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July 7th People's Independent Inquiry Forum > The 7/7 Inquests > The Identification Commission

Title: The Identification Commission

amirrortotheenemy - May 1, 2010 03:11 AM (GMT)
The Hardest Count
By ANDREA GERLIN Sunday, Jul. 17, 2005

Benedetta Ciaccia, 30, an Italian-born business analyst, was among thousands of commuters on the way to work on July 7 as suicide bombers blew themselves up on three London Underground trains and a bus. Her friends and relatives have not heard from her since, and she was not among the 47 victims who had been positively identified nine days later. "We're still waiting," Fiaz Bhatti, Ciaccia's fiancé, told TIME last week. During the wait, scores of police, medical and forensic experts were engaged in the grim but necessary task of trying to establish the identity of the victims — which is why Bhatti has been telling police about the birthmark under Ciaccia's left eye.

Friends and relatives are spreading such details in hopes that some aspect will help identify the missing: Karolina Gluck, a 29-year-old administrative worker from Poland, has a pierced belly button and carries a London 2012 Olympics key ring; health-care analyst James Mayes, 28, who was identified late last week, had hazel eyes and short brown curly hair.

As recovery crews and police investigators continue their work, forensic experts in surgical scrub suits are trying to identify the bodies of the dead at a makeshift mortuary at a military barracks in east London. The work inside the white marquees has been slow, painstaking and complex, leading to criticism from families of some of the missing. Graham Russell, whose 28-year-old son Philip died on the bus, spoke for many when he told reporters: "Any delay is crucifying people."

The experts are sympathetic, but argue that the identification process has been complicated by several factors. One of them is sheer size: in a typical year, London has only about 200 murders, so this attack represents a homicide wave. Second, bodies were severely damaged by massive explosive forces. And finally, coroners are desperate to get things right. After 58 tourists were gunned down in a 1997 attack in Luxor, Egypt, by contrast, some bodies were misidentified and sent to the wrong countries. Andrew Reid, one of two London coroners overseeing the identification process, has warned that it might take weeks for all of the bodies to be recovered and identified. "We understand the distress," Reid said, while stressing the importance of returning "the right victims to the right families."

Though London has no experience with suicide bombers, the recovery and identification efforts are drawing on a growing body of international expertise. Police chiefs in Israel, where more than 500 people have died in suicide bombings in the past five years, describe Britain's Forensic Science Service as the world's best. Scotland Yard's officers have also been gathering experience. After last year's Indian Ocean tsunami, the Yard sent officers to Thailand to help match information about British victims. Others traveled to New York City to observe mass casualty identification procedures after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

There is a protocol to such tasks. Standard international procedures begin by designating the mortuary site and forming an Identification Commission. In the London case, the commission is headed by Reid and the Westminster coroner, Paul Knapman, who led the inquest into a 1996 IRA bus bombing that killed the perpetrator; it also includes Metropolitan Police Service officers, forensic pathologists and dental experts, who act much like a tribunal in ruling on identity. Commission members study information provided by friends, relatives, doctors and dentists of the missing, and compare it to their own postmortem findings from victims' bodies, clothing and personal effects. All bodies are photographed, X-rayed and visually examined; some undergo a full autopsy.

The most reliable clues to a dead person's identity are known as primary criteria — fingerprints, dental records, DNA or implanted medical devices marked with a serial number. DNA matching is the gold standard; it requires comparison between DNA from human remains and that found, say, on a hairbrush or toothbrush belonging to the missing person, or with a close relative's DNA. The family of a woman still missing last week, 27-year-old Rachelle Lieng Siong Chung For Yuen from Mauritius, provided police with her toothbrush. Chris Hadkiss, a manager with Britain's Forensic Science Service, says his laboratory has so far analyzed DNA samples only from the suspected bombers. But he says it's "inevitable" that the lab will get around to studying DNA from victims whose bodies prove difficult to identify by other means.

Dental records are highly reliable; in many of the inquests that opened last week, they were cited as the basis for identification. The same was true after last year's tsunami. Pornthip Rojanasunan, a Thai forensic scientist who named 2,400 of the roughly 6,000 who died in Thailand, says, "The most useful method in identifying [tsunami] victims was their dental records." Coroners also rely on possessions — clothing, footwear, jewelry, watches, eyeglasses, together with scars, moles, birthmarks, tattoos and identity papers the person may have been carrying.

But for all the potential evidence available, Israeli experts expect that identifying the London victims will be very difficult. "Everything will be new to them," says Azi Zadok, head of the Israeli police's Forensic Science Division. "An exploded bus can be full of melted and burned bodies in large numbers with body parts scattered everywhere ... The bodies can be completely dismembered, with many parts scattered over hundreds of meters."

Even without such gruesome details, for those still missing relatives or friends, every passing hour is agony. "We have not heard anything," says Billy Chung For Yuen, Rachelle's husband. The uncertainty is only prolonging his suffering.


Blasts may have been pipe bombs
13:17pm 8th July 2005

The government's Forensic Science Service London manager Chris Hadkiss said his staff were "ready and waiting" to help.

Mr Hadkiss said: "We are ready and waiting to assist. The main focus of the
authorities is on the crime scenes at the moment.

"But our full range of forensic resources is ready to be deployed to provide
urgent analysis if and when required."

The Forensic Science Service is an executive agency of the Home Office,
supplying forensic science services to police forces in England and Wales.


amirrortotheenemy - May 1, 2010 03:58 AM (GMT)
Richard Reynolds

Richard Reynolds is a Detective from the Counter Terrorist Command (formally known as the Anti-Terrorist Branch) based at New Scotland Yard, London. He has over 20 years experience as a Police officer, working within the Metropolitan Police Service. For the past 8 years, he has been attached to the Branch. He forms part of the Forensic Management Team within the Command. He is a scene examiner and exhibits officer, with core responsibility for bomb and scene examination, the retrieval, packaging and handling of all exhibits seized during a Terrorist related enquiry. He is the current forensic coordinator and exhibit officer for Operation Theseus (7/7 bombings). He is responsible for the coordination and submission of over 33,000 exhibits currently obtained on the enquiry, of which over 6,000 have been submitted for various forensic disciplines.


amirrortotheenemy - May 19, 2010 11:59 AM (GMT)
The President introduced Dr Andrew Reid, HM Coroner, Inner North London, who presented his talk on “Normal for London” (NFL) – Coroner’s Cases From St. Pancras and Poplar, 2002-2006.

Dr Reid explained that the title of his talk was based on his experiences whilst training in Nottingham. When observing post mortems he had been puzzled by the expression “NFI” – subsequently explained as “normal for Ilkeston”. Trained as a forensic Histopathologist, he then trained as a lawyer and following a spell in various law firms, became Assistant Coroner for Nottingham. In 2002 he was appointed as Coroner for North London.

One of his first cases concerned a planned public autopsy by Professor Gunther von Hagens, whose Body Works Exhibition in had been shown in London earlier that year. Despite attempts to stop the public autopsy, Professor von Hagens and Channel 4 were determined that it would go ahead, using the legal argument that there was no law whatsoever that made a public autopsy illegal. Unfortunately he had forgotten the Coroners Act of 1988 when he said that the body was that of a girl who might be pregnant and might have died of epilepsy or suicide, which effectively raised the question of unexplained death and usurped the function of the coroner. A public autopsy did subsequently take place, but on a 75 year old German businessman who was said to have given his consent for the public post mortem.

The case of body 115, an unidentified person who had died in the Kings Cross Fire in November 1987 was another of Dr Reid’s very early cases. He explained how in 1987 the police had tried to identify the bodies by using primary evidence such as dental, fingerprints, and surgical devices with serial numbers, and secondary evidence such as scars, tattoos, hair, clothing, jewellery and documentation. At that time, DNA was not an established science. The evidence suggested that body 115 was a man aged between 40 and 60. Included in the evidence was an unnumbered aneurysm clip. A 15th anniversary service for the fire’s victims was held in November 2002, which prompted Mr Fallon’s family, who lived in Scotland to renew their inquiries about the body's possible link to their father. Permission was sought to exhume the body leading to legal disputes about whether the Coroner had power to authorize this. In the meantime however, detailed police enquiries relating to the aneurysm clip and subsequent checking of hospital records finally confirmed the identity of the body and revealed that Mr Fallon was aged 72 the time of his death.

Dr Reid described various other cause celebres in which he had been involved, including identification of the bodies of the victims of Anthony Hardy, the Camden Ripper, who had decapitated two prostitutes; their bodies were found around and in Hardy’s flat but the heads were never recovered. ID criteria included surgical enhancement code numbers and DNA.

In 2003 he was involved the inquest of Roger Sylvester. Sylvester had died in police custody in 1999 following restraint, having been found naked and banging on his own front door. The inquest verdict was unlawful killing which was subsequently overturned by the High Court; in 2007 the Independent Police Complaints Commission recommended not taking any disciplinary action against the officers involved. One of the results of this case was the recommendation to replace the term “Excited Delirium” with that of “Acute Behaviour Disorder”.

Another case which Dr Reid inherited was that of the death of Harry Stanley, who was fatally shot by the police in 1999 whilst walking home from the pub. Mr. Stanley was shot on suspicion of carrying a gun, which turned out to be a table leg in a plastic bag. The first inquest was held in 2002, juridical review in 2003, a second inquest in 2004 and further judicial review in 2005. Issues involved re-investigation of the shooting, new evidence, expert evidence on ballistics from Bill Lewinsky and a virtual reconstruction of events, leading to the CPS finding there was insufficient evidence to lead to a prosecution.

One of Dr Reid’s most severe challenges was the London bombings of 7 July 2005. There were 52 victims and 4 suspects. A state of the art mortuary was used, with digital radiography, digital teeth imaging, fluoroscopy, finger prints and DNA. Identification of the victims was made based on ante and post-mortem evidence and taken to an ID commission. No viewing of the victims was permitted until the ID had been established.

One of his recent high-profile cases was the death of Alexander Litvinenko in November 2006. Dr Reid described how the initial cause of death was thought to be thallium poisoning but subsequently established as polonium radioactivity. He described how the police had detected a trail of radioactivity across London.

Dr Reid concluded his talk by outlining the work of Inquest, an organisation which supports families involved in the Coroner’s process.


amirrortotheenemy - May 19, 2010 09:33 PM (GMT)
Trying to add full names to the following witness statements re: incriminating evidence on Tanweer and Khan


Appendix A : Summary of Evidence (Pages 27-28)

1.1 Binstead

1.2 Swift (Andrew Swift of Just Car Clinic)

1.3 Copper and Wilson (Detective Constable Malcolm Wilson)

1.4 Wilson, McDonald (Andrew John McDonald of Orchid Cellmark?), (Beverley)? March and Clayton

1.5 Meneely (Andrew Meneely of Met Police's Counter-Terrorism Command?) , McDonald and March

1.6 Binstead, Cheesley

amirrortotheenemy - June 7, 2010 11:22 AM (GMT)
From Times Online
July 10, 2005
Whole world in a wounded city
Maurice Chittenden

THE posters switch from a yellow face to a white face to a black face.

A walk along the front of King’s Cross station tells the story of London’s diversity. This is the whole world in a wounded city.

The enormity of the attack hits home one photograph at a time, individual lives and dreams perhaps gone for ever.

The terrorist attack may have claimed almost as many tourists and workers from overseas as British people. Yesterday those missing feared dead included 22 Britons and 14 foreign nationals or people born overseas.

In an eerie reminder of the aftermath of September 11 in New York, some of the relatives stalk the streets showing photographs of their loved ones to anyone who will stop and listen. They go into hospitals and to police stations.

At King’s Cross they have pinned up photographs and posters appealing for information about the missing. The notices are dotted on bus shelters, builders’ hoardings, walls and lampposts.

Some of the flyers tell poignant life stories. Others are just snapshots of faces with a name and a mobile phone number.

Pawel Iskrzynski, 30, a chef from Poland, has taken the photograph of his sister Ania Brandt, 42, to the Royal London hospital and to television studios in the hope of learning what has happened to her.

She vanished while on her way by Tube from her home in Wood Green, north London, to a cleaning job in Hammersmith, west London.

As she was on her way to work, her daughter Natalia, 22, was arriving in London for a holiday and her first reunion with her mother since she left Poland three years ago to work in London.

“It is very harrowing,” said her brother. “The police have just been to see me to take a sample of my DNA. I hope it is to prove that Ania is still alive and lying injured in hospital.”

A poster of another Polish woman, Karolina Gluck, 29, is on the hoardings outside King’s Cross station. She, too, came to London to work three years ago.

“Karolina is still missing,” says the notice, which goes on to describe her as a “white female, short blonde hair, distinct blue eyes, 1.6m, belly-button piercing, Polish nationality (speaks very good English)”. The photograph shows her seated outside a restaurant in a white body warmer.

Richard Deer, her boyfriend, works for an architecture firm in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. He confides more information when you meet him. The belly button piercing is a St George cross design and the couple were planning to go to Paris the day after the bomb blasts.

“She loved living in London, she absolutely enjoyed it,” he said. “We’re trying to keep strong and we’re still hopeful. I’m still searching.”

Anat Rosenberg from Israel was talking to her boyfriend John Falding while on a bus on her way to work. He heard the blast and the terrified screams before the phone went dead.

Falding said yesterday: “The irony of all these terrible things is she was afraid of going back to Israel because she was scared of suicide bombings on buses. And if she ever saw a package that was unattended, she’d go absolutely wild. She was so security conscious.”

Another of the missing is a woman who as a child survived the Lockerbie murders of December 1988, when a bomb aboard a Pan Am jet detonated in mid-air, sending wreckage plummeting onto the Scottish town.

Helen Jones, now 28 and an accountant working in London, was a pupil at Lockerbie Academy when the plane came down, killing all 259 people on board and 11 local residents.

There is anger among some of the relatives that the police are not being quick enough to identify the dead.

The family of James Mayes, 28, an analyst for the Healthcare Commission, said they had not had a single visit from the police, only a phone call saying that they may have to supply DNA to identify him. [didn't Hasib Hussain's family have a visit from the police on the 9th?]

His sister Rachel Mayes, 31, a primary school teacher, said: “It’s our own personal hell. They are putting us through purgatory here. I feel so numb. I just don’t know what to think at the moment. I want someone to tell my family what’s going on, but I just get spoken to like I am a mentally deficient three-year-old by everyone I speak to. I wouldn’t speak to kids in my class like that.”

The area in front of the “missing” notices at King’s Cross is fast becoming London’s single largest memorial to those who died or are missing.

Throughout yesterday people came to the station to pay their respects and leave flowers and candles on the pavement.

Maria Esposito, an Italian who lives in London and whose husband spent three hours trapped underground after the bombings but was uninjured, erupted in anger as she laid a bouquet. “I am shocked. I am really, really shocked. In no Bible does it say it is right to kill innocent people,” she said.

Jesse Honey, a student from Tooting, south London, stuck a Union Jack flag to the wall above the floral tributes. Across the middle of it he had written “we are all Londoners” and around the side the names of the major faiths — Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Muslim, Buddhism and Jewish.

“I think it’s more important now than ever to emphasise the fact that Londoners come from all (faiths) and there is absolutely no way that the attack will change that,” he said.

“Whatever ideas are in the minds of the bombers, they are completely opposed to everything Londoners hold dear.”


Yet over 70% or all, differs according to source, of the victims were identified from dental records.

DNA used to identify 7/7 bombers’ bodies

Investigation into deaths expected to last two years

BODIES of three suspected July 7 suicide bombers could only be identified through painstaking DNA analysis, St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard on Monday.

Bus bomber Hasib Hussain and Tube bombers Germaine Lindsay and Shahzad Tanweer were described by coroner Dr Andrew Reid as “passengers”, as inquests cannot apportion blame for deaths.

Police believe Hussain blew up the number 30 bus in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, killing 13 people.

Lindsay is believed to have exploded a bomb on a Piccadilly line Tube train near King’s Cross, killing 26 people, and Tanweer the bomb on the Circle line train near Liverpool Street which killed seven people.

Dr Reid heard how the body parts of Hussain, 18, and Lindsay, 19, were formally confirmed by the Identification Commission, headed by Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman, on July 13 and 15.

Dr Reid said: “The senior investigating manager is carrying out further DNA investigations into body parts and fragments of human tissue identified by DNA analysis as Mr Hussain’s.”

Dr Reid gave Hussain’s and Lindsay’s cause of death as “injuries caused by explosion”.

He added: “(Lindsay’s) torso was identified by DNA analysis (and) further investigations have been conducted into other body parts.”

The inquest heard how the death of Tanweer, 22, had initially come under the jurisdiction of City of London coroner Paul Matthews but had been transferred to Dr Reid, who said: “(Tanweer) died as a result of multiple injuries caused by an explosion.”

The three inquests were opened and adjourned pending police inquiries.

Interim death certificates were issued for each of the deceased.

They will be passed to the families by coroner’s officer Sharon Duff. The deaths could take up to two years to be investigated before the inquest can be concluded.


From the ISC II report

– 10 July – Pathologist reports suggest that the men later identiied as HUSSAIN, KHAN and LINDSAY were in possession of, or in close proximity to, the bombs at the times of the explosions.
–11 July – Pathologist report suggests that the man later identiied as TANWEER was in possession of the bomb at the time of the explosion.
–12 July – Checks of CCTV from Luton railway station point to the involvement of Jermaine LINDSAY. He becomes a key suspect.
–13  July – Wife of  Jermaine LINDSAY  reports her husband missing and  that he knew the occupants of the address in Lees Holm which she had seen being
–13, 15, 16 July – DNA analysis conirms that TANWEER had died at Aldgate, HUSSAIN  at Tavistock  Square, LINDSAY  at Russell  Square  and KHAN  at Edgware Road.

Theoretically all four deceased, and the strongest case is for Lindsay and Tanweer, should have been assigned a number from the Identification Commission.

From the Metropolitan Police Bureau Press Statements thread

Saturday, July 16, 2005


After continued forensic work we now believe we have identified the four men who travelled from Luton and were later seen on CCTV at King's Cross shortly before 8:30am on Thursday 7th July.

We can now confirm the identity of a third man who travelled from West Yorkshire and who died in the explosion at Edgware Road. He was Mohammed Sidique KHAN, aged 30. We believe that he was responsible for carrying out that attack.

We can also now confirm the identity of a fourth man who arrived in London with the three men from West Yorkshire and then died in the explosion between King's Cross and Russell Square underground stations. He was Germaine LINDSAY, aged 19. We believe that he was responsible for carrying out that attack.

We have previously named Hasib HUSSAIN, aged 18, who died in the explosion on the bus in Tavistock Square, and Shahzad TANWEER, aged 22, who died in the explosion at Aldgate. We believe that they were responsible for carrying out these respective attacks.

Formal identification for all of these people is a matter for the Coroner.

later in the day

The confirmed number of dead is 55. Sadly we anticipate this may rise.

7 from the Liverpool St/Aldgate incident;
7 from the Edgware Rd incident;
27 from the Kings Cross/Russell Sq incident (inc man who died in hosp on 15.7.05);
14 from the bus (inc. man who died at hospital 14.7.05).

So at least one fatality was discovered either at the scene or at the Resilience Mortuary that was sufficiently beyond recognition (i.e. multiple body parts like the alleged bombers) after the the confirmed fatalities of the four accused, which leaves Anna Brandt, Atique Sharifi and possibly (but unlikely) Benedetta Ciaccia as that last confirmed fatality.

Ciaccia, Benedetta
46 Aldgate

Sharifi, Atique
2005.07.17 (date of number being listed)
2005.07.20 (date of naming)
50 Kings Cross-Russell Square

Brandt, Anna
51 Kings Cross-Russell Square

Monday, July 18, 2005

Victim [46] is a woman (NOT FOR PUBLICATION: We await confirmation from the family before releasing details).

Wednesday, July 20 2005

[50] Mr Atique Sharifi, an Afghani national (from Russell Sq. scene)

Ania Brandt was listed in news reports at least as early as the 9th. Benedetta Ciaccia was listed on the 9th as well but Atique Sharifi's name first appeared on the 21st.

amirrortotheenemy - August 7, 2010 12:32 PM (GMT)
Following on from a post by numeral in the David Kelly thread

Pathologist's errors brought agony for serviceman's family

Published Date: 03 August 2010
By Martin Slack

ERRORS by a pathologist who examined the body of a Yorkshire serviceman killed in Afghanistan led to an agonising delay which was slammed as "utterly wrong" by a coroner yesterday.

Donald Coutts-Wood said he would be reporting his concerns after serious problems emerged over documents related to the death of Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge.

SAC Bridge was killed on August 30, 2007, when the Land Rover he was travelling in hit an improvised explosive device while on patrol around Kandahar Airfield.

His body was repatriated to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire and taken to Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

At an inquest in Sheffield yesterday, Mr Coutts-Wood said this was carried out by a Home Office registered pathologist, Dr Nicholas Hunt.

His report was included in evidence to be heard at an inquest last December but errors were found by SAC Bridge's mother Nicolette Williams, which cast doubt on the identity of the body.

Because Dr Hunt was ill and could not attend, Mr Coutts-Wood was forced to stop the inquest and ask for new reports to verify the body was SAC Bridge.

Eventually an independent report was commissioned, which uncovered a catalogue of discrepancies between notes from the original post-mortem examination and subsequent reports.

Mistakes included dates on some of Dr Hunt's reports, which appeared to have been written on August 25, 2007 – five days before SAC Bridge was killed in action with C flight, 51 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment.

Heights, weight, hair colour, eye colour and the presence of tattoos on the body were not consistent, with one report stating a weight of 98kg and another 68kg.

The inquest was told the investigation process took more than six
months, leaving SAC Bridge's mother, from the Shiregreen area of Sheffield, and the rest of her family in limbo.

Returning an official verdict that SAC Bridge was unlawfully killed while on active service, the coroner thanked Mrs Williams for her patience and added: "This delay was utterly wrong and I shall be making appropriate reports."

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Last Updated: 02 August 2010 10:09 PM
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Location: Yorkshire


some more news links on Dr Nicholas Hunt

Husband of first-named victim tells of family's devastation
Evening Standard; London (UK), Jul 11, 2005 | by ED HARRIS

THE husband of the first person confirmed dead in the London bombings today said he had been left "distraught" by her death.

Susan Levy, 53, a mother of two sons, Daniel, 25, and James, 23, from Cuffley in Hertfordshire, had not been seen since taking the Piccadilly line to work last Thursday.

Her husband Harry, driver of a black cab, spoke as an inquest into his wife's death was opened and adjourned at St Pancras Coroner's Court this morning.

In a statement, he said: "Susan was a devoted and much-loved wife and mother of two sons. We are all devastated by our loss.

She was a valued and respected member of her extended Jewish family and will be deeply mourned and sadly missed by us and her many friends.

"On the morning of Thursday 7 July, Susan and her son Jamie left for work in central London. They parted at Finsbury Park and she continued her journey by travelling on the train that was victim of one of the appalling terrorist attacks that claimed so many lives.

"We are all distraught at her needless loss and our thoughts and our prayers are also with the many other families who have been affected by this horrendous tragedy."

At the sombre opening of this morning's inquest, the coroner, Dr Andrew Reid, was told that Mrs Levy was taken to hospital suffering from massive injuries after the terror attack. She died later that day from "injuries caused from an explosion".

The coroner's officer, Sharon Duff, told the court: "Mrs Levy was one of the mass fatalities.

"She was initially classified as an unidentified victim of one of the incidents and was taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where she died as a result of her injuries.

"She was subsequently identified through the process being led by the Metropolitan Police Service as part of their investigation into the mass fatalities on that day.

"A cause of death has been given by the pathologist, Dr Nicholas Hunt, as injuries caused by an explosion."
Dr Reid concluded the twominute hearing by asking Mrs Duff: "Would you also please pass on my sincere sympathy and condolences to members of Mrs Levy's family."

The coroner issued interim death certificates and adjourned the inquest to a later date pending further investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

No members of Mrs Levy's family were at the hearing.

She was the first victim to be named by a specially-convened Identification Commission, which is led by a coroner, pathologist, senior police officer and orthodontist.

Supported by hundreds of police officers and staff, it is using a variety of techniques to identify the victims, ranging from dental records and fingerprints to DNA and medical histories.

A makeshift mortuary has been set up at the headquarters of the Honourable Artillery Company, in City Road, where the bodies of the 49 people that have so far been recovered from the wreckage left by the atrocities have been laid.

However, police believe that the the number of dead may eventually rise to about 60.

Further inquests are expected to be opened tomorrow as formal identifications are completed.
©2005. Associated Newspapers Ltd.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.


Fury over soldiers' corpses slide show

Published Date: 03 August 2005
Julie Hemmings

Families of British servicemen murdered in Iraq have demanded action against a pathologist who showed pictures of the men's mutilated bodies in a slide show for travel agents.

Dr Nicholas Hunt used photographs of three Royal Military Policemen's butchered corpses during a seminar on how to set up temporary mortuaries in disaster zones, the dead men's grieving parents said.

The three bodies he allegedly displayed are understood to be those of Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, from Bala, Wales; Cpl Simon Miller, 21, from Washington, Tyne and Wear; and Sgt Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey.

The other men killed by an Iraqi mob in the town of Majar al Kabir in June 2003 were L/Cpl Ben Hyde, 23, from Northallerton; Cpl Russell Aston, 30, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire; and Cpl Paul Graham Long, 24, from Colchester, Essex.

Dr Hunt, who works in Oxfordshire, performed post mortem examinations on the three men after they were flown back to RAF Brize Norton.

The father of Cpl Miller, John Miller, said he was unwilling to accept an apology from Dr Hunt and was consulting his lawyer.

He added: "I don't want to speak to him (Dr Hunt). I want action to be taken. I don't see why he should get away with this."

Mr Miller said he found out about the slide show last week, after asking the
Ministry of Defence (MoD) to send him copies of every Army-related document featuring his son's name.

He said the material he received included three e-mails and a letter circulated between the MoD and the Oxfordshire coroner and it emerged in the documents that Dr Hunt had displayed pictures of three Red Caps on whom he had performed post mortems.

Mr Miller, 54, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, said: "Dr Hunt showed these pictures without mentioning it to the families.

"We would never have given permission anyway."

He said the documents suggest the seminar took place over two days in February 2004 in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and was attended by travel agents, council officials and public service workers.

In the slides displayed, the three men's bodies were naked save for strips obscuring their genitals and faces.

"What makes it worse is that we have never seen our son in that state – we were not allowed," Mr Miller said.

"Then, before an inquest had even been held, all and sundry were able to have a look. It has caused us real distress."

L/Cpl Keys's mother Sally, 52, said from her home in North Wales: "I just object to my son being used as an exhibit without my permission. Even if he is dead, he is still our son."

John Hyde, father of Ben Hyde, said his son would not have been bothered but it was upsetting that permission was not sought from the families.

"It's the total disregard for anyone's feelings," said Mr Hyde.

"The wider aspect is how may other people have they done it with lads who have been wounded or mutilated."

Dr Hunt, who works at the John Radcliffe Hospital mortuary in Oxford, was unavailable for comment yesterday but is reported to have said he deeply regrets causing the families any offence and is offering them a full apology.

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Last Updated:
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Location: Yorkshire


Pictures of mutilated servicemen shown to travel agents
Western Mail (Cardiff); Aug 3, 2005; p. 14

Full Text:
(Copyright 2005 Western Mail and Echo Ltd.)

Families of British servicemen murdered in Iraq yesterday demanded action against a pathologist who showed pictures of the men's mutilated bodies in a slide show for travel agents. Dr Nicholas Hunt used photographs of three Royal Military Policemen's butchered corpses during a seminar on how to set up temporary mortuaries in disaster zones, the dead men's grieving parents said.

The three bodies he allegedly displayed are understood to be Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, from Bala in North Wales, Corporal Simon Miller, 21, and Sergeant Simon Hamilton- Jewell, 41.

Prior to the conference, Dr Hunt, who works in Oxfordshire, had performed post mortem examinations on the three men after they were flown back to RAF Brize Norton.

The trio were among six Red Caps slaughtered by Iraqi locals in the town of Majar al Kabir in June 2003.

Lance Corporal Keys's mother Sally, 52, said from her home in North Wales, 'I just object to my son being used as an exhibit without my permission.'

She added, 'Even if he is dead, he is still our son.'

John Miller, father of Corporal Miller, yesterday said he was unwilling to accept an apology from Dr Hunt and is consulting his lawyer.

He added, 'I don't want to speak to him (Dr Hunt). I want action to be taken. I don't see why he should get away with this.'

Mr Miller said he found out about the slide show last week.

This was after asking the MoD to send him copies of every Army- related document featuring his son's name.

He said that among the material he received were three emails and a letter circulated between the MoD and the Oxfordshire coroner.

It emerged in the documents that Dr Hunt had displayed pictures of three Red Caps on whom he had performed post mortem examinations, he said.

Mr Miller, 54, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, said, 'Dr Hunt showed these pictures without mentioning it to the families. We would never have given permission anyway.'

He said the documents suggest the seminar took place over two days in February 2004 in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Attended by travel agents, council officials and public service workers, it was about setting up temporary mortuaries in the event of a disaster, Mr Miller said.

Recalling events of June 2003, he said his son had been 'slaughtered,' shot 17 times and 'given a kicking for good measure'.

In the slides displayed, the three fallen Red Caps' bodies were naked save for strips obscuring their genitals and faces.

'What makes it worse is that we have never seen our son in that state - we were not allowed,' Mr Miller said.

'Then, before an inquest had even been held, all and sundry were able to have a look. It has caused us real distress.'

Dr Hunt said, 'I deeply regret causing the families any offence and I will give them a full apology.'

A lab assistant at the John Radcliffe Hospital mortuary, where Dr Hunt works, said, 'Dr Hunt's in the middle of a post mortem examination right now. Then he's got a meeting. He's a very busy man.'

Relatives flee details of Red Caps killing
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 16, 2006

The devastating details of how a young Red Cap was beaten with a rifle butt, punched in the face then shot in the head and chest after his unit was set on by an Iraqi mob were heard by an inquest yesterday.

Corporal Simon Miller was one of six Royal Military Policemen to die at the hands of a furious mob at a police station in the southern Iraqi city of Al Majar Al Kabir in Maysan Province on June 24, 2003. Next to him, Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, from Bala, Gwynedd, is thought to have clutched his knees to his chest as he was executed by a shot to the head at close range, the inquest heard.

Yesterday, as pathologists at the Oxfordshire inquest into the deaths worked their way through a relentless report of gun shot wounds inflicted on the two and their colleagues Sergeant Simon Hamilton- Jewell and Corporal Russell Aston, relatives of the men ran from the court in tears.

The inquest heard yesterday how Cpl Aston, 30, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, was shot 13 times with a rifle using 7.62 millimetre ammunition - the same size bullet used in a Kalashnikov assault rifle - not 5.56 millimetre rounds used in the British Army's SA80 weapon.

Forensic pathologist Dr Nathaniel Carey said apart from a few grazes possibly sustained as his body fell, no other assault type injuries were found on Cpl Aston's body. He said it was impossible to say in what order the shots had been fired but said they could have come all in one hail of bullets from an automatic assault rifle.

He specifically apologised to Cpl Aston's father Mike and the other families for reporting the injuries in 'such a dead-pan manner'. 'It must be absolutely awful for you and I can only apologise that you have had to hear this,' he said.

Forensic scientist Peter Brookes said 41-year-old Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell had been struck by at least 14 bullets, five of which remained in the body and came from a Kalashnikov-type machine gun. He said the bullets had entered the body from left to right in an upward direction. 'This suggests that the deceased may have been lying on his left side during much of the shooting,' he said. The body of L/Cpl Keys had 18 gunshot wounds, most significantly to his temple and his shins, the inquest heard.

Pathologist Dr Hunt said the latter wounds were likely to have been caused as L/Cpl Keys clutched his knees against his stomach or knelt on the ground. Of other injuries, such as bruising and abrasions over much of his body, he said, 'In my experience of dealing with the military deaths there were more than you would expect in a normal combat-type death.'

The coroner asked, 'Do you consider them an indication of some kind of assault?' Dr Hunt, 'They could have been, yes.'

Cpl Miller, 21 from Washington, Tyne and Wear, the inquest heard, had a black eye from being punched, bruises to his chest where he is thought to have been hit with a rifle butt, and grazes on his back suggesting he had been dragged. He also suffered a single, fatal gunshot wound to his face and two or three wounds in his chest where he had been shot at close range, according to Dr Hunt.

After the inquest, Mr Aston said hearing the details of the injuries was 'not something anyone should have to go through'. He added, 'I'm relieved there is no sign of restraining, mistreatment or torture (on Cpl Aston) but unfortunately some of the other families were not so lucky. For my son it went pretty quickly.'

The inquest was adjourned for the day and is expected to resume today with pathology evidence into the deaths of the remaining two Red Caps, Lance Corporal Benjamin John McGowan Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire and Corporal Paul Graham Long, 24, from Colchester, Essex.:

Families' questions on bodies 'slide show' blocked:

The families of three Red Caps killed by an Iraqi mob were yesterday blocked from questioning a Home Office pathologist who was said to have shown pictures of the men's mutilated bodies in a slide show for travel agents.

The families of the dead servicemen accuse Dr Nicholas Hunt of using photographs of three of the six Royal Military Policemen's butchered corpses during a seminar on how to set up temporary mortuaries in disaster zones.

At the inquest into the deaths of the six servicemen in Oxford yesterday, coroner Nicholas Gardiner refused to allow the families' solicitor, John MacKenzie, to question Dr Hunt over his use of the pictures.

The brother of one of the dead servicemen later pursued Dr Hunt into the street to demand an apology on behalf of the grieving relatives. 'When do we get an apology? Why have you not approached the families?' asked Tony Hamilton-Jewell, brother of Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell.

Dr Hunt replied, 'It is regrettable but that is the advice I have been given and I do not want to go against that, as much as I would like to.'

Earlier, the coroner blocked questions to Dr Hunt over his use of the pictures. The three bodies Dr Hunt allegedly displayed were understood to be those of Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, Corporal Simon Miller, 21, and Sgt Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41.

Reg Keys, the father of Thomas Keys, said yesterday he was told by the Ministry of Defence that his son's body was 'definitely not viewable'. He added,'Yet the next thing you know pictures of his body are being put up on a slide show. 'It is a disgrace. We were not even asked, but we would not have given our permission anyway.'

The General Medical Council confirmed later that it was 'looking into' the families' claims regarding Dr Hunt's use of the pictures of the murdered Red Caps. A spokeswoman said, 'All complaints could possibly result in a hearing before our fitness to practise panel.'

COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning


Victims of a deadly 100ft fireball How Scots were first to die in a suicide attack


15 Dec 2005

SOLDIERS described yesterday how three Scots colleagues became the first British troops to be killed in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq.

Sergeant Stuart Gray, 31, Private Paul Lowe, 19, and Private Scott McArdle, 22, all from the Black Watch and from Fife, died in a blast at a checkpoint during their regiment's deployment to Camp Dogwood, south west of Baghdad. They were blown 30 yards into a ditch by flames that shot 100ft in the air, an inquest was told. An expert said they had been killed by the "blast wave".

The soldiers were supporting US troops who were attacking the insurgent stronghold of Falluja. A local interpreter assisting the troops was also killed by the explosion.

The deaths happened on November 4 last year on a road about 16 miles from their base, east of the Euphrates river, the inquest in Oxford was told.

The soldiers had been due to meet an American unit, but when they were delayed it was decided to set up a vehicle checkpoint to secure the area.

The dead men had been manning the checkpoint on the ground between two Warrior armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

The controversial deployment of BlackWatch troops to Camp Dogwood, close to Baghdad and away from British-controlled southern Iraq, was ordered to free up US troops for a major assault on Falluja.

Nicholas Gardiner, the Oxfordshire coroner, recorded verdicts of unlawful killing on the three soldiers.

Recalling events at the hearing, Private AndrewMcMenemy said he witnessed "flames 100ft in the air"when the car bomber struck.

He said he saw a saloon car being driven by a local man approaching the checkpoint. Moments after it was flagged down, the vehicle exploded into what he described was a fireball which lifted him into the air.

Private McMenemy said that as he was treated for injuries to his arms and legs, the checkpoint came under mortar attack.

Another survivor, Private Damien Gonsales, said: "I remember seeing a red Opal Omega carwhich appeared to be travelling at a normal speed and it slowed down as it approached. All of a sudden it exploded in front of me."

He said he was between 10 and 20 yards away from the blast, which caused him extensive injuries.

The soldiers' commanding officer, Lieutenant Alexander Ramsey, said he had just stepped into the turret of an APC when he heard and felt what was "clearly a big explosion". He said: "Initially the only casualty I remember seeing was the locally employed civilian (interpreter) about 10 metres in front."

The other three victims had been thrown into a ditch 30 yards away. Mr Ramsey said a crater left by the blast was six to eight feet wide and two feet deep.

Staff Sergeant Michael Batten, from the Army's Special Investigation Branch, said his team could not get near the blast site because it was too dangerous. He said while the three BlackWatch soldiers had been the first UK soldiers to be killed in this way in Iraq, from then on suicide bombers were constantly circling the troops.

Nicholas Hunt, a pathologist, said the soldiers were killed by the force of the blast.

He said the trio's body armour, protecting the heart area, would have stopped shrapnel but would have been of little use against the blast wave as they were so close to it.

Craig Lowe, 18, also a Black Watch soldier, had said his brother Paul had not believed in the "money and oil"war that claimed his life, and called for troops to be withdrawn.

McArdle's fiancee, Sarah McLaren, gave birth to a baby daughter three months after his death. His mother, Sandra McArdle, earlier this year condemned the BBC's decision to show a film of the attack on her son in a documentary, The New al Qaeda.

Family members attending yesterday's inquest were too distressed to comment afterwards.

As the Oxford inquest was sitting, it emerged that Iraqi border guards had discovered another cache of explosives aimed at killing British soldiers in the area.

The weapons were found around 12 miles from the Iranian frontier, close to the border between Basra and Maysan provinces in British-controlled southern Iraq.


Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK

Muslim soldier's death 'unlawful'

The inquest heard special clothing would not have saved L/Cpl Hashmi
A verdict of unlawful killing has been recorded on the first British Muslim soldier to be killed during the conflict in Afghanistan.

L/Cpl Jabron Hashmi, 24, of Bordesley Green, Birmingham, died during a rocket attack on a building on 1 July 2006, an inquest at Oxford Coroners Court heard.

The same verdict was also recorded on his colleague, Cpl Peter Thorpe, 27, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

Coroner Andrew Walker said the attack was "nothing short of murder".


Forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt said L/Cpl Hashmi died from a shrapnel wound to the neck. Cpl Thorpe died from a projectile wound to the chest.

Pakistani born L/Cpl Hashmi had been in the army since 2004 and was posted to the Royal Signals in January 2006.


Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 16:32 GMT

Confusion over bodyguard's death

An inquest into the death of a British bodyguard working in Iraq has heard differing versions as to how he died.

Former Royal Marines Commando Paul Chadwick, 23, died following the incident in Taza, near Kirkuk, in 2004.

One colleague said Mr Chadwick, from Nailsworth, Gloucs., accidentally shot himself in the neck while another said he put the gun to his own head.

A US doctor who examined his body said he believed he had been killed by a blow to the head with a blunt object.

Mr Chadwick had been working as a close protection officer for London-based security firm Armour Group.

The inquest in Oxford heard how he had been drinking whisky with two colleagues - which was forbidden by their firm because it was deemed dangerous to handle firearms under the influence - in one of their rooms when the incident happened.

James Booker said the Mr Chadwick had been trying to clear his Glock 9mm pistol. He said he had only partially taken the gun magazine off, meaning a round could have been taken out and loaded without his knowledge.

It needs to be fully removed in order for the gun to be cleaned safely.

He said: "I noticed that he hadn't taken the magazine off, at which point I said something to him, not to muck around. I turned away and then heard a gunshot."

Julian McClusky said he believed it was a deliberate act, that he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

An inquiry was launched after a US doctor said Mr Chadwick had suffered a blow to the back of the head.

Lt Col Donald Reed Jnr, of the US Army Forward Surgical Team, had raised suspicions about the Armour Group staff who brought him to hospital, saying he thought they were "disinterested".

'Callous disregard'

Mr Booker and Mr McCluskey were not among them.

He said: "Paul's colleagues didn't show the normal extreme grief, but appeared quite disinterested."

He said he found no gun residue around the injury, no bullet exit wound and no bullet in his head - this was later found in the ceiling of the room where the incident happened.

Home Office pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt discounted this, saying a gunshot caused the fatal injury, however he said it was impossible to say whether it was self-inflicted

Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Selena Lynch said if Lt Col Reed was based in the UK, she would call him as a witness to explain his evidence.

'Very emotional'

The hearing was read a statement by an American witness, Warren Franzen, of engineering firm Betchel Corporation, who said he was awoken by a gunshot then a commotion in which he heard someone shout: "I'm gonna kill you, you're dead, you're going to get a bullet."

Several witnesses said they saw Mr McCluskey kick Mr Chadwick as he lay bleeding on the floor.

Mr Booker confirmed he had seen this, but added: "It was just huge frustration. He wasn't responding to anyone. It was very, very emotional. This was his friend."

Mr McCluskey denied he had been "angry or upset" as colleagues fought to save Mr Chadwick, saying: "I was slightly in shock" and that Mr Franzen's account was "absolutely ridiculous".

The inquest continues.


7 June 2010 Last updated at 11:44

Man collapses and dies in street in Market Drayton

A man has collapsed and died following a incident in the street in Shropshire.

West Mercia Police were called to Sambrook Crescent, Market Drayton, just after 1730 BST following reports of a disturbance.

They arrested a man in his thirties who collapsed moments later and was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

His identity is not yet known and police are investigating why he was there as he is not thought to be local.

Det Chief Insp Steve Tonks said details of the incident were still being investigated.
'Not recognised'

"I am anxious to establish how and why he came to be in Sambrook Crescent," he said.

"He appears to be a stranger to the area and was not recognised by local residents who saw him."

Mr Tonks said a post mortem examination was carried out on Sunday by Home Office pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt.

A cause of death has yet to be given pending the results of medical tests.

A full report is being prepared for Mid and North Shropshire coroner John Ellery.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission as a matter of routine.


Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 20:41 GMT

Suicide prisoner was given razors

A man who shot dead his estranged wife and sister-in-law killed himself with razor blades given to him by prison staff, an inquest has heard.

Stuart Horgan, 39, a bricklayer, from Plaistow, London, was on remand at HMP Woodhill, Buckinghamshire.

He was in the jail's segregation unit after being taken off suicide watch.

He was arrested after Vicky Horgan, 27, and her sister Emma Walton, 25, were shot dead at a barbecue in Highmoor Cross, Oxfordshire, on 6 June 2004.

On 20 June, Father's Day, Horgan was found dead in his blood-spattered cell by the jail's Anglican chaplain, Melvyn Gardner.

Gunned down

"As I opened the hatch (in the cell door), I was immediately aware of brown stuff all over the place, which I thought was probably blood," he told the inquest jury.

Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt gave the cause of death as hanging and incised wounds to the neck.

Horgan obtained the razor on the morning of his death from jail staff, the inquest heard.

He had managed to convince staff he was not a suicide risk.

The jury at the civic offices in Milton Keynes was told how Horgan had gunned down the two women at a family barbecue.

The mother of the victims, Jacqueline Bailey, was also seriously injured in the attack, which took place in front of Ms Horgan's two daughters, aged four and seven - the youngest of whom is Horgan's.


He was arrested the day after the shooting near a pub in Peterborough and was remanded into custody at HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire, where he was put on 24-hour suicide watch.

He was taken off three days later when he was transferred to HMP Woodhill and staff reassessed him and considered him "level-headed".

The day before he killed himself, he took advice from a fellow prisoner after speaking of the desire to end his life.

He also told the prisoner that he wanted his wife dead because "they did not get on too well" and that his marital problems stemmed from his alcoholism.

The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday.


Suicide of gay vicar's killer
By Standard Reporter Last updated at 00:00am on 23.04.02

A gay vicar found naked in his sitting room was stabbed to death nine times with a kitchen knife by a young man he took to his home who later killed himself, an inquest heard today.

Father David Paget, 46, of St Andrews Church Vicarage, West Kensington, was found dead on 30 May last year. Forensic science evidence linked the attack with a 29-year-old man who died from multiple injuries when he fell 100 feet to his death from the 10th floor of a tower block in Bow.

An unlawful killing verdict was recorded at West London Coroner's Court on Father Paget, before a second inquest on David Watkins, 29, of Bethnal Green, was due to go ahead.

Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt said that there was a major stab wound to the chest that was "close to full force" and five other chest wounds, two to the bowel and one to the hip area.

He died as a result of stab wounds "principally" in the chest, mostly inflicted with moderate force although the first was "close to full force", said Deputy Coroner Elizabeth Pygott. The cause of death was stab wounds to the chest and there were no defensive injuries.

Detective Inspector Geoffrey Baker said on 30 May last year between 10.30am and 11am the naked body was found by the parish treasurer, Janet Hodge. "Inquiries were made at the nearby Queens tennis club and a security officer recalled that the previous night he spotted a suspicious male walking around the perimeter. He appeared to have been drinking, and wanted directions to the Underground and wanted to go to Bethnal Green. He was directed to Barons Court."

Closed circuit television at the club and at Barons Court was examined and outside the garden of the vicarage was a spot of blood. There was also a kitchen knife forced into the ground beside the tennis courts.

The security guard put together an e-fit and some items from the address, cigarette butts, a bottle of wine and beer cans were sent for examination.

After circulation of the e-fit, Mr Baker was contacted by Pc Mark Newbury who believed the e-fit bore a similarity to "a suicide victim he dealt with on 1 June". DNA tests on four out of eight butts were a match for David Watkins with three matching Father Paget. Fingerprints from the bottle were matched to Watkins and the blood spot. Blood on the knife was a match for Father Paget. CCTV tapes from West Kensington Tube station on 29 May showed the two leaving the station.

Recording the verdict Miss Pygott said even if the assailant was acting under provocation or diminished responsibility, it was an unlawful killing - a "deliberate assault intended to cause death or at least serious injury".

Reader views (1)

There has still been no independent enquiry into the death of David Watkins as the mental health trust responsible for David's care claim that as he had not been found guilty in a criminal court of killing Father Paget they are not obligated to have one.

- Judith Feld, West Wickham, 22/01/2008 11:09


Christopher Price (broadcaster)



Towards the end of April 2002 he was off work for a week with an acute ear infection. On 22 April 2002 he failed to turn up for work and his close friends Robert Nisbet and Stephanie West went to his flat in Wells Street, off Oxford Street, in central London and found Price dead. Forensic pathologist Dr. Nicholas Hunt told the coroner's court on 19 June 2002 that Price had died of heart failure caused by meningoencephalitis - an 'extremely rare' condition that had probably spread from his ear infection. Police found a small quantity of cocaine and prescription weight-loss drugs in Price's flat but they were not connected to his death.[3]


Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Presenter killed by rare infection


Coroner Paul Knapman described police photos showing a flat dotted with soft drink cans and takeaway boxes.

Mr Wilson dismissed suggestions that Price was feeling depressed or suicidal and said he had made good new friends and was looking forward to new projects at work.

He told the court: "Christopher was a very reflective man. He thought very deeply about all sorts of things.

"In the last months he was probably happier than he had been for many years."

Dr Nicholas Hunt, who conducted the post-mortem on Price, said tests on his brain revealed the presence of meningoencephalitis.

Speaking after the inquest he said it was extremely rare and he had only seen it two or three times before in more than 3,000 post-mortems.

Dr Hunt said the autopsy had also revealed that arteries in Price's heart had hardened to a degree unusual in a 34-year-old.

'Meticulous examination'

He said there were a number of minor grazes on Price's body consistent with having stumbled around the flat.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, the coroner said: "Only an autopsy including meticulous examination of the brain has given us the truth of the matter.

"It's particularly unfortunate that a person of his age should die of such a condition."


#Dr Nicholas Hunt

# The Home Office pathologist was asked by Thames Valley Police to go to Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire, the secluded beauty spot where Dr Kelly's body was found on 18 July.

# Dr Hunt told the inquiry he was escorted to Dr Kelly's body, adding: "He was lying on his back, fully clothed, with his boots on. His left arm was towards his side, his right arm was over his chest area."

# A pruning knife was found next to Dr Kelly, along with bloodstains on his body and in the undergrowth and soil on his left-hand side.

# Dr Hunt said a series of incised wounds and cuts were found on the left arm and wrist

# An artery had been severed and there were a series of "hesitation marks", or cuts made before deeper incisions.

# There were three minor grazes to the side of the scientist's head, consistent with being in contact with undergrowth, and minor skin bruises to his knees and chest, which could have happened while stumbling or walking through the woods.

# Dr Hunt said there were no indications of defensive injuries which would have happened if someone had been trying to "parry blows from a weapon or trying to grab a weapon".

# "At the time of his death, Dr Kelly had significant amount of narrowing of the arteries to the heart, his coronary artery," said Dr Hunt. "That was the only positive evidence of natural disease but I could not find evidence that he had had a heart attack as a consequence of that."

# Dr Hunt estimated the time of the weapons' expert's death to have been between 1615 on 17 July and 0115 the following day.

# Wounds on his body were consistent with someone wishing to cause themselves harm, said Dr Hunt. The fact that Dr Kelly was found in a quiet beauty spot suggested that he may have intentionally tried to harm himself.

# Dr Hunt said there were no signs that Dr Kelly had been "overpowered" by any volatile chemical like chloroform or had been subjected to "any sustained, violent assault prior to his death".

# Blood loss was the cause of death with a drug overdose listed as a possible contributing factor, Dr Hunt's report said.


And in his report for the coroner, Home Office pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt concluded either of two of the cuts to Dr Kelly's wrist, which had been made by a blade, would have proved fatal.

Dr Hunt said the 59-year-old had probably been unaware he was suffering from "furred arteries".

He said another contributory factor may have been a drugs overdose.


Earlier, Dr Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist who examined the body as it was slumped against a tree in an Oxfordshire woodland, said there were at least five cuts to Dr Kelly's left wrist.

The wrist wounds were typical of self-inflicted injury, said Dr Hunt.

He said bruises and minor grazes on Dr Kelly's body may have been caused by him "stumbling" to the scene.

But there were no signs of defensive injuries that would occur as a result of somebody trying to parry blows from a weapon, he said.

Neither was there evidence of the scientist being restrained, strangled or dragged to the woodland spot.

Dr Hunt said the major cause of the scientist's death were the wounds to his wrist and the overdose of prescription painkiller Coproxamol and the narrowing of arteries to his heart.


Electric pads found on Dr Kelly's chest at the time of his death had been applied by paramedics trying to revive him, the Oxfordshire coroner added.

An amended medical report by Home Office pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt concluded either of two of the cuts to his wrist, which had been made by a blade, would have proved fatal.

After the inquest Dr Hunt said the 59-year-old had probably been unaware he was suffering from "furred arteries".

The condition "affected many men his age", Dr Hunt added.


Detectives examined the letter and some 500 other documents, including a detailed post-mortem report, concluding the scientist was the victim of a ‘homicide’, allegedly written by Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist who gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry about the cause of Dr Kelly’s death.

But all the documents were fakes. They are in fact the work of Susan Tompkins Bateman, 40, who lives in a three-bedroom former council house in the Leicestershire village of Fleckney which she shares with her teenage daughter, her husband Andy, who is the Customer Service Champion of the Year at the local Co-op shop, and her parents, parish councillors Kathleen and Keith Tompkins, a retired lorry driver.


Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Tragic experiment led to girl's death

A curiosity about suicides by hanging led to the death of a 10-year-old girl, an inquest has heard.

Oxford Coroner's Court heard that shortly before her death, Natasha Holmes-Smith had read articles about people taking their lives by hangings in newspapers.

She was found suspended from her bunk bed by the cord of her dressing gown by her nine-year-old sister, Tilly at her home in Leach Road, Bicester, on 17 November last year.

Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a verdict of misadventure at Thursday's hearing.

Alarm raised

Tilly's brother, Tyrone, 14, had been looking after Natasha and her little sister on the Saturday morning while their mother, Janice Clarke, 35, was working as a waitress.

The inquest heard that Natasha had gone off to her bedroom in a slight "huff" after he had confiscated a book she was reading which he felt was inappropriate.

The teenager was playing computer games in his bedroom with a friend Craig Smith, 17, when Tilly raised the alarm.

He told the hearing how they found Natasha hanging from the bedpost and got her down.

Tyrone tried to resuscitate her, following advice over the phone from paramedics after dialling 999, but she was later pronounced dead at hospital.

Mrs Clarke told the hearing that her daughter had been puzzled by an article in a newspaper a few months earlier about a boy who hanged himself after being bullied.

She said: "She couldn't understand how he died. She thought you had to be strangled.

"She wasn't depressed. She just asked questions about what she read in the paper.

Cardiac arrest

"The morning that she died she read the papers after I read them and there was a story about a doctor, aged 29, who had hung himself.

"She read the article and it might have reminded her about what she had asked about earlier."

Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt told the hearing that pressure to her neck had caused cardiac arrest.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Clarke said it was impossible to advise other parents how to avoid such a tragedy.

She said: "You just can't understand a child's mind. They are brought up to be curious and to learn and tragically it lead to her death."


amirrortotheenemy - October 17, 2010 05:28 PM (GMT)

Disaster victim identification has long been a role of the Directorate of Forensic Services. In December 2005, it faced its biggest challenge, the south Asian tsunami. MPS forensic staff were some of the first to attend and they set up processes for taking photographs, fingerprints and DNA from victims. These were taken on board by other international agencies and seen as the benchmark for effective identifi cation.

The methodology for this centred around the matching of post-mortem biometrics from victims with ante-mortem information recovered from various personal locations, such as the victim’s home, workplace or members of their family.

The DNA information was loaded onto a new software system that quickly matched
the information. This was the first time that this had been used in the UK and it establishd practices that became vital after the bombings of 7 July. This knowledge led to the quick identification of victims, which reduced the suffering of family and friends.

Source : Metropolitan Police Service - The Job; Issue 6; October 2006

amirrortotheenemy - October 17, 2010 05:37 PM (GMT)
Apart from providing a visible
24-hour patrol team on the river,
which involves up to 600 ‘taskings’
each week – these being anything
from passenger-ferry interceptions
to pier checks – the team offers
specialist marine support to the
Met. It also has its own Terrorism
and Crime (TAC) team, a marine
search and rescue capability, and
an Underwater and Confi ned Spaces
Search Team (UCSST).
In the immediate aftermath of
the bombings of 7 July 2005, the
unit provided assistance that no
other team in the Met was able to
provide, as offi cers from the UCSST and ‘line-access’ teams were
called in to help remove human
remains and other evidential
material from under the wreckage
of the scene.
The retrieval of inaccessible
forensic evidence was crucial to
ensure an effective investigation,
explains PC Martin Spirito from the
UCSST. “When the bombings took
place, rescuers needed to search
underneath the trains before
they were moved because they did
not want to disturb the evidence
still to be gathered from the scene.
So we were called in to remove the
body parts and other evidential
material from under the wreckage.
“Our team can be called out to
any confi ned space that needs
searching and where it might be
diffi cult to breathe. Nobody else in
the Met was qualifi ed to search the
space in the Underground because
it was so confi ned. At some points,
my chest and back were touching
the train and the tunnel, and at
other times I couldn’t turn my head.
Getting under the train was something our team could do
quickly, but every time we found
something we would have to
crawl back and hand it to the
exhibition offi cer before crawling
under again.”

amirrortotheenemy - October 21, 2010 01:14 PM (GMT)
Just metres away underground, engineers were battling to release the bodies of the dead on Piccadilly tube train. The carriage where the bomb had gone off was some 500 yards into the tunnel and the engineers were finding it difficult to gain access. 'It was like a scene from hell,' said one.

But the job could not be rushed. The forensic experts knew that every shard of glass, every splinter of metal or scrap of clothing was potentially crucial. Fibres no more than five to 10mm in length and a few microns - millionths of a metre - wide could hold the key to the perpetrators' identities.

Officials from the government's Forensic Science Services (FSS), whose headquarters are less than two miles from Tavistock Square, removed thousands of samples for analysis at its state-of-the-art laboratory in Birmingham.

The forensic investigation may take weeks to complete. Among the most sought-after items are the actual timers and detonators of the devices. Although terrorist bombs are constructed in different ways, the timers and detonators usually survive the explosion with the result that, normally, three-quarters of a bomb can be recovered from the scene.

Already initial images of the four bombings have been fed to experts at Qinetiq, the government's former research agency, which will begin creating computer simulations to show the precise location of where the bombs were planted and direction of the blast.

This week, focus will move towards locating the CCTV camera in the number 30 bus. Yesterday the Metropolitan police were refusing to confirm whether it had remained intact or even if it was recording images on Thursday morning. Sources later said that it seemed that the CCTV camera was not working. This week it is likely the bus will be transferred to a 'secure' Metropolitan Police site for detailed forensics work.

Investigators believe it will be vital clues from the bus that will give them the best clues in the hunt for the killers. They recall that it was a finger print on the SIM card of a mobile phone that led to the Madrid bombers.

Evidence from passengers will also be crucial. Trained police officers were very quick to ensure passengers leaving the tube trains gave statements about what they saw.


amirrortotheenemy - October 21, 2010 02:20 PM (GMT)
Painstaking search for terrorists' signature

By John Steele
Published: 12:01AM BST 09 Jul 2005


Methodical exploration of the four crime scenes is vital. Models of the carriages will be constructed and created on 3D computer programmes.


Huge forensic task to identify victims and attackers

Ian Sample and Rosie Cowan
The Guardian, Saturday 9 July 2005 00.07 BST

A huge forensic investigation was stepped up at the four bomb sites yesterday with the aim of identifying the bodies of the victims and those responsible for the blasts.

The Metropolitan police, which is coordinating the operation, dispatched scene of crime officers with scientific support staff to secure all of the sites.

"Forensic examination of the scenes is vital because it could save lives in the future," a senior Scotland Yard source said.

Officers are taking swabs from clothing and surfaces near the blasts in the hope that chemical analysis will reveal residues of the bombs used. The Met believes that each of the bombs contained no more than 10lbs (about 4.5kg) of explosive and may have been carried in rucksacks.

At each site the task is different. Plans are being drawn up to remove the entire remains of the bomb-damaged bus to a secure site where forensic experts will attempt to piece it together to help to identify where the bomb was placed.

At Russell Square in Bloomsbury, forensic teams face the gruesome and complex task of gathering evidence from tube carriages and victims trapped deep underground.

Bodies in the front carriage, where the bomb is believed to have detonated, must be removed before any detailed examination can begin. Because of the intense heat and difficulty of working in the tunnel, Scotland Yard is considering ways of extracting the front carriage intact for forensic investigation.

Clues to the bombers' identities may also be found on CCTV footage from the bus and tube stations and from cameras around the city, and inves tigators are gathering hundreds of hours of tape.

Graham Thomas, a forensic consultant with 20 years' experience, said that large quantities of the bombs should be recoverable from each scene. "The initial blast fragments the bomb, but you can expect to recover about three-quarters of it," he said.

At each of the sites there will be a fingertip search for components of the bombs. The types of materials used, the detonators and casings will all help to narrow down who was responsible. Bombers also tend to construct their weapons according to where they learned the technical skill, providing further clues as to their origin.

Teams will also face the task of identifying the victims. According to Sue Black, a forensics expert at Dundee University, in most cases, identifying the bodies should be possible using personal effects.

But human remains will have to be pieced together to help return victims to families and also confirm the nature of the explosion and whether any of those recovered were carrying the bombs.

"You need to build up a body map of each person, so you can eliminate people as suspects and return bodies to families," said Prof Black. "But it's vital for other reasons. If you find that victims have their feet missing, it could indicate a device in a bag left on the floor."

Experts believe the forensic analysis will go on for some weeks.

"Whenever you miss something, you can't go back to it, so it's very important that the work at the outset is done painstakingly," said Prof Black. "People want answers now, but it takes time to make sure you get it right. It's too important to risk getting it wrong."


Hunt for bus bomber goes molecular
By Roger Highfield in London
July 11, 2005

The body of the person believed to have carried the No. 30 bus bomb is being reassembled, piece by piece, in a mortuary in an effort that could reveal where he or she was born and the identity of relatives.

The use of DNA analysis, isotope studies and other methods to identify the bomber and his fragmented victims were described on Friday by Professor Sue Black, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Dundee, who has taken part in efforts to identify remains in Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor, Sierra Leone and Iraq.

Some of the victims can be identified by relatives, by their dental records, fingerprints or belongings. But the bodies of people close to the blasts were fragmented.

The bomber's remains will be examined for the pattern of burning, explosives residues and bomb fragments. The human remains scattered around the sites of the bombings will be reassembled in the mortuary by a painstaking process of labelling and DNA testing.

Relatives of those who are missing are to provide DNA samples for comparison with the victims to make a positive identity.

In the case of the bomber, the DNA can be compared with that held in the national database to see if he or she had been convicted of a previous crime, or whether the DNA of relatives is present in the database.

The face of the bomber may have survived the blast. If not, a reconstruction of his skull can provide clues because it then becomes possible to build up a face manually using clay on a cast of a skull, or by a computer program using known measurements of the thickness of soft tissue at key areas on the face.

Another crucial clue will come from analysing the variants, or isotopes, of elements in the bones of the bomber, using isotope analysis, notably of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. These vary, depending on local diet and water, because bone constantly remodels itself.

In effect, we are what we eat. "We can see if a change in diet has occurred. We can look at where someone has been located for up to two years," Professor Black said. "We could tell if they have been in the UK."

Because there are isotope maps of the world, this method has proved invaluable. It was used, for example, to identify the origin of "Adam", the torso of a boy believed to have been the victim of a ritual killing, discovered in the Thames.

Professor Ken Pye, a forensic geologist at the University of London, used strontium isotopes to narrow Adam's place of origin to a large part of Nigeria.

Isotope analysis of the teeth will reveal where the bomber was raised. With bone and antibody analysis to show what diseases the bomber had been exposed to, the forensic study could reveal the origins of the bomber.

Telegraph, London



From The Sunday Times
June 14, 2009
Forensics has become too sexy and I blame CSI
Professor Sue Black fears hit TV series gives a distorted view of work vital in tracking down murderers and paedophiles
Gillian Bowditch
Black thinks TV shows such as CSI have had a negative effect

To the untrained eye, it’s unremarkable: the tiniest defect on a thumb nail. To Professor Sue Black, one of Britain’s leading forensic anthropologists, it is the piece of evidence that allowed her to identify a sex offender and helped convict Scotland’s largest known paedophile ring.

It is also confirmation that a science Black is pioneering may soon rank alongside finger-printing and DNA analysis as one of the key weapons in the fight against crime. The art of reading hands, for centuries the preserve of fortune tellers, may yet bring the most evasive of abusers to justice.

Black, a warm, bluff woman in her forties whose job has taken her from the mass graves of Kosovo to war-torn Iraq, is ambivalent about television series such as CSI and Silent Witness. They trivialise, sensationalise and generally misrepresent her profession. But the story that unfolds in her office at the University of Dundee is as gripping as any thriller.

The network of paedophiles had links stretching from Australia to Massachusetts. At its heart was a small group of Scottish men — husbands, church elders, charity workers, teachers and bank employees. They were well-educated, well-respected and good at covering their tracks.

Neil Strachan, a 41-year-old maintenance engineer and former secretary of the Celtic Boys Club in Edinburgh, was a ringleader of the paedophile network. He had committed his first offence at the age of 17 and been sentenced to three years in jail in 1997 for abusing children. Strachan, who is HIV-positive, was caught when he took a computer to be fixed. The repair technician found an abusive image of a child, one of 7,000 images later recovered by police.

The most infamous of these came to be known as “the Hogmanay image”, in which an unidentified man was shown engaging in graphic sexual abuse of a toddler. Identifying the man in the picture would be crucial to smashing the ring. There was, however, very little to go on.

“We were approached by Lothian and Borders police very late in the investigation,” says Black. “Our job was to compare images of the offender with images of the suspect. The defence had instructed the police to take some photographs of Strachan’s thigh. In those pictures, Strachan is holding a photographic scale, which, coincidentally, gave us two very good images of his thumbs. In the Hogmanay image, there was also an image of a man’s right thumb. You could say it was fortuitous.”

Strachan’s right thumbnail had an unusual morphology, a defect present from when he was in the womb. The identical defect was on the thumb in the Hogmanay image. Before Black could convince the jury, she had to demonstrate just how individual a hand is.

“We’re not at all symmetrical,” she says, laying her freckled arms on the table. “If you look at the pattern of veins on your right hand and compare it with the pattern of veins on your left hand, they are completely different. It’s the same for the blemishes on your skin and the creases on a knuckle. Within a hand, there is a tremendous amount of information.

“What we can’t tell yet is what the likelihood is of anybody else having the same pattern,” says Black. “This is very much pioneering science. We were careful to say to the court that we could not say definitively that it was him. But that is true in almost every case of identity. Every technique we use is based on probability, even DNA.”

Black’s methodical deconstruction of the images convinced the jury. Six members of the network were jailed for a total of 45 years in the high court last week. The two ringleaders, Strachan and James Rennie, will be sentenced next month. The technique has been used in another paedophile case. Dean Hardy, who had travelled to Thailand to abuse children, confessed when presented with Black’s findings.

“I don’t know that anybody else is doing this, which surprises the hell out of me,” says Black. “The great Renaissance painters all knew that your entire life is visible in your hands.”

Black and her team are now involved in a race against the clock to establish this new science before the offenders learn how to evade it. Central to her work is establishing the uniqueness of patterns in the hand, the level of variation and the probability of certain patterns recurring.

“We always have to stay one job ahead of the criminal, but the criminal fraternity is smart and they learn from us,” she says.

In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, in which Black was involved, she wrote to the then prime minister, Tony Blair, to say the UK was “an international embarrassment” when it came to disaster victim identification. As a result, she helped found the UK Disaster Victim Identification Response Capability. Every British police officer deployed at a mass fatality here or overseas is now trained in her unit. The course is being rolled out to Interpol. The 500 British officers who have already completed it have had their hands photographed in 3D to build a database on which to progress the research into hand identification.

The technique, which Black started to develop just five years ago, could have huge implications for investigations into child abuse, but there is still little knowledge among police forces about its existence.

“This is in its infancy,” says Black, as a full skeleton looks on. “We have to be very careful with it. A lot more basic research needs to be done. But I’d like to think it could be useful in a whole range of cases.”

Ironically, it is defence lawyers who are now approaching her for her expertise. “That can be very difficult,” she says. “Often it is the defence that picks up on new things faster than the Crown Prosecution Service.” So far, she has turned down two defence lawyers who wanted to engage her services for their clients.

“I’m just not prepared to go down that route at this stage,” she says. “I don’t want this to become a real courtroom battle, because what will suffer is the science. If you move too quickly with this, there are likely to be travesties of justice.”

When she started researching hands, she had no idea her work would become a weapon in the fight against paedophilia. Understandably, she has mixed feelings about this. “I am a mother of three girls,” she says. “Once those images are in your head, you can’t lose them. It’s not something I would advocate anybody doing early on in their career.”

Black, who became a grandmother this year, is no stranger to disturbing work. In 1999, she went to Kosovo to collect evidence for the United Nations war crimes tribunal. It was two years of intense and dirty work, recovering bodies.

“The initial scene was an outhouse in which 44 men had been murdered,” she recalls. “The bodies were badly decomposed and burnt. They were buried under asbestos tiles and had been mauled by dogs. The hardest bit was dealing with the families. Often they would be standing beside you while you were excavating the graves.

“You are very conscious that they are reliving those awful scenes. Their grief is palpable. When you work in a mortuary, it’s a clinical setting. It’s entirely different exhuming a body when you are sitting beside his mother and she is holding a photograph of him and telling you what a nice boy he was. But you have to get used to it. If you can’t maintain your objectivity, you are no use whatsoever.”

Does she cry much?

“Not very often,” she says. “You go home and you hug your children a little bit closer. You do get a little bit more protective.”

Black has worked in Iraq, Sierra Leone and in the regions hit by the tsunami, where her work was featured in a Horizon documentary. Her job in Iraq involved identifying the French cameraman Frédéric Nérac and the Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman, who were travelling with ITN reporter Terry Lloyd when they came under fire from Americans during the war.

The breakthrough came when a woman showed up with some charred bones in response to the offer of a reward from ITN. Black identified them as fragments from Osman’s lower limbs. The insurgency in the area means that, so far, Nérac’s body has not been recoverable. Her other mission in Iraq involved special forces and is covered by the Official Secrets Act.

An anatomist by training, Black was born and brought up in Inverness. She married Tom, who studied anatomy with her and now runs the Centre for International Forensic Assistance.

It was the work in Kosovo that convinced her of the need to set up a course in forensic anthropology. After her work for the war crimes tribunal was finished, Black and her colleagues returned in a humanitarian capacity to help identify other bodies. She took four students with her.

“We were so dispirited and disillusioned about their lack of knowledge,” she says. “It spurred me on to start the undergraduate course that we have here. I took the idea to Aberdeen, because that is my alma mater, but it didn’t go very far. I think I was too much of a threat. I’m a belligerent, middle-aged, red-headed woman. Then I took it to Dundee and they were wonderful. They have been phenomenally supportive.”

Black expects her students to undertake a four-year degree and a further four years of advanced study. Only then does she believe they are fully trained. The course is based on the study of anatomy, considered old-fashioned and irrelevant by many medical schools.

“I believe if you are going to put somebody away for the rest of their life or if, as in Iraq, somebody will be condemned to death through what you say, you should know what you are talking about,” she says. “A one-year masters does not make you fit to practise. I was very interested to read the reports in The Sunday Times about university degrees dumbing down, because we are bucking that trend. If they get a first-class degree from here, they really deserve it.”

She has, however, seen the effects of dumbing down in the students who apply for the 25 places on offer. “Sometimes they don’t know what a noun or an adverb is. If you are going to produce a report that stands up in court, it has to be well written. We have to teach them how to learn because our schools aren’t doing that.”

She blames sensational television series for fuelling unrealistic expectations of her profession. “Forensics has become sexy,” she says. “The television series are partly responsible. CSI, Bones and Silent Witness — all of these awful programmes raise awareness. At the moment, there are 60 undergraduate courses in the UK with the word ‘forensic’ in them. When it becomes ‘forensic investigation and modern dance’, you do wonder. It’s a way of universities pulling in students and making money and it’s immoral. The science suffers.”

The most worrying aspect for Black is the lack of any proper accreditation for professionals. The closure of the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners means the door is now open to cowboys to set themselves up as experts. “I think justice will suffer and I think we will suffer.”

Black is unequivocal about the importance of her work, including naming the dead. “I love my job and I love the fact that right at the core of it is a very ancient science, anatomy.

“It’s incredibly important to know what has happened to somebody. When you have a missing person, your life goes into a stutter. Look at the McCanns. They don’t know what has happened to their daughter and you can never really get beyond that. If we can do nothing else, we can help families move on. It’s about trying to give somebody back their name. That’s important for humanity and important for dignity.”


2nd edit: Tanweer and Khan's DNA were reportedly recovered from spines found at the crime scene.


Resolved Question

I would like to know, how long does it take a DNA analysis on a corps that's been burried for 20 years?
And also what soil conditions can deteriorate the DNA from corps.
Thank you

* 3 months ago

Report Abuse

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters
The answer depends heavily on the specifics of the situation. By this I mean how the body was treated prior to burial, the environment in which the body was buried, the type of DNA analysis that will be performed, the backlog at the lab performing the DNA analysis and the priority they place on the case.

Some chemical treatments (preservatives) can damage DNA and make it difficult to obtain a profile. Heat and moisture will degrade DNA and make it difficult to obtain a profile. Inhibitors in the soil can make it difficult to obtain a profile. Some laboratories are so backlogged that it may take months to get around to a particular sample/case. Standard nuclear DNA analysis (STR typing) is pretty quick to perform following extraction. Mitochondrial DNA analysis, typically performed when DNA is too degraded for STR typing, is a lengthier and much more labor intensive process.

Generally speaking, human remains buried in a region with cool, dry conditions will typically yield decent STR profiles. A set of human remains recovered from a hot, moist environment may have substantial DNA degradation and may require mtDNA analysis. For processing and analysis time ONLY (not counting backlog at a DNA lab) figure 1-3 days to generate an STR profile and 1-2 weeks (or longer) for an mtDNA profile.


From a October 2009 Saturday Live radio programme, at about 30 minutes, Sue Black says that the retrieval of a DNA sample from bone can take six months.

From Medscape Molecular Medicine
Conversations With the Experts: DNA Forensic Testing in New York City

Peter Jhon

Authors and Disclosures

Posted: 10/30/2001


Medscape recently spoke with Brian Ward, PhD, Vice President of Operations for Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc., in Salt Lake City, Utah, about the difficult task of identifying the victims of the World Trade Center disaster. Myriad Genetics is 1 of 3 companies performing DNA analysis of the victims. All 3 companies are working in conjunction with the New York City Medical Examiner's Office.

Q: What is Myriad Genetics' role in the DNA analysis of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks?

A: The New York State Police Forensic Laboratory is receiving cheek swabs from the relatives of the victims, as well as personal effects of the victims. At the site of the World Trade Center, the New York City Medical Examiner is receiving the victims' specimens. These 2 groups catalogue and run standard forensic tests on the specimens. Then the DNA from the samples is extracted and sent to Myriad. We analyze the samples and create profiles known as DNA fingerprints. This information is sent back to New York, where the kinship analysis takes place -- when the victim is matched with family members.

Q: What other companies are involved with this project?

A: Three biotechnology/biopharmaceutical companies are involved: Celera (Rockville, Maryland), who will perform mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis; Bode Technology (Springfield, Virginia), who will be assisting in the extraction of bone as well as quality assurance; and Myriad Genetics, who will perform short tandem repeat (STR) analysis.

STR analysis is very accurate, and the matches are made at 1 in a million, or at higher stringency. Mitochondrial DNA is a different type, and the matches are not as stringent. Our preference is to do STR samples.

Q: What is the difference between STR technology and mtDNA tests?

A: For STR analysis there are 14 recognized markers -- 13 markers plus the sex chromosome. The chance that you and I have the same markers is 1 in 250 trillion, so when reassociation of dismembered body parts is accomplished, it is with an extremely high level of confidence. When kinship analysis is performed to match the victim with the family, the 14 victim markers are matched against DNA of the mother and father. Our DNA is a mixture of the DNA from our mom and dad; by doing comparisons backwards, we can take a victim's STR profile and match it to the parents'. The accuracy of that is at least 1 in 3000, to well above 1 in a million to even 1 in a billion, so this is highly accurate.

Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from the mother, and the DNA itself is only about 80% informative. So it is generally used as a back-up, when STR profiles do not work. The advantage of mitochondrial DNA is that it can be extracted from bone, and can be amplified from very small amounts of samples.

In biological tissue, you have 2 copies of each STR marker, but you have thousands of mitochondrial cells. But unfortunately the mitochondria are very similar, and the information content is much less than that of a STR profile.

Q: Could you describe the process of analysis?

A: Let me give you an example. To do a breast cancer analysis, we have to study 37,000 base pairs per patient and proofread every single base pair. So we established a system that is driven with a centralized database using robots and high-sequencing throughput machines, connected to proprietary software for our analysis.

We get a bit of DNA in the laboratory, and establish an electronic chain of custody so that every step/reagent/plate/technologist that interacts with that sample is recorded. We amplify specific regions of that DNA using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, and amplify 1000 copies of a particular region of a chromosome to millions of copies. We then separate out specific regions of chromosomes by size, and those are fluorescently tagged so we can look at specific sizes of regions. In those regions we look for repeating elements -- 4 base pairs repeating over and over. So this is not gene DNA, this is garbage or spacer DNA. For example, my spacer DNA on chromosome 13 may have a repeating pattern of 12 on one chromosome and 15 on another, and yours might have one of 7 and 5. We create a numeric printout of all of the spacing size of these regions, which is analyzed by our technologist. That number profile is then sent to New York for identification.

(Enlarge Image)
Figure 1.

Representative short tandem repeat (STR) gel image. After the DNA is isolated and amplified in the presence of specific fluorescent tags, the different sizes of DNA from all of the markers are separated on electrophoresis gel. This is a snapshot of that separation gel. It has 88 specimens (plus controls); each vertical lane comprises 10 different markers from 1 specimen. Published with permission of Brian Ward, PhD, Myriad Genetics, Inc.; Salt Lake City, Utah.

(Enlarge Image)
Figure 2.

Representative allele calls. Fluorescent markers from the gel are transformed into a wave form and presented on a computer screen, so that a data analyst can examine and make the specific allele calls that comprise the STR profile. Published with permission of Brian Ward, PhD, Myriad Genetics, Inc.; Salt Lake City, Utah.

(Enlarge Image)
Figure 3.

Sample allele calls. This is the summary of all markers from 1 sample. There are a total of 14 markers per sample, some overlapping. The letters across the top are the specific markers: D13 is a marker on the 13th chromosome; D21 is from chromosome 21; Amelogenin is the sex chromosome pattern; D21 allele calls are 27.0 and 30.0; the CSF pattern is 11.0/11.0; and the FGA pattern is 18.0/20. Published with permission of Brian Ward, PhD, Myriad Genetics, Inc.; Salt Lake City, Utah.

Q: What are the specific difficulties of DNA analysis for this particular project?

A: The greatest difficulty is the bacterial breakdown of DNA and the putrefaction of skin. Generally, degraded DNA works very well for STR; you might not get all 14 markers, but if you have 9 or 10 markers, that is more than adequate for analysis. The largest challenge is actually finding a biological specimen that is persevered well enough to extract DNA (that is the greatest difficulty). Our experience has been that if there is DNA present, we are extremely successful in obtaining a profile.

If a victim's flesh is charred, or seared, so to speak, forensic pathologists can actually cut into the tissue, and it actually works as a preservative by searing and sterilizing the outside of the tissue. If the bodies are incinerated, like in a crematorium, the only thing that will remain will be bone. The chances of getting DNA from bone are small, but the chances of getting mitochondrial DNA are pretty good.

Q: What is the minimum sample size of DNA needed to run an analysis?

A: In the nanograms -- very small amounts are needed. In fact, our reaction mixtures are normalized at 3 micrograms per microliter.

Q: How long does it take to run 1 sample in the lab?

A: In a casework environment, you can run 1 sample in about 1.5 or 2 days; however, that is not what our environment is good at doing.
If you brought a single sample into our lab and asked us to analyze it, that would be difficult. However, if you brought 1000 samples to us and asked us to analyze those samples in 2 weeks, our production environment works great. So in general, it takes approximately 2 weeks for us to cycle through all of the tests. We analyze each sample 4 times. We have 2 amplification programs, PROFILER and COFILER; we run both twice, then we run the proprietary software, SURELOCK -- that is the database and chain-of-command software used to analyze the data.

Q: What percentage of the victims will be identifiable?

A: I'm very hopeful that if biological samples are obtained, about 70% of them will be identifiable. However, unlike a plane crash, we don't have a manifest, we are not quite sure who is where, and it's difficult to get a relative's DNA. It's just unknown at this time. Unlike a plane crash, like at the Pentagon, they know that they have 283 or so victims, they can measure against that number, and they have a pretty good idea of who was there.

Q: How many samples does Myriad/New York City expect to run?

A: No one is really talking about the number of samples right now. The samples started to come in at the rate of approximately 1000 a day, then there was a short lull, and now things are back to about 1000 a day. Estimates range anywhere from 50,000 to 1.5 million samples.

Q: How long will this take?

A: The most telling statistic is the fact that 4 weeks after the attack, only 20% to 25% of the rubble pile has been moved. We are looking at at least another 4-6 months for recovery efforts, and another several months for DNA analysis. This is an ongoing project, and as the recovery gets longer and longer, the DNA is going to be much more difficult to analyze, because it will be degraded.

Q: Is there a cutoff time as to how long a sample will be viable?

A: No, it depends very much on the local conditions. But for the Swiss Air crash, where victims were immersed in 4° seawater for a month or so, [researchers] were very successful in extracting DNA. On the other hand, this is a very different type of crime scene because there is jet fuel, fires that are still burning, water, and rubble -- so nobody knows. The medical examiner's obligation is to run DNA analysis on any sample that is recovered.

Q: How much will this cost?

A: I'm glad you asked that question. I can truthfully say that we have had no meaningful conversations about the costs of these tests with anyone. Of course we know the actual costs of the tests, but that is proprietary information. Generally speaking, these sample types cost in the vicinity of $50 a sample. The collection, cataloging, and extraction of DNA can be 1-10 times more expensive than the tests that we run. Our challenge is the fact that we have had to create multiple new informatics pathways in our automated system in order to accept these samples. Our commitment is that we will not benefit financially from this endeavor. We think that it is unethical to make a profit on this work, although we are a for-profit company. We will be doing this at a modest, reasonable expense.

Q: Who is handling the DNA analysis in Washington, DC?

A: The Armed Forces DNA laboratories in Maryland.

Q: Is there any precedent of DNA forensic analysis of this scale?

A: This is anywhere from 20-40 times larger than anything that has ever been encountered. The Swiss Air crash was the first time this type of DNA analysis had been used in a forensics environment, and then there was also [the] Egypt Air [crash].

Q: Are there any concerns of "cross-contamination" between samples?

A: Yes, [because the samples are not extracted] in the laboratory. Our lab was designed for high-throughput genetic sequencing of breast, ovarian, and colon cancer patients, so we have built our robotic systems to manage that contamination. However, at the site, you can mix samples. So far we've seen very little contamination. That is in regard to STR contamination. However, the challenge is with mtDNA -- it requires much more amplification, so minute traces of contamination are really a problem.

Q: What advances in DNA analysis have been made in the past 5 years?

A: The technology has not actually changed that much, but about 4-5 years ago, the Technical Working Group on DNA for Forensics standardized the markers used for amplification in North America.

Q: What is the accuracy of the tests?

A: Once you get a match, the accuracy will be 999,999 out of a million, or higher. Sometimes you can get a match to identity that the person's profile belongs to a specific person, without a shadow of a doubt -- 100%.


Identifying The Thousands Of 'Jumbled Bones' At Burr Oak Cemetery Nearly Impossible: Experts

RUPA SHENOY | 07/16/09 08:25 PM | AP

CHICAGO — Human remains strewn amid overgrown weeds have deteriorated into jumbled bones. Paper records in a rusted metal cabinet have dissolved into dust.

Days after horrified relatives learned that former workers at a historic black cemetery near Chicago allegedly dug up hundreds of bodies in a scheme to resell grave plots, relatives are learning that DNA likely won't help them find their loved ones. The piles of bones and deteriorated records may make identifying many remains impossible.

"Identifying everyone would be a tremendous long shot," John Howard, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, said this week.

Officials estimate that at least 300 of 100,000 graves were tampered with at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill., which is the burial place several famous Americans including civil rights-era lynching victim Emmett Till. Four former workers are charged with dumping exhumed bodies in a deserted field the size of four square blocks in order to resell grave plots. Till's grave was not disturbed.

In the weeks since authorities announced the graveyard scheme thousands of relatives have flooded the cemetery looking for answers. Some, who knew exactly where their family member was buried, reported missing gravestones or unkempt plots – but many others couldn't figure out where the relatives were buried because the cemetery's records were in such disarray.

Forensic experts say it's possible to extract enough viable DNA from many of the skulls, teeth and large bones. But investigators warn that it may not do much good because in order to find matches, scientists would then also have to test relatives from all of those buried at Burr Oak.

"We would theoretically have to get families of all 100,000 people that are buried there (to provide DNA samples)," said FBI spokesman Ross Rice. "It's insurmountable almost."

But even if all families were tested, many of those buried were from the same family and the DNA collected may not clearly identify exactly which relatives the bones belong to.

There's also another wrinkle. Thousands of bones may be mixed together. Investigators say it may be impossible to sift through them to match them to specific people and return complete remains to a single grave.

"The family might want to know they have their Uncle Joe back in the ground in one place," said former New York City chief medical examiner Michael Baden, who helped identify the bodies of more than 1,000 people killed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "But if families think that every single bone can be identified, that's unrealistic."

Some experts believe the situation at Burr Oak is so unique that there are few comparable cases.

Investigators sifted through rubble only to find tiny bits of remains after the Sept. 11 attacks, but like a deadly plane crash, scientists could compare DNA results with a definite list of victims.

Baden said the situation at Burr Oak is reminiscent of the mass graves found from the civil war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. But in that case, investigators were able to identify many victims because remains were held together by clothing that family members recognized.

Some experts point to a case in Georgia seven years ago as similar to Burr Oak. A former crematory operator was accused of leaving more than 300 bodies to rot in piles. Even though the bodies were largely intact, at least a few were never identified.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said that in some ways the challenges of identifying people after a plane crash pale in comparison to what investigators are facing at Burr Oak.

"We have no idea who was on this plane," said Dart. Authorities have found record books with missing or moldy pages, disintegrated file cards stuffed in rusty cabinets. In one drawer, investigators found an animal nest, woven together with tufts of gray fur and shreds of paper records.

Another looming issue is whether crime labs in Illinois and elsewhere have the capacity to handle such a glut of DNA tests. Many labs in the U.S. already have huge backlogs, often related to murder, rape and other pressing criminal cases.

"How many people in a DNA lab can be diverted (to the Burr Oak case) is the question," Baden said. "Three weeks from now, when medical examiners start asking, 'What about my homicide case?' priorities could become an issue."

Scientists are also worried that some of the remains may not have enough viable DNA, especially because the chemicals in embalming fluid can damage the genetic blueprint, Howard said.

Dozens of officers have been slowly walking Burr Oak's grounds, scouring for signs that would reveal a tampered grave. On Wednesday, Dart joined them and stumbled over a hole in the ground. Officers dug it up and found a simple grave marker for Veda Kaufman, who died in 1971.

"My God, we have tried everything humanly possible to give people answers," the sheriff said. "But when you deal with things like this are you ever going to be able to get complete answers and complete closure? No way."

Ralph Thompson Jr., whose mother, father and son are among six generations of family members buried at Burr Oak, is one of those relatives hoping for answers. But the self-described junkie for TV crime shows says he knows this is a case where the mysteries won't be solved so easily, and families may have to settle for a mass burial for their loved ones.

"TV is TV. We're always looking for a good ending," said Thompson, 41, of the Chicago suburb of Elgin. "But in real life this is a whole different ball game."


amirrortotheenemy - October 27, 2010 07:28 PM (GMT)
Tea, Sympathy, but Little News on the Missing
At a center to trace loved ones, families express frustration with delays in identifying the dead.
July 10, 2005|Carol J. Williams | Times Staff Writer

LONDON — They wanted answers. They got tea and tissues and vague assurances that someone would soon be in touch.

Family members of those missing since terrorist bombs hit London on Thursday spent a third day Saturday filing reports, contacting hospitals and bracing for the inevitable visits to an emergency morgue where the bodies and parts of bodies -- not a single one yet identified -- were being delivered from the blast scenes.

Numb with grief, relatives of the presumed victims worked their way through the expressions of sympathy at a missing persons center where police investigators began collecting information but had yet to dispense any news.

"No one seems to know what is going on," said a frustrated Billy Yuen, whose wife, Rachelle, a 27-year-old accountant, left for work Thursday morning but hasn't been seen since.

A native of Mauritius, Yuen is the missing woman's only kin in Britain. He met with a liaison officer at the newly created tracking center, located in a community sports hall, going over the details of her disappearance.

He even has set up three hotlines in case anyone has information on her whereabouts. But he has received no word.

The family members of Alaoudin Asghar learned that his 20-year-old cousin, Shahara Islam, wasn't registered at any of the hospitals they had been contacting. But two solemn policewomen who took his information could offer only cups of tea, a counselor if he wanted to talk with someone, and a promise that Islam's father, the family's designated contact, would hear from a liaison officer.

Apologies for the delay accompanied explanations that the blast sites are crime scenes and forensic investigation has taken precedence over identification of the victims. Police estimate that the remains of about 25 victims remain trapped in one subway train near King's Cross Station.

Det. Supt. Jim Dickie, in charge of body recovery for the Metropolitan Police investigation, said it would take weeks to complete identifications and offered official sympathies for the failure to give despairing relatives timely closure.

The police interviewers, mostly female officers, dispensed their doses of sincerity and comfort in gentle tones. But word that identification was still days, if not weeks, away provoked desperation, dejection and even anger from relatives.

(Page 2 of 3)

"This is absolutely appalling. A Third World country would do a better job of it," fumed a distraught Gous Ali, who feared his girlfriend, Neetu Jain, had boarded the double-decker bus that was blown up at Tavistock Square.

After Ali and Jain's sister and father huddled with police interviewers at the tracking center for nearly an hour, they were told a family liaison officer would be in touch, perhaps on Monday.

"We said, 'This is just not acceptable,' " Ali reported after their visit to the Queen Mother Sports Center in central London, where they filled out documents, providing details of Jain's last known movements for the umpteenth time.

Like other groups of distraught relatives who hoped to receive news, they were steered through a phalanx of security checks into a basketball court that was divided into makeshift cubicles.

The occasional wail of a grief-stricken relative broke an otherwise hushed atmosphere. Social workers stood at the ready, as did two boxes of tissues at each table.

Although many who have searched in vain for missing loved ones expressed frustration, others attributed the delays in identifying victims to the scale of the tragedy.

"We're all frustrated with how slow it is to identify the victims, whether dead or alive, of this kind of disaster," said David Golovner, a friend of 37-year-old American Michael Matsushita since they met in third grade in the Bronx, N.Y.

"But we want to make it clear we are not frustrated with the authorities. We don't feel they are lagging. We're playing a waiting game, which is awful. But both the [British] family support services and the American Embassy have been very supportive. They're just challenged by manpower issues."

Golovner accompanied Matsushita's parents, Muoi and David, on an overnight flight from New York to assist them in searching for their son, who was en route to a new job Thursday morning. The missing man had moved to London only a month ago to join his fiancee, Rosie Cowan. The two met three years ago while working as tour guides in Vietnam.

Some took the search for the missing into their own hands.

"Have You Seen This Man?" read the fliers bearing a photo of financial manager Jamie Gordon, 30. His fiancee, Yvonne Nash, has papered the area around King's Cross Station with the notices and inundated the airwaves in her quest for clues.

(Page 3 of 3)

Friends of Polish accountant Monika Suchocka, 23, put up posters appealing for calls from anyone recognizing the smiling young blond in the picture. A woman who answered the phone number on the flier said she had filed a missing report on her "closest friend," but declined to discuss the case. "If you're not a British newspaper, you can't help me," she said.

Dickie, the police forensics official, says investigators have been slow to deliver bodies to the mortuary specially designated for bombing victims because the blast sites must be combed for evidence that could lead police to the perpetrators.

"No bodies have been identified as yet because as of [Friday] we only started to receive bodies into the temporary mortuary," he said. "Autopsies will be starting today. Until that's done, we won't have gathered the necessary information to make the identification process."

None of the 49 confirmed dead have been identified, Dickie said, nor have any next of kin been informed of any details discovered at the bombing scenes, which could confirm their worst fears.

He implored the concerned relatives to be understanding given the daunting conditions under which recovery crews and medical examiners were compelled to work.

"Most of the victims have suffered intensive trauma, and by that I mean there are body parts as well as torsos," he said describing the remains of 13 victims moved from the site of the bus explosion at Tavistock Square to the mortuary.

Of the bomb scene near the King's Cross Station, he said, "The environmental conditions are extremely uncomfortable. It's very confined." Recovery workers were still removing an unknown number of corpses from an underground tunnel.

With the consent of victims' families, Dickie said, police would begin collecting "ante-mortem data," identifying evidence such as fingerprints, dental records and DNA samples taken from tooth and hair brushes.

But Dickie cautioned that it would take weeks to complete identifications of the victims.

Gous, a 32-year-old property developer, said his hopes of his girlfriend being found alive were fading.

"I still have hope that someone made a mistake, that they identified her wrongly and she's lying unconscious in a hospital somewhere," he said. "But maybe I'm deluding myself. It doesn't look very good, does it?"


amirrortotheenemy - November 8, 2010 11:47 PM (GMT)

numeral - November 9, 2010 12:31 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (amirrortotheenemy @ Nov 8 2010, 11:47 PM)
Some related threads

gruesome but necessary question
Have the bodies of the alleged bombers been found?

^ worth a repost: CTC knew about GL on the 8th. Quick blog at some stage?


    *  Published Date:  25 October 2005
    * Location: Aylesbury


(TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25) Aylesbury was just 30 minutes away from a full evacuation following the July 7 bombings when anti-terrorism police first connected the town to the terror attacks in London, The Bucks Herald can reveal.

New details emerged last week about the immediate threat police believed Germaine Lindsay posed to the public after the suicide bombings on London's transport network rocked the capital.

A day after the attacks Chief Superintendent Simon Chesterman, the most senior police officer in Bucks, arrived at his office at Aylesbury Police Station to be confronted by Scotland Yard's counter terrorism unit.

Detectives believed that Lindsay, the Kings Cross bomber who killed 26 people, was, in fact, a fifth bomber, was still alive and posed an immediate threat to public safety.
Officers had discovered the car of Germaine Lindsay, who lived in Northern Road, abandoned at Luton train station, where he travelled to London with three other bombers.

What followed, said Chief Supt Chesterman, was the biggest police operation he had ever witnessed in 22 years on the force.

He said: "On July 8 I arrived in my office to be confronted by a team from the anti-terrorist squad."

Source (Bucks Herald)


amirrortotheenemy - November 9, 2010 01:08 AM (GMT)
Probably only pertinent to DNA analysis of individual items at the scenes and Alexandra Grove (including Shakil and others) rather than the identification of bodies

Working with DNA evidence

Thursday 04 September 2008 by Brian Costello and Mark Fenhalls

It is important for defence solicitors to understand DNA evidence better and routinely to press for greater disclosure, say Mark Fenhalls and Brian Costello

On 20 December 2007 the case against Sean Hoey (R v Hoey [2007] NICC 49 – the Omagh bombing case) failed. Mr Justice Weir was critical of many aspects of the prosecution case, including the Forensic Science Service’s Low Template DNA Analysis technique (commonly known as Low Copy Number, or LCN DNA). The judgment included trenchant criticism of the principal expert from the Forensic Science Service called by the Crown.

In response to the criticism, the Crown Prosecution Service and police suspended the use of LCN evidence almost immediately. On 14 January 2008 they declared that a review of current cases was complete and the use of the technique was reinstated.

The Forensic Science Regulator (Andrew Rennison, former policeman and director of the Gambling Commission, was the first full-time appointment in February) commissioned a review chaired by Professor Caddy. The report, A Review of the Science of Low Template DNA Analysis, was delivered on 11 April. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the overall conclusion was that the LCN technique was ‘sound’, subject to a number of caveats.

Does this mean lawyers can assume that the science is now robust and take LCN results at face value? We would suggest not.

Setting the scene
LCN is designed to work with samples from the crime scene that may be significantly smaller than those used with the standard DNA profiling technique (SGM+). These extraordinarily small samples are potentially problematic.

First, there is no reliable way of determining how or when such small amounts of DNA may have become transferred. For example, a recent article in New Scientist reported that human DNA profiles can be detected in samples of household dust. Second, the potential for contamination of samples is significantly greater than with samples large enough to test with SGM+. Third, the extra cycles required by the LCN technique to amplify or ‘grow’ the samples prior to the declaration of the profile throw up anomalies at a far greater rate than when a standard SGM+ test is used. Finally, very small starting samples inevitably suffer from random ­stochastic or sampling effects.

To illustrate this last point, imagine a bag of 1,000 marbles – 500 red and 500 black. Trying to correctly determine the red-black ratio by drawing a sample of only four marbles would often result in error, but if a sample of 40 marbles is drawn you would expect it to reflect far more accurately the red-black ratio.

These problems are universally accepted as a feature of LCN analysis, and Professor Caddy himself made a number of specific criticisms of current practice which relate to these problems. Professor Caddy’s criticisms suggest that confidence in LCN results ought to be conditional upon significant procedural improvements.

In summary, these criticisms are as follows:

    * All DNA samples should be quantified – ie a test should be conducted to determine the amount of DNA present – before further analysis;
    * Training of laboratory and crime scene personnel should be standardised across the various laboratory suppliers and police force crime scene officers;
    * It is essential that DNA free consumables are used, both in the scene of crime collection kits and in the laboratory analysis of samples.

There is no clear and accepted legal and scientific consensus on the scoring and mathematical analysis of LCN DNA results. Such a consensus needs to be developed.

The Police Elimination DNA database is currently incomplete, and this may be a cause of problems for LCN DNA.

All LCN scientific reports (and therefore court evidence) should include the caveat that the DNA may have been transferred by means unknown, and this includes reports concerning touch DNA. In the opinion of the report writers, it is inappropriate to comment on the source of the cellular material at all in LCN cases (for example, to say the result most likely came from saliva in the area around a postage stamp on an envelope, or from touch where it was obtained from fingerprint areas).

The increasing use of police forensic science laboratories is an area of concern. While it is to be hoped that general standards of evidence acquisition and handling are far better now than in the case that confronted Mr Justice Weir, it is a source of significant concern that so many shortcomings still exist. It remains to be seen whether such shortcomings, in a particular case, are sufficiently serious to persuade the Crown not to rely on, or the judge to exclude, such evidence. Clearly, the Crown also has responsibilities to consider the reliability of the LCN technique. Pushing the boundaries of LCN may result in the universal rejection of the technique by the courts.

The question arises: why do prosecuting authorities continue to use LCN at all? The answer is that LCN will generate DNA results where regular testing will not. However, the quality of LCN results will vary. At one end of the spectrum will be the easily interpretable and probably evidentially acceptable result; at the other end will be a scientist’s essentially subjective interpretation of a poor result. Prosecutors need to be alert to when they are approaching the lower end of this spectrum, and to ask themselves whether pressing for admission of tenuous LCN results is in the interests of justice in the particular case, and also in the wider interest of the evidential acceptance of the technique.

Questions to ask
Regarding the nature of the profile: is it distinct or part of a mixture? Is the profile full? If not, what statistics does the prosecution scientist ascribe to the partial profile? The weight to be attached to a full profile achieved using SGM+, which is extremely unlikely to occur twice in the UK population, is clearly far greater than that to be attached to a LCN ­partial profile, for example with a match probability of 1 in 60,000, which can be expected to occur in 1,000 people in the UK.

Are there any indications of multiple contributors to the crime scene sample that have been discounted or disregarded? What biological findings are there that might tend to undermine the assumptions about numbers of contributors to the crime scene stain?

What legal practitioners need to be aware of – and many are not – is that, when more than one person’s DNA is collected in a swab, it is impossible to separate the individual DNA components. Instead, the mixed DNA sample is collected, extracted and analysed as one sample. It is only when rules are applied and assumptions are made (educated guesses) that individual profiles can be inferred from a mixed sample.

Taking the sample
Was the collection of DNA adequate? Specifically, was the DNA collected with ‘DNA-free’ sample collection kits that ought to be used if LCN testing is being considered? The Caddy report notes that the decision to use kits that are not certified ‘DNA-free’ is cost-based. Establishing in front of a jury that a police force is more concerned about saving a few pounds than ensuring reliable DNA results is likely to be a valuable point for defence counsel. Such an argument will be most impressive in cases where there is an anomaly in the results that might be explained by contamination.

What was the standard of training and knowledge in relation to LCN of the crime scene officers who collected the samples? Were they properly clothed and wearing face masks throughout? Might other police officers on scene – before samples were taken – have inadvertently contaminated samples? Are they all on the Police Elimination database? Are all Scenes of Crime Officers who collected and/or handled samples on the database? Were samples first analysed by a police laboratory before submission for independent analysis? The Caddy report indicated that police labs are not ISO certified; as a result, they are unlikely to have the same safeguards as LCN labs (positive pressure environments, regular deep cleaning and so on). They may not be staffed with people trained to the necessary degree in preventing contamination during LCN analysis.

Profile technique
LCN is a ‘technique of last resort’. Sometimes this means that SGM+ has been tried and failed. Frequently, however, it means that a scientist has reached a judgment that SGM+ is unlikely to work. The basis for such a judgment may well prove fertile ground for criticism.

If LCN has been used, was the amount of DNA quantified first?

Is the laboratory applying the technique properly accredited, and are its personnel suitably trained? Has the laboratory adjusted any of its procedures to meet the detailed recommendations of the Caddy report?

Did the DNA result meet acceptable scoring/analysis criteria? How many times was the sample analysed? Failure to undertake multiple tests may render the result less reliable. Over the number of tests, how different were the results? Are there alleles or peaks that cannot be attributed to the suspect, the victim or other identified contributor? If so, what is the expert/police/prosecution explanation for these anomalous alleles/peaks?

Final thoughts
It has been our experience that current levels of prosecution disclosure are inadequate to answer many of the questions we suggest should be asked. If this is true at the trial stage, then it will be even more pronounced at the police interview stage. Rarely will those interviewing have a complete understanding of the potential strengths or weaknesses in the DNA result provided by the lab.

Defence solicitors need to carefully consider whether it is in their client’s interest to answer questions about DNA results until sufficient material is disclosed to properly understand the significance of the result. The bold statement of a match probability, with no reference to the method of analysing the sample (eg SGM+ v LCN) or possible problems in the interpretation (for example contamination, difficulty interpreting a mixture), in anything but the most definitive of DNA results, may be inadequate for a defendant to make a properly informed choice about answering questions. Defence solicitors need to understand DNA evidence better and, particularly in LCN cases, routinely press for greater disclosure.

At the same time, prosecutors ought to be prepared to go behind the expert statements in LCN cases, and need to ask the necessary questions to establish the reliability of LCN results before they seek to introduce them as evidence.

Mark Fenhalls is a barrister at 23 Essex Street. He appeared in a leading DNA case: R v Bates [2006] EWHC 1395 (Crim). Brian Costello worked as a research scientist in genetics for five years before qualifying as a solicitor in Australia.


B4. Adventitious (chance) DNA Matches
B4.1 Move to 16-marker system (recommendation 23)
Lines to take

    * SGM Plus DNA profiling is very discriminating between individuals. The probability of obtaining a match between the profiles of two unrelated individuals by chance is very low, of the order of 1 in a billion. However, it has not yet been possible to carry out the required statistical testing to be able to quote this match probability, and in practice a more conservative chance match figure of 1 in 1,000 million is used.
    * The Government has every confidence in the current SGM Plus profiling technology but recognises that it should keep its reliability and level of discrimination under review.
    * The NDNAD now contains the profiles of over 3 million individuals from our population of 60 million. We are not aware of any chance match between two full SGM Plus profiles for unrelated individuals having been obtained to date. However, as the size of the NDNAD grows and as more international comparisons are made with other countries' DNA profiles, the probability, although currently very small, will increase.
    * The SGM Plus profiling system looks at 10 STR (short tandem repeat) areas of DNA. It would be technically possible to improve the discriminating power of the SGM Plus profiling system further by testing for more markers, for example by developing a profiling system which looks at 13 or 16 STRs.
    * Recent research studies by the European DNA Profiling Group (EDNAP) and the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) have demonstrated that the success rate for analysis of partly degraded samples (which may be found at crime scenes and which result in a partial profile with less than 21 markers) improved by using recently developed tests for markers based on mini-STRs (shorter lengths of DNA).
    * At a meeting earlier this year, EDNAP/ENFSI agreed that its strategy should be to incorporate tests for some of the mini-STRs into new profiling systems. It was also proposed that work should be undertaken to re-engineer the test for the existing markers in SGM Plus to make them easier to detect in degraded DNA.
    * For DNA profiling in the UK, this might mean the addition of tests for 3-6 of the new mini-STR markers to the current (possibly re-engineered) 10 SGM Plus markers, ideally in a single profiling technique i.e. the development of a technique which looks at 13-16 STR areas.
    * The international scientific community have agreed that the best way forward would be to develop a new 13-plex or 16-plex technique. This would also need to take account of the divergent requirements of the different European countries. The timescale for the development and introduction of a new multiplex profiling technique (one that looks at multiple markers) would be a commercial decision by the companies that make the multiplexes. It is estimated that the development of a new 13-plex or 16-plex could take 2-3 years. A 13 marker system would give match probabilities of about 1 in 10 (to the power 15) (compared to 1 in 10 (to the power 12) for SGM Plus).

Background Information

    * The technology used to obtain DNA profiles for the NDNAD looks at specific areas of DNA, known as short tandem repeats (STRs). STRs are known to vary widely between individuals by virtue of variation in their length and are therefore extremely useful for identification purposes.
    * The STRs are found only in the non-coding region of DNA and therefore provide no information of genetic significance e.g. about an individual's genetic predisposition to a medical condition.
    * The DNA technology used in forensic science has evolved enormously since DNA was first used in 1987. The first STR technique was introduced in 1994 and looked at only 4 STR areas. The next development was SGM (second generation multiplex) profiling which looked at 6 STRs. A multiplex is a profiling system which looks at more than one STR area.
    * The current technology is SGM Plus, introduced in 1999, which looks at 10 STRs. For each STR, there are 2 markers (or alleles), one from the individual's mother and one from their father. There is also a gender marker. A full DNA profile for the NDNAD therefore contains 20 markers and the gender marker.
    * When fewer than 20 markers have been determined - for example from degraded or incomplete samples from crime scenes - the level of discrimination is reduced accordingly.
    * The Government has every confidence in the current SGM Plus profiling technology but recognises that it should keep its reliability and level of discrimination under review.
    * The NDNAD now contains the profiles of over 3 million individuals from our population of 60 million. There is a very small probability of a chance match occurring between two full SGM Plus profiles for unrelated individuals, but we are not aware of any such chance match having been obtained to date. However, as the size of the NDNAD grows and as more international comparisons are made with other countries' DNA profiles, this probability, although small, will increase.
    * The risk of a chance match will also increase if the crime scene profile is a partial profile (i.e. does not have all 21 markers). Comparison of partial profiles from crime scene samples with full SGM Plus profiles from individuals on the NDNAD is thus more likely to result in matches being found relating to more than one individual. The evidential significance of a match between a suspect and a crime scene sample must always be considered in conjunction with other evidence available to the police.

B4.2 Current Practice in Preventing Adventitious Matches involving SGM Profiles

NB. The issue of how chance matches are avoided in relation to DNA profiles developed using the SGM system (which has now been replaced by SGM Plus) was raised at the last hearing of the Committee.
Lines to take

    * In relation to SGM to SGM matches (which test for only 6 STRs), Home Office Circular 58/2004 and the ACPO DNA Good Practice Guide advise that strong consideration should be given to upgrading the SGM suspect offender profile to SGM+ to ensure that the upgraded SGM+ suspect offender profile matches the crime scene profile before the matter comes to trial.
    * If the upgraded profile does not match with the crime scene profile, the NDNAD issues a Match Elimination Notification which indicates that the further analysis has eliminated the original SGM suspect offender profile from the SGM to SGM match. [The inference would be that the original SGM to SGM match was a chance match.]
    * It was suggested that a sampling exercise should be carried out to provide assurance that police forces were taking appropriate action to monitor and deal with SGM match notifications received from the Database.
    * The Home Office has recently written to several police forces to ask them about their procedures for considering the evidential quality of SGM matches e.g. whether such matches are upgraded to SGM+ and in what circumstances.
    * The forces have also been asked to undertake a case-tracking exercise of crimes with DNA SGM matches to look at how many SGM matches were upgraded to SGM+, how many continued to match the crime scene profile and, if not, whether the case went to court on the basis of other non-DNA evidence or whether there was insufficient evidence to proceed. [How about, as well, where cases went to the court on the basis of SGM matches?]

Background information

    * The SGM profiling technique was introduced in 1995 around the time that the NDNAD was established. SGM (second generation multiplex) tests for 6 STR areas or markers. It was subsequently replaced in 1999 by SGM Plus which test for 10 STR areas. Since June 1999, only SGM Plus profiles have been loaded on to the NDNAD.
    * In 2001, the National DNA Database Board recommended that consideration should be given, on a case by case basis, to upgrading any SGM profiles involved in a match, before taking any further steps, to minimise the risk of the match being adventitious (chance).
    * When a match involves an SGM profile, the police are made fully aware through caveats attached to the match report of its potential limitations as an intelligence tool for identifying suspects.
    * In 2004, the NDNAD and CPS agreed to a policy of charging on the basis of a Database match but only where there was sufficient supporting evidence. If the match involved an SGM profile, upgrading the profile to SGM Plus was recommended.


amirrortotheenemy - November 15, 2010 12:06 AM (GMT)
A Home Office 'Lessons Learned' document from the 22 September 2006:

Treating the Dead with Dignity and Respect

Issues with the response

47. An initial temporary mortuary was set up to receive fatalities within 24 hours. Over the following 48 hours, full mortuary and autopsy facilities were built in accordance with pre-prepared plans.

48. This facility enabled fatalities from each of the four bomb locations to be attended to by separate dedicated teams carrying out the necessary forensic and identification work. The mortuary also provided comfortable surroundings for the bereaved and offered them assistance from counsellors. These pre-planned arrangements worked well. But many bereaved families reported the distress they experienced as a result of the length of time the process of identification took, and the lack of information about the process and why it took so long. Many bereaved families felt their desperate need to know was ignored by the authorities and that more information about what was happening would have alleviated their feelings of helplessness.

What we are doing

49. It is essential to ensure absolute certainty before a family is told about the death of a loved one and this may take time. We hope that, by explaining the nature and complexity of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process to families in full, and by improving the way the police communicate with families, we will be able to make the experience less distressing for them. We are working up a series of information sheets for victims of major emergencies that we will collect together in an online library. These will include a sheet about the DVI process, to be distributed by Family Liaison Officers and at Assistance Centres. In addition, the police are reviewing the training for Family Liaison Officers so that they are better aware of the DVI process and the issues for families.

50. Plans for incidents that result in mass fatalities, similar to the London Plan, are either now in place or near completion in other parts of the country. Appropriate sites for temporary mortuaries are identified in these plans. In March, a contract was awarded for the lease of a “demountable temporary mortuary structure” similar to the one used in London (essentially a portable building equipped as a mortuary), which can be split to cope with separate incidents. The purpose of the contract is to improve the response when an emergency overwhelms the local mortuary. Arrangements are also in place to provide the mortuary with the necessary equipment to supplement that currently available locally.

51. The coroners involved in the response to the bombings worked hard to deliver a fast and effective service. But the bombings showed that current coroner legislation established in the 19th century does not lend itself to a flexible response in the aftermath of a major 21st century incident. The deaths occurred in three coroners’ districts and the present law severely limits coroners’ powers outside their own boundaries. Although these restrictions did not prevent an effective response following the bombings, they could hinder an effective response in the future. A draft Bill was published for consultation in June proposing reforms to the coroner’s system in England and Wales. Whilst not specific to emergencies, the Bill gives coroners new powers to enhance the effectiveness of their investigations, including removing boundary restrictions to make the service more flexible. The Bill also creates a new office of Chief Coroner who will be able to co-ordinate response of the coroner system to mass-fatalities incidents spanning more than one coroner area.


It doesn't seem substantially different to what they've proposed to do in regards to issues deemed beyond the scope of the inquest.

10 My Lady, one further area that I do not propose to
11 open in detail now, because you have properly determined
12 that it falls outside the scope of these inquests, is
13 that of identification.
14 It is clear to us that the process by which their
15 loved ones were identified, how they were informed of
16 their deaths and how they were informed only after the
17 formal disaster victim identification process was
18 complete has given rise to a huge amount of anguish on
19 the part of the families.
20 All I should say, because this is an issue which
21 doesn't fall within the scope of these inquests, is that
22 your coroner's officers in the Metropolitan Police have
23 fulfilled your direction that this issue should
24 nevertheless be separately addressed by way of
25 a separate report prepared and published by them for the


1 families.
2 That detailed report, which will be disclosed
3 shortly, shows that the Metropolitan Police have
4 endeavoured to explain how the complex disaster victim
5 identification system works and that it's obligated to
6 conform with a number of internationally agreed
7 protocols and that explains why the deceased were
8 removed from the scenes in the way that they were, why
9 the scenes had to be forensically searched in the way
10 that they were and why there were then necessarily
11 delays in informing their loved ones of their deaths.
12 They've addressed questions concerning the family
13 liaison officers, the Metropolitan Police Casualty
14 Bureau and specific concerns raised by a number of
15 families and they've also sought and obtained a witness
16 statement from the leading expert on this process of
17 disaster victim identification, Commander Bracken, who
18 was either involved in or in charge of matters at
19 Ladbroke Grove, the Selby disaster, Potters Bar,
20 Hatfield and the south-east Asian Tsunami. We very much
21 hope that that material will go some small way to
22 assuaging the concerns that have been expressed to us by
23 the families.

amirrortotheenemy - November 16, 2010 04:16 AM (GMT)
The Marchioness disaster is referenced a lot in much of the legal argument before the October opening. They also go so far as to mention the controversies surrounding the treatment of the deceased. What they neglected to mention was that Paul Knapman and Jim Dickie, who were both involved in the London bombings, were also involved in the Marchioness disaster.

The Marchioness disaster occurred on the River Thames in London, in the early hours of 20 August 1989. The pleasure boat Marchioness sank after being run down by the dredger Bowbelle, near Cannon Street Railway Bridge. There were 131 people on the Marchioness crewing, waiting and attending a private birthday party; fifty-one of them drowned.


In 2001 an inquiry into the competency and behaviour of Captain Henderson by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency concluded that he should be allowed to keep his master's certificate as he met all the service and medical fitness requirements. However, they "strongly deprecated" his conduct in drinking 5 pints of lager in the afternoon prior to the accident and for his admission that he had forged some signatures on certificates and testimonials in order to obtain his master mariner certificate of competency in 1988.[4]


An Identification Commission, chaired by Paul Knapman, the Coroner for Westminster, will meet daily to identify the dead. His team includes Rob Chapman, the supervising pathologist, Detective Superintendent Jim Dickie, the Metropolitan Police senior investigation manager, and a leading orthodontist.


Damning report into Marchioness tragedy

Report: Lord Justice Clarke

A public inquiry report into the Marchioness riverboat disaster on the Thames in central London is to be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said today.

The entire report, by inquiry chairman Lord Justice Clarke, would be passed on "for him to consider whether action would be appropriate against Captain Henderson or any other party", he said.

The report severely criticised captain Douglas Henderson, of the dredger Bowbelle, who drank six pints of lager on the afternoon before the collision between the two vessels which killed 51 people on the pleasure boat.

Lord Justice Clarke held back from recommending any disciplinary action against Captain Henderson because of the amount of time that had elapsed and on human rights grounds.

Mr Prescott said: "The preliminary advice that I have received is that there is little prospect of a successful prosecution of Captain Henderson."

The 1989 accident was a "catastrophe which should never have happened", Lord Justice Clarke said. Poor lookouts on both vessels were responsible for the collision, the report said.

In a separate report today Lord Justice Clarke criticised Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman for his decision to cut the hands off more than 20 of the Marchioness victims for identification purposes.

Lord Clarke added: "It is to my mind a shocking feature of the case that it was possible for a pair of hands to be left undiscovered in the (Westminster) mortuary, not just for months but for years.

"The hands should not have been removed and Dr Knapman must bear the responsibility for the fact that they were."

Mr Knapman said: "We have learned from our experiences following the terrible tragedy of the Marchioness.

"I note Lord Justice Clarke's findings in respect of my own actions. I am particularly gratified that his report concludes that I acted at all times in good faith and with the best of intentions."

Partygoers were celebrating on the Marchioness on the night of August 20, 1989 when the collision occurred near Southwark in central London.

Today's report follows a 10-year battle by survivors and relatives and friends of the victims to have hearings in public.

The Clarke report said: "The basic cause of the collision is clear. It was poor lookout on both vessels. Neither vessel saw the other in time to take action to avoid the collision."

The report said the accident was caused at least in part by the fault of Captain Henderson and Marchioness skipper Stephen Faldo to set up and operate a proper system of lookout on their vessels.

The report said Captain Henderson should himself have kept a proper lookout and if he had he would have seen the Marchioness.

It said that on the afternoon before the 1.45am collision Captain Henderson "drank more than he should".

Although it was reckoned that Captain Henderson would have no alcohol in his bloodstream at the time of the collision, the report added: "We cannot stress too strongly how much he deprecate Captain Henderson's conduct in drinking so much before returning to the vessel as master."

The report also criticised the owners of the Bowbelle East Coast Aggregates and its managers South Coast Shipping who "must bear their share of responsibility for the collision for failing properly to instruct their masters and crews and for failing thereafter to monitor them."

Also, Marchioness owners and managers Tidal Cruises had taken "no effective steps to ensure that the skippers of their vessels were instructed to detail the mate to keep an all round lookout when they were at the wheel and themselves to keep such a lookout when the mate was at the wheel."

In addition the skipper had not been "sufficiently instructed or supervised or monitored by Tidal Cruises."

Lord Clarke said the Department of Transport had been "well aware of the problems posed by the limited visibility from the steering positions" on both the Marchioness and the Bowbelle.

This knowledge had gone back to the 1970s and was also gained from a number of collisions in the early 1980s.

The report said that when the Department had considered the proposed conversion of the Marchioness in 1979 this consideration should have involved the vessel having good all round visibility from the steering position. But the Department did not do this, said the report.

Also, Lord Clarke said that the Port of London Authority should have issued a general direction in 1983 requiring vessels with limited visibility forward to station a lookout forward who would have an effective means of communication with the wheelhouse.

Lord Clarke said Marchioness families have been considerably distressed over the failure of the Bowbelle to provide any rescue assistance to the Marchioness after the collision.

The report added: "We concluded that Captain Henderson was properly to be criticised for failing to take three particular steps to assist.

"He should have broadcast a Mayday and he should have deployed both the lifebuoys on the Bowbelle and her liferaft."

On the search and rescue operation, the report concluded that the Metropolitan Police service "was ill-prepared for the disaster which occurred in that there was no specific contingency plan to deal with a major disaster on the river and that there was a dearth of rescue craft."

It added: "The police simply did their best with the resources available to them."

Lord Clarke held a separate inquiry on the identification of victims following major transport accidents. This followed the concerns of Marchioness families about the cutting-off of hands and the treatment of bodies and relatives' rights to see bodies.

His report said: "No one paused to consider the possibility of a deceased person being identified by dental records before the decision to remove the hands was taken."

Stressing that Dr Knapman had to bear responsibility for the wrong decision to remove hands, Lord Clarke said that the coroner had "acted throughout in good faith and with the best of intentions" and he had not, in Lord Clarke's opinion, acted recklessly.

But the report said that there was no proper system in place at Westminster Mortuary at the time to deal with such a disaster.


Coroner decried as 'butcher' in Marchioness row
By Richard Alleyne 12:00AM GMT 09 Dec 2000

THE coroner in the Marchioness pleasure-boat tragedy on the Thames was condemned as a "butcher" yesterday and urged to resign during an inquiry into how the victims were identified.

Angela Bensamenn, 56, whose son Dean Palmer was one of the 51 people killed in the 1989 tragedy, vented her anger as Dr Paul Knapman defended his decision to cut off victims' hands to take fingerprints.

The hearing was told that the hands of Elsa Garcia, a 25-year-old language student, had been lost. They were discovered four years later at the bottom of a refrigerator in Dr Knapman's mortuary and destroyed.

Mrs Bensamenn, who now lives in New Zealand, stood up and shouted: "Your mortuary is so dirty that it took four years to find a child's hands. You are a butcher."

Dr Knapman, the coroner for Inner West London, was giving evidence at the end of the second week of the latest inquiry into the collision between the Marchioness and the Bowbelle dredger. During the hearing, overseen by Lord Justice Clarke, the coroner was accused of "arrogance" and lack of concern for relatives' feelings.

He admitted that 25 of the victims had had their hands removed for identification purposes without relatives knowing, even though it was not necessary in all cases. The details would have been an "unnecessary burden" to loved ones.

Hands are sometimes cut off and taken to more advanced laboratories if other attempts to take fingerprints fail. It was a last resort, Dr Knapman said. But he admitted that 12 of the Marchioness victims were in the process of being identified by their dental records when their hands were removed.

Dr Knapman said: "All decisions were taken with the best of intentions and I deeply regret that some aspects of the aftermath have caused upset. I would just like to say how very sorry I am."

But relatives said it was "too little, too late". Billy Gorman, whose sister-in-law Carmella died in the accident, said: "I am appalled at his arrogance. If he will not resign, we ask the Home Secretary to suspend him."


'Marchioness' coroner accused of being a butcher

By Kate Watson-Smyth

Saturday, 9 December 2000

The coroner in the Marchioness riverboat tragedy was yesterday described as "no less than a butcher" by bereaved relatives at the inquiry into the identity of victims from the 1989 disaster.

The coroner in the Marchioness riverboat tragedy was yesterday described as "no less than a butcher" by bereaved relatives at the inquiry into the identity of victims from the 1989 disaster.

As Dr Paul Knapman defended his decision to remove the hands of victims so they could be identified, Angela Bensamenn, whose son Dean Palmer was among the 51 people killed, stood up and started shouting at him.

The inquiry heard that the hands of Elsa Garcia were among those removed following the accident when the Marchioness collided with the Bowbelle on the River Thames in August 11 years ago. They were found by accident in a bag four years later by a member of the coroner's staff who was cleaning a fridge.

As Dr Knapman spoke, Mrs Bensamenn stood up and shouted: "If your mortuary is so dirty that you cannot find a pair of hands for four years, you are no less than a butcher."

Refusing to be calmed by the chairman of the inquiry, Lord Justice Clarke, she added: "It's in the public interest not to be deceived. I have come all the way from New Zealand to hear this from you." She then broke down and was led out of the room by another bereaved relative, although she returned shortly afterwards.

She and the other families were at the inquiry to hear Dr Knapman's view on why the hands of more than 20 victims were removed without their families being consulted.

Dr Knapman said relatives should not automatically receive full and open information about post-mortem examinations because of their gruesome nature. He defended himself against suggestions that he failed to ensure a system that guaranteed the appropriate body went to the appropriate undertakers and that it was his fault the identification process was unco-ordinated.

The removal of hands was a last resort when dental records and fingerprint identification had failed, he said, but admitted some hands had been severed before other avenues of investigation had been exhausted. He had gone on holiday two days after the accident and his instructions about the removal of hands had not been specific enough and could have been read as blanket authority that it should take place.

Dr Knapman apologised for any distress he may have caused.

The hearing continues.


Westminster Coroner

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Caplin.]

10.19 pm

Mr. Chris Pond (Gravesham): I am grateful for the opportunity to place before the House the concerns about the conduct of the Westminster coroner felt by people who have come into contact with him following the loss of loved ones.

I thought carefully before seeking this debate. No Member should lightly raise in the House criticisms of an individual, especially when that individual is a judicial officer responsible for such high profile investigations as the Marchioness disaster and the Clapham and Paddington rail inquiries. However, I consider that the concerns about the conduct of the Westminster coroner, expressed over a long period, raise questions not only about his own record but about the trust that the public can place in the coroner system more generally.

The Westminster coroner, Dr. Paul Knapman, is no stranger to criticism. I first came across him through my involvement with the families and friends of those who had lost their lives in the sinking of the Marchioness pleasure boat in 1989. I worked with those families to press for a full public inquiry into the tragedy, which my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, granted in 1999. I know those people as determined and courageous, struggling to come to terms with the tragic loss of their loved ones—a task made more difficult, I have to say, by the behaviour of the coroner, Dr. Knapman, at the first inquest. Yet in a letter of 22 May 1991, Dr. Knapman described the bereaved as

      Xa number of mentally unwell relatives and survivors who mutually support each other".

In 1994, the Court of Appeal found that his comment to the Daily Mail, when he described the mother of one of the Marchioness victims as Xunhinged", was not merely injudicious and insensitive but bound to be interpreted as a gratuitous insult. Lord Justice Simon Brown said that the coroner's Xapparent bias" towards the victims' families may have been a factor in his refusal to grant a second inquest.

The Westminster coroner attracted further criticism when it became known that he had authorised the removal of the hands of 25 of the Marchioness victims for identification purposes. Lord Justice Clarke, in the public inquiry into the Marchioness disaster and river safety, was especially critical of the decision to mutilate the bodies of the victims when other means of identification were readily available. Lord Justice Clarke put the matter effectively in his report:

      XThe important point is that hands were not being removed as a last resort, but were being removed in all cases. As a result, hands were removed notwithstanding that dental records were being obtained or had been obtained or possibly in one case just after a dental match had been made."

In one case, a victim's hands were removed even though the belt he was wearing contained a photograph of him, a blood donor card and the keys to his flat. Inevitably, that caused distress to the relatives of the deceased—once they were informed. However, that was not until two years later. Information about the victims' hands having been withheld, it is perhaps not surprising that

23 Oct 2002 : Column 379
relatives were refused the opportunity to see their loved ones to pay their last respects. Some never again saw the people they had lost.

It was some years after that event, and following criticism from Lord Justice Clarke, that Dr. Knapman expressed his regret at that decision. He said:

      XI did not fully recognise the distress that further disfigurement of the bodies might cause."

That reveals a remarkable lack of imagination in a man responsible over many years for dealing with bereaved relatives, and it underlines the importance of training for coroners and their staff in basic human skills.

To add insult to injury, a pair of hands was found in the bottom of the coroner's freezer, not months but three years after they had been removed. It may be that they were never used for identification purposes. Without consulting the relatives, the hands were incinerated, without the option of being reunited with the body.

All that is public knowledge. The public inquiry report was especially critical of the fact that human tissue had been treated so casually. At the very end of his inquiry, Lord Justice Clarke learned that tissue samples taken at the post-mortem examinations of four of the Marchioness victims had been overlooked until they were discovered at Westminster mortuary in December 2000. That was more than 11 years after the individuals concerned had died. Hearing that news, the families made arrangements for the interment of that human tissue, including the choice of a remembrance plaque. However, today, I was told that the items referred to could no longer be found.

Mr. Michael Portillo (Kensington and Chelsea): I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving me a moment of his time. He may recall that I was Minister of State for Transport at the time of the Marchioness disaster. The terrible morning when we learned that so many people had been lost in that tragic accident is one of the most abiding memories of my life, and I have tremendous sympathy for the relatives of those who died. However, Paul Knapman is my constituent and I know that the Lord Chancellor wrote to him to admonish him for some of the events connected with the Marchioness disaster. Paul Knapman wrote back to the Lord Chancellor to express his contrition. I believe that the Lord Chancellor is of the view that the matter should be allowed to rest there, and I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to accept that also.

Mr. Pond: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that contribution and I know that he knows well the circumstances of the Marchioness tragedy. I have welcomed the admonishment by the Lord Chancellor, to which I shall refer later, and also the response from Dr. Knapman. However, as I hope to show, several other concerns need to be taken into consideration. It may be that the unfortunate circumstances of Dr. Knapman's conduct in the Marchioness tragedy and subsequent events have been reflected in other cases.

One such was the case of Susan Annis, whose parents have contacted me and my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Laura Moffatt), who is unable to contribute to this debate because she has other duties this evening. Miss Annis was a 31-year-old nurse who was the first of

23 Oct 2002 : Column 380
a series of victims of one of her colleagues, Kevin Cobb, who attacked women sexually, having administered midazolam, a sedative since dubbed a date-rape drug. Although Dr. Knapman detected midazolam in Susan's body, he attributed no significance to it, even though four deaths due to the drug had already been reported to the Committee on Safety of Medicines. A colleague of Susan Annis, Dr. John Parsley, wrote to Dr. Knapman to raise doubts about the open verdict, in view of the presence of the drug. In a letter dated 26 March 1997, Dr. Parsley warned:

      XI believe that drugs in the same class as midazolam have been used in assaults."

Dr. Knapman wrote back saying:

      XIt takes us no farther",


      XI am taking matters no farther".

He later dismissed Dr. Parsley's warning as a Xred herring". He also did not report Dr. Parsley's concerns to the police.

New information suggests that Dr. Knapman may well have known that midazolam was in the same class as a drug banned in America as a date-rape drug. At present, that evidence is confidential and I am passing it to the Minister after the debate for her to consider whether she or her ministerial colleagues wish to take the matter further.

It was only when Dr. Parsley went to the police two years later, having heard that Kevin Cobb had been arrested for rape, that it became clear that Susan had died at the hands of a serial rapist, rather than from unexplained but unsuspicious causes. The tragic conclusion must be that if the coroner had taken more heed of the warnings raised by a medical colleague and had referred those to the police, Kevin Cobb might have been apprehended sooner and other women would not have been subjected to sexual assaults.

Susan Annis's parents submitted a complaint to the Home Office about the way in which their daughter's death was treated by the coroner. The Home Office replied that the Home Secretary had no powers to investigate or comment on the conduct of individual inquests, because

      Xcoroners are independent judicial officers".

However, the Home Office passed on Dr. Knapman's response to the complaint. It included a somewhat chilling statement that

      Xin his district, several times a year relatively young people (under 30) die where there is no cause of death found".

No cause of death was found by Dr. Knapman in the case of Susan Annis, but we know now that she was unlawfully killed. In how many of the several other unexplained deaths every year in the district covered by Dr. Knapman is the cause of death not found because the proper questions are not asked, or evidence is overlooked? I ask the Minister to consider whether her Department or the Home Office should look again at those cases in which the Westminster coroner has recorded an open verdict, to see whether the verdict is a secure conclusion in each case.

The hurt and humiliation because of the treatment of their loved ones' remains were not confined to the Marchioness families. In August 2000, Dr. Knapman wrote to the parents of Susan Annis refusing their

23 Oct 2002 : Column 381
request to see the file on their daughter's inquest and telling them that they would have to ask the police if they wanted to see post-mortem photographs. Astonishingly, in the same letter, written almost four years after Susan's death, the Westminster coroner added a paragraph that concluded:

      Xthe brain is still in storage at the Maudsley Hospital. I therefore have to ask you whether you would be content for it now to be incinerated in the usual way?"

That was the first that the parents had heard that the brain of their daughter had been removed and that she had been laid to rest without it.

I have referred to the concerns expressed to me about the conduct of Dr. Knapman in two particularly high-profile cases. Some of it will have been new but most of it will not. In answer to a parliamentary question tabled by me, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department reported that, following Lord Justice Clarke's inquiry, the Lord Chancellor concluded, as the right hon. Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Mr. Portillo) has reminded us, that

      Xthe Westminster coroner's actions on this occasion fell below the standard to be expected of a judicial officer",

and that

      Xhe issued a formal admonishment."—[Official Report, 6 November 2001; Vol. 374, c. 200W.]

The Westminster coroner has been shown the yellow card. I ask the Minister to review the conduct of Dr. Knapman over time, not only following the Marchioness tragedy but in other cases, to judge whether it might now be time to show the red card.

There are wider lessons to be learned about the role of coroners. I welcome the current review of coroners and death certification, which was partly stimulated by the conduct of the coroner in the Marchioness inquiry. A basic requirement is for the careful recording of information, not—as in the case of the Marchioness post mortems—notes collected in an A5 notepad. Without that careful recording of information, it is very difficult for relatives or other concerned parties to know whether an inquiry has been properly carried out.

I have already referred to the need for training of coroners and their staff to enhance the social skills needed to deal with the bereaved sensitively. In that context, I welcome the review's early identification of a defect in the system—failing to establish clear participation rights for bereaved people, including the provision of information. Most important, relatives must have a right to see the bodies of their loved ones. Whether they decide to exercise that right is up to them.

No families should ever again be treated as the Marchioness bereaved clearly were: as a troublesome nuisance. The coroner's review gives us an opportunity to learn the lessons of the past. If it does, it will be a lasting tribute to the work of those bereaved families who have fought so hard to ensure that in future no families find that they have to cope with humiliation as well as grief.


There were two inquiries into Marchioness held in 2000

Formal Investigation under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995


The second inquiry may be of interest to us, but I've had trouble finding a copy of the report online

Non-Statutory Inquiry into identification of victims following major transport accidents

This Inquiry will be conducted in two parts: 

Part 1 will deal with the identification procedures used in relation to the MARCHIONESS/BOWBELLE disaster.

Part 2 will deal with identification procedures used generally following any major transport accident.


Chronology of the Marchioness Disaster



20 August 1989

Marchioness was struck and sunk by the Bowbelle - 51 people were killed.

August/September 1989

Families were denied access to view deceased.

22-25 August 1989

First inquest was opened and adjourned.

23 April 1990

Inquest resumed.

26 April 1990

DPP announced that Bowbelle captain Douglas Henderson faced a limited charge of "failure to keep a proper look-out by all available means." Inquest adjourned so as not to prejudice trial.

4-14 April 1991

Henderson trial: Jury failed to agree on verdict.

17-31 July 1991

Henderson retrial: Jury failed to reach verdict again. Henderson was formally acquitted.

August 1991

Marine Accident Investigation Board (M.A.I.B.) Report

February 1992

Coroner confirmed that the Hands of 27 of the deceased had been removed.

Early 1992

Report by Dr. Toft: commissioned by MAG to provide a critique of the M.A.I.B. Report.

June 1992

Private prosecution by Mr. Cloggs - terminated after 3 days on the question of "Causation."

7 July 1992

Hayes Report: Remit was to investigate into the handling by DOT since 1980 of its responsibility for safety of vessels on rivers and inland waters. In light of the Marchioness Disaster, Hayes recommended an independent review of PLA, rescue arrangements, and equipment on the River Thames. Government refused inquiry.

22 July 1992

Coroner's Court: Dr. Paul Knapman refused to stand down and refused resumption of Inquest.

18 January 1993

The High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division: Justice Popplewell grants M.K. Lockwood Croft leave for Judicial Review based on apparent bias of Dr. Knapman in the use of the word "unhinged."

17 May 1993

The High Court of Justice, Divisional Court: Judicial Review heard by Lord Justice Niel and Mr. Justice Mantell.

7 July 1993

Judicial Review: granted leave to appeal to the High Court.

23-24 May 1994

The High Court of Justice: Sir Thomas Bingham, Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Farquharson and Lord Justice Simon Brown heard the appeal.

10 June 1994

Judgment: Dr. Knapman, Coroner and his assistant were stood down. M.K. Lockwood Croft won appeal to apply for an inquest. The High Court and Home Office selected a new coroner.

10 July 1994

Dr. John Burton, Coroner, was nominated to determine whether an inquest was to be held.

18 October 1994

Dr. Burton granted an Inquest for all the Marchioness families.

13 March to

Coroner's Court: Dr. Burton held the new Inquest.

7 April 1995

The Coroner Jury returned the verdict "Unlawful Killing."

26 July 1996

CPS, after deliberating for a year, concluded that there was "insufficient evidence to justify any further criminal proceedings in this case."

13 October 1996

Southwark Cathedral: Dedication service was held for the additional Memorial Stone containing the names and ages of the of the 51 people who were killed in the Marchioness Disaster.

18 August 1999

Announcement by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott of a Public Inquiry into Safety on the Thames and some aspects of the Marchioness Disaster.

27 September 1999

Lord Justice Anthony Clarke presents Terms of Reference for the Thames Safety Inquiry.

2 December 1999

Lord Justice Clarke's interim report was presented to Parliament by London and Shipping Minister Kieth Hill.

22 December 1999

The final report of the Thames Safety Inquiry was submitted. It contained 44 recommendations for actions on safety measures but did not recommend an over-sight body to monitor them nor suggest a time for their completion.

14 February 2000

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced that "he has ordered a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Marchioness disaster, and its causes," Lord Justice Anthony Clarke will conduct the Inquiry and have the power to obtain documents, to issue summons for the attendance of witnesses, to take evidence on oath and to order cross-examination.

2 October 2000

Marchioness/Bowbelle Formal Investigation begins.

30 November 2000

The Non-Statutory Inquiry into the Identification of the 51 Victims of the Marchioness River Thames Disaster and the removal of hands from some of the Victims purportedly for fingerprinting.

23 March 2001

FI and NSI reports Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions by Command of Her Majesty.
Copies may be obtained at Her Majesty's Stationery Office, St Clements House, 2-16 Colegate, Norwich NR3 1BQ.

October 2001

Application made to EU Human Rights Court

2 January 2002

The launch of Lifeboat Service on the Thames by RNLI.

12 March 2004

Reforming the Coroner System resulting from the Marchioness Disaster and the murders perpetrated by Dr. Harold Shipman.


Draft Coroners Bill ongoing consultations.  Minister in Charge, the Rt/Hon Harriet Harman, QC MP.


Defending established safety standards on the River Thames implemented after the Marchioness Disaster.  Petition against the EU Directive 96/50/EC new European Boat Master's License which would reduce the age and training qualifications.  Article 3(2) provides exemptions when higher standards are already in place.  Minister in Charge, Dr. Stephen Ladyman, MP.

6 March 2007

Two MAG committee members and three Watermen met with Deputy Prime Minister the Rt/Hon John Prescott MP, to ask for his support regarding "Safety" and "Training" on the River Thames.

7 March 2007

The same two MAG committee members gave oral evidence to The All Party Transport Select Committee who are investigating the EU New Boat Masters License.


amirrortotheenemy - November 22, 2010 10:15 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (amirrortotheenemy @ May 19 2010, 09:33 PM)
Trying to add full names to the following witness statements re: incriminating evidence on Tanweer and Khan


Appendix A : Summary of Evidence (Pages 27-28)

1.1 Binstead

1.2 Swift (Andrew Swift of Just Car Clinic)

1.3 Copper and Wilson (Detective Constable Malcolm Wilson)

1.4 Wilson, McDonald (Andrew John McDonald of Orchid Cellmark?), March and Clayton

1.5 Meneely (Andrew Meneely of Met Police's Counter-Terrorism Command?) , McDonald and March

1.6 Binstead, Cheesley

Clayton may be Tim Clayton:

The corrupt UK legal system has no Frye or Daubert iritations to overcome. All they have to do is show that some "scientific" process has been published in a scientific journal. If those articles show it is not fit for purpose then that is totally irrelevant to the UK system of 'justice'.
"4 October 2006 ... It allows scientists to pinpoint DNA samples when more than one individual has touched a surface, where only small amounts of DNA have been left behind or only poor quality material was found. This means a great many more families could look forward to securing justice Paul Hackett , DNA manager for the FSS The technique, DNAboost, will lead to scientists identifying 40% more samples than at present, a spokeswoman for the government-owned FSS said. FSS scientists believe DNA boost could be the key to countless "cold cases" which have lain dormant in police files when it is combined with existing techniques allowing a DNA match from minute samples. ..."
BBC TV news coverage lunch tiome showed a FSS forensic 'scientist' pointing at a pc monitor displaying an electrophoreogram with him stating that this squiggle vaguely emerging from the mush level "may" be a peak from another contributor. That news story on the evening news, that section with the pc monitor had been replaced with a simplified graphic with no ambivalence concerning any peaks you just couldn't make up this stuff and be believed.
So if they already know the identity and DNAboost "ends up finding the person they're looking for" why use it ? FSS consultant forensic scientist Dr Tim Clayton, who works with DNAboost, told us the lateral thinking at its foundation is "beautifully simple, like all the best ideas". It works by turning the database search into a process of elimination, so rather than looking for a match, it compares the sample's DNA fingerprint to every entry in the NDNAD and ranks them for similarity. A lot of the time it ends up finding the person they're looking for, and we learned that there are already several active prosecutions which used DNAboost as part of the investigation.


DNAboost to cold cases

By Chris Williams

Posted in Biology, 4th October 2006 14:55 GMT

The Forensic Science Service (FSS) is piloting a DNA technique it says could lead to countless unsolved criminal investigations being reopened.

The technique has already been useful in current investigations numbering in double figures, The Register has learned.

DNAboost is a piece of software which it's hoped will help forensics interpret genetic sequences from mixed samples. Incidents where minimal cell fragments are collected or have been degraded present difficulties distinguishing between individuals.

The FSS says its tests on DNAboost have shown it could improve DNA profile yield by as much as 40 per cent, and detection rates by 15 per cent. The possibility is for thousands of "cold" cases being supplied with new leads, the FSS reckons. DNAboost-resolved samples could identify multiple users of a weapon in more cases, for example.

DNA manager Paul Hackett said: "We've been able to demonstrate an increased rate of interpretation even in those areas that have proved traditionally most difficult – fragments of cellular submissions."

The technology behind DNAboost is based on a simple idea. Rather than compare a mixed sample to every profile in a database, the DNAboost algorithm turns the problem on its head, turning it into a process of elimination. There are 20 data points in a DNA profile, for a sample from more than one individual trials showed the program would quickly return the right number of matching profiles.

FSS consultant forensic scientist Dr Tim Clayton, who works with DNAboost, described the lateral thinking at its foundation as "beautifully simple, like all the best ideas".

Despite this apparent simplicity, the FSS is claiming a world first on the application.

DNA boost is being trialled by the FSS for four police forces on their local DNA repositories: West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northumbria and Humberside.

A government-owned limited company, the FSS hopes to roll out DNAboost to all of its police force customers. The service is in negotiations with the Home Office for access to the National DNA Database, the world's largest database of human DNA profiles.

The new technique does nothing to broaden the reach of the National DNA Database, which civil liberties groups criticise for retaining DNA from individuals who have never been charged or prosecuted. If anything it may help quieten calls within government and law enforcement for the database to be expanded, as current data should be better utilised. ®



Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK

Tracing Baby Lilly's mother
By Sarah Portlock
BBC News, Warwickshire

The mother of a newborn baby girl found inside a plastic bag in a river has been sentenced to two years' probation for concealing the birth. But how did detectives track her down?

Baby Lilly was found on the banks of the River Alne near Alcester in Warwickshire on 11 May, 2006.

Detectives revealed she had suffered several injuries including a fractured skull and collarbone soon after birth.

But they had few leads as to who the mother was, despite several appeals including one on the BBC's Crimewatch programme, and it took almost a year to trace her.

The only clues were in the bag in which she was found, which also contained towels, clothing and a sanitary towel.

'Technically complex'

In the end, detectives were helped greatly by the work of the Forensic Science Service (FSS).

Despite having worked on some complex cases, such as identifying British victims of the Waco siege in 1993 and those killed in 1999's Paddington train crash, the service said it was the most technically complex case it had encountered.

Dr Tim Clayton, a consultant forensic scientist with 17 years experience, described it as ''highly challenging" and said that on occasions, colleagues were a little "gloomy" about getting a result.

"Because of the circumstances of the find, everything was massively waterlogged and in an advanced state of decomposition.

"The DNA was extremely degenerated and we had to use every trick at our disposal to piece it together," he said.

Blood on towels

Getting a DNA profile both of Lilly and then her mother proved to be a tall order which took weeks and weeks.

"Because of the decomposition of the body it was very difficult to get a profile. With an adult we can use a tooth or bone but it's not so easy with a baby.

"It took weeks and weeks to get a sample."

Eventually, samples were extracted from a muscle and then painstakingly, partial results were pieced together until there was a whole profile.

Rachael Davies
Rachael Davies was traced after ten months
The next job was to get the mother's profile which scientists hoped could be obtained from blood on towels and other items found in the bag.

But the river had washed away most of the blood stains and what did remain had putrefied.

"In the end we used a sanitary towel which, because they hold in the blood, had bound some in and protected it," Dr Clayton said.

"Mother and child share half a DNA profile so eventually we knew we had found the mother's."

But despite this, there were no matches on the police's DNA database to enable detectives to trace the mother.

Eventually police spoke to Miss Davies for undisclosed reasons and took a mouth swab which revealed her to be the mother.

"We performed dozens and dozens of tests and a lot of money was spent on getting a result," he said.

"Warwickshire Police were prepared to go the extra mile to get there."


Press Releases
FSS helps identify skeleton found in Lake Coniston after 34 years

An inquest held today in Barrow-in-Furness has concluded that the remains found three months ago in Coniston Water are those of Donald Campbell.

In order to establish identity, DNA tests were conducted by the Forensic Science Service (FSS) using the latest DNA technology.

DNA Low Copy Number (DNA LCN) is a super-sensitive test that enabled scientists to get a full profile from bones of the skeleton even though it had been immersed in water for 34 years.

Comparisons were made with reference DNA samples taken from both Donald Campbell’s daughter and full sister.

These showed that the DNA profile obtained from the bones was approximately 1.9 million times more likely if it originated from Donald Campbell as opposed to another unknown unrelated man.

Dr Tim Clayton, the FSS scientist whose team conducted the work, said:

“The DNA LCN technique pioneered by the FSS has been invaluable in achieving such highly discriminating DNA results from fully skeletonised human remains.

“Using this technology we can now expect to obtain results from samples that, up until a few years ago, would have been resistant to DNA analysis.

“The development of this technique now offers the potential to identify human skeletal remains to a high degree of confidence.”


2nd Edit:



Timothy Mark Clayton, Ph.D.
Forensic Science Service
Wetherby, England

Disaster Victim Identification, Identification of Missing Persons, and Immigration Cases


Source (PDF)

Case Study

Operation Phoenix, the country’s largest cold case review of unsolved sex cases, achieved a double milestone with the first life sentence to be passed by the courts for the first serial offender identified by the investigation.

Gary Mitchell was sentenced to two life sentences after Operation Phoenix linked him to two rapes he committed dating back 25 years.

Wetherby’s major crime specialist adviser, Cathy Turner, said the sentence demonstrated the importance of the operation and provided further reassurance to the public.

The operation has proved so successful that Cathy gave a talk to US forensic scientists and police officers in Florida to enable them to adopt the technique used in Phoenix.

Gary Mitchell, 41, originally from Felling, Gateshead, was arrested in 2000 on suspicion of burglary in Hexham and gave a DNA sample. That matched a sample taken from the scene of a rape in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, in 1995 which was on The National DNA Database.

Mitchell was convicted and sentenced to ten years for the rape.

In 2003, Operation Phoenix was able to link him to the rape of a woman in Birtley, Tyne and Wear, in 1987 where the victim was grabbed at knife point, dragged on to waste ground and raped.

Just days before he was due to stand trial for this offence, the Phoenix team were able to link him to a second rape in Felling in 1979.

In both cases, crime scene stains were re-examined and Low Copy Number (DNA LCN) was used to gain a DNA profile. In both cases, a profile could not be obtained at the time of the offence.

Mitchell pleaded not guilty to the 1987 rape but was convicted. He then pleaded guilty to the earlier rape.

“It was a very exciting time for us. We didn’t expect to identify a serial offender in this way - just as they were before the court on another case”, said Cathy

“This goes a long way to providing public reassurance. Women feel safer in the knowledge that serious sex offenders are being jailed. The sentencing shows how seriously the judicial system is treating these crimes, which further improves public confidence.”

“It also shows the worth of the operation and hopefully means police will set up similar operations around the country. The FSS is sitting on a gold mine of potential evidential material.”

Wetherby’s Tim Clayton was the reporting officer in the case and the work was carried out at the LCN unit in Wetherby. Both Cathy and Tim were given commendations by the trial judge for their work on the case.

Operation Phoenix, conducted by Northumbria Police, has looked at more than 400 unsolved sexual offences over a 14-year period from 1985-99. The project uses SGM Plus and DNA LCN to produce profiles in cases where the limitations of the technology at the time of the offence meant a DNA profile could not be obtained.

A total of 42 named matches have been obtained against The National DNA Database. Seventeen cases have gone to court with a total of 14 offenders being convicted of serious sexual offences, including the identification of three serial offenders. A second life sentence has also been passed in another case.

1979: A woman is raped in Felling but investigation fails to find the rapist.
1987: A Birtley woman is raped but DNA profiles cannot be gained from the crime scene.
1995: A woman is raped at her home in Chester-le-Street, a profile is entered on The National DNA Database.
2000: Gary Mitchell is arrested, his DNA matches Chester-le-Street rape, Sentenced to ten years.
2003: Phoenix matches him to Birtley rape, he is convicted then charged with Felling rape.
2004 (May): Mitchell pleads guilty to Felling rape, sentenced to life.


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