was The Forensic Evidence Contaminated?

by | 21st, November 2011

STEPHEN Lawrence Murder Trial Day 5: Today at the Old Bailey

The court sees pictures of Lawrence’s bloodstained clothing. On the night of his killing, Stephen wore a black jacket, blue cardigan, red polo t-shirt and green corduroy trousers.

The jurors are shown police surveillance photographs of Gary Dobson and David Norris outside a house in Eltham after the killing.

The court hears from Graham Cooke, then a detective constable:

“In my opinion he [Dobson] was nervous at the time [of questioning].”

Dobson was 17. Police visited him at his home at 13 Phineas Pett Road, Eltham, south London. Had Dobson been at the crime scene?

“Dobson said no, he was at home all night studying. He arrived home from college at 5.30pm, that his mother and father were indoors at the time. He said that he did not know the victim, he had heard about the incident from the papers.”

What the police saw:

Det Con Cooke told the jury that he spoke with Mr Dobson for about five minutes before continuing his house to house enquires. At 6.20 he saw Mr Dobson and his girlfriend go into a house at 102 Bournbrook Road, the court heard. The jury has already been told that Jamie and Neil Acourt lived at that house. The jury has also been told that when Mr Dobson was arrested on 7 May 1993 he told the police that Jamie and Neil Acourt were among his closest friends, but he denied knowing David Norris.

Mr Dobson told officers that he “had heard the name mentioned once or twice…but did not know who he was and had not met him.”

The jury was shown pictures of Mr Dobson and Mr Norris leaving the Acourts’ home together.

Robert Crane, a detective constable, takes the stand. He was working as an exhibits officer at Eltham police station in 1993.

He says he was potential for cross-contamination.

But he said there was no written procedure for ensuring that evidence was not contaminated and those handling the clothes wore gloves, but not the white forensic suits used today.The jury heard that exhibits were stored in a disused cell in the building, and there were no designated forensic retrieval or packaging areas.In cross-examination by Timothy Roberts QC, who represents Mr Dobson, the court was told that exhibit bags could be left open while officers were waiting for a photographer. Mr Crane said he was not aware of any special procedures to prevent fibres or fragments being passed on to an exhibit by a police officer when they opened and resealed package

Timothy Roberts, QC for Dobson: “What were the anti-contamination procedures in a police station in 1993?”

DC Crane: “Gloves… if you were in a contained crime scene, you would have over shoes available. But you didn’t have the white suits at that time unless you had a specific examination by a scientist who had come out of a laboratory.”


Roberts: “What anti-contamination procedures were in place to ensure that, as officers wrapped packages with tape did not pick up other contaminants from the surface, perhaps where things were photographed or from their own clothing. Were there any specific instructions issued?”

Crane: “Not that I am aware of”

Detective Constable Steven Pye collected Lawrence’s personal items from hospital after he died. They had been placed in plastic bags. He says he wore rubber gloves to transfer them to paper bags.The bags were not sealed. The blood was still wet and might damage the bags. Any wet items are taken to a drying room.

Timothy Roberts: “Is the upshot of all of this, however it happened, that the clothing from Stephen Lawrence that was most heavily blood stained, and therefore might contaminate other things, remained in unsealed packages whilst you dealt with it?

Mr Pye: “The most heavily bloodstained would appear to have been placed in paper sacks and [the top of the sack] folded over, yes.”

DC Pacholuk took Stephen’s clothes out of bags and put each item on individual hangers inside a the drying cabinet with a ground sheet below.

The forensic facts matter:

The court has already heard that the case against Mr Dobson centres around a speck of blood on the collar of his jacket. The chances of the blood not being from Stephen Lawrence are one in one billion, the jury was told.
Fibres, possibly from Stephen’s clothing, were found on Mr Dobson’s cardigan, the court heard. Mr Norris’s sweatshirt contained fibres which were possibly from Stephen’s polo shirt. On Mr Norris’s jeans were tiny strands of hair which matched Stephen’s hair. The defence says that the likely explanation for this is cross contamination of the items while they were together in police custody.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, both from south London, deny murder.


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Posted: 21st, November 2011 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink