CRIMINAL APPEALS

Forensic Access has been growing its reputation for its work in Criminal Appeal cases over recent years, and we are now receiving increasing numbers of such Appeal cases:

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We have received instructions on over 20 Criminal Appeal Cases in the past 5 years

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Most of these have been by referral

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We are now receiving a continual flow of Criminal Appeal requests from various sources:

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Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC)

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Solicitors & Barristers who have valued our expertise in other cases

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Police

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Private individuals

We are very pleased to receive such instructions and, in conversations with our customers, they tell us they bring such important cases to Forensic Access due to:

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Our growing reputation, for the quality of our work, in the Criminal Justice System

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The only source of concentrated forensic science expertise over a multitude of scientific disciplines

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Our forensic scientists having between 15-40 years’ experience of working on such complex cases

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A distinguished track record in solving unsolved cases (“cold cases”)

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Our team having worked on most of the highest profile cases in the UK, in recent years

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Forensic Access being truly independent: we work for the Defence and the Prosecution
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We are quality accredited (we were the first defence-based business to receive the international ISO 17025 quality accreditation – the foundation of the Forensic Science Regulator’s Codes Of Practice)

 

 

APPEAL CASE EXAMPLES

Example Cases Involving DNA & Blood Distribution

Derek Barron was convicted of stabbing his estranged wife to death in 1995.  He stated he had gone round to her house, found her injured on the floor and attempted to perform first aid.  Blood was present on his clothing including spots of blood on the front of his jacket.  At the original trial it was thought by both Forensic Experts that a lack of blood on Barron’s knees and cuffs went against his account of kneeling and giving first aid.

An aerosolisation expert believed the spots could be the result of blood expirated from the wounds or mouth and the case went to Appeal. We investigated the blood patterns.  Our expert, Clare Jarman, postulated that it was not possible to tell whether the blood was from performing first aid on a bleeding person, or assaulting her, or a combination of both.

The prosecution scientist said first aid was less likely due to the lack of blood on the knee area. However, statements from attending police officers at the time stated that when they arrived Barron was on his hands and knees performing first aid.

It is thought the sleeves of his jacket may have pulled up as he stretched his arms and he had stated that he had pulled a jacket under his knees to kneel on as he has bad knees.   Officers described wounds on the chest vibrating and making a “raspberry” type noise. The case was successful at Appeal and Barron was released.  Subsequently, a retrial was held and Baron was re- convicted.  In our view this case highlights the dangers of over interpreting the absence of evidence.

Christopher Docherty-Puncheon worked as a gamekeeper with Frederick Moss.  Mr Moss went missing in 2004 and has never been found; Docherty-Puncheon was convicted of his murder.  It was suggested that he had shot him, dismembered and burned the body parts.  Small amounts of blood that could have come from Mr Moss were found on a knife, a hacksaw and on a Range Rover.

Our expert, Clare Jarman, highlighted that it was not possible to say how or when the blood could have got onto these items and as they used to go hare coursing together Mr Moss may have bled on one or more of these occasions.  Docherty-Puncheon’s Appeal was not successful and he has since been convicted of another unrelated murder.

Omar Benguit Appeal: although we were originally instructed by solicitors, the case was eventually awarded to us by CCRC. Omar Benguit was convicted in 2005 of the murder, by stabbing, of 26-year-old Jong-Ok Shin in 2002 but claimed he was innocent.

Benguit’s legal team claimed that Miss Shin could have been killed by Danilo Restivo. Restivo was jailed earlier that year for the murder of Dorset mother-of-two, Heather Barnett, and as he was local and there was potential for similar evidence being noted this was a reasonable defence. Hair was found at both scenes.

Our expert, forensic biologist Caroline Crawford, was initially requested to examine the hair to determine whether it was pulled or not and then to undertake mitochondrial DNA profiling in order to address from whom the hair could have come. In addition, we undertook examinations for blood and then touch DNA on the clothing of Restivo to determine whether or not there was any evidence that he was involved in the murder for which Benguit had been convicted. Caroline found no indication of this. Benguit subsequently lost the appeal against his conviction.

Example Cases Involving Fibres

Simon Hall Appeal: This Appeal was heard in the Royal Courts of Justice in 2010. Simon Hall was jailed for life in 2003 for murdering Joan Albert, of Capel St Mary, Suffolk. The presence of large numbers of fibres on her night clothes, which were said to match fibres located in Hall’s wardrobe, was key to the original trial.

The source of the fibres has never been found. Our expert, Roger Robson, was instructed as an arbiter to review new evidence which appeared to undermine the value of the original findings. This proved to be a particularly detailed scrutiny of the evidence presented by two other credible experts. The Appeal Judges considered the prosecution to be safe. In February 2014 Simon Hall was found dead in his prison cell – suspected to be suicide.

Barry George Acquitted For The Murder Of Jill Dando: After two trials, two appeals and eight years in jail, Barry George was cleared of the murder of the BBC television presenter Jill Dando in 2008. Forensic Access was instructed during the re-trial of George in 2008 to look at the fibre evidence presented by the prosecution. Subjective evidence involving residues which the prosecution said was gunshot residue had already been ruled out by the Judge as unreliable. In scientific terms there was one link remaining – textile fibres.

There was only one fibre, a black polyester fibre which the prosecution purported had come from a pair of trousers recovered from George’s flat. Our fibres expert, Roger Robson, showed that the fibre was common, and a realistic possibility of being a chance match. He also highlighted that the prosecution scenario made little sense of events as George was said to be wearing a long black overcoat made of fibres that shed profusely – none of these fibres were recovered on the victim. The trial ended with George’s acquittal on 1 August 2008.

Appeal Cases Involving Fibres: it is interesting to note that we have noticed a recurring theme where textile fibres were centric to the original conviction. It appears that the prosecution’s evidence does not appear to have been robustly challenged at the original trial, usually due to inappropriate defence experts being instructed who, we believe, have not been experienced enough to know what to scrutinise.

Our fibres expert, Mr Roger Robson, is the most experienced fibres expert in the UK, and his services are increasingly in demand for such cases.

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