The Influence of Forensics in Colin’s Case

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Sorry for being later in delivering this but we are heavily focussed on preparation for our meeting with the Solicitor General on Monday.

Forensics cover a broad spectrum of area of analysis with regards reviewing a site of a major incident. We have already covered fingerprints but need to consider blood splatter, drugs, DNA and general information at the scene. Unfortunately for us, with the errors from the outset there is always a chance that things get lost.

At least the knife and articles of clothing were preserved and there was videoing of the site along with photographs. That was really it, because the case was shut virtually immediately there was no follow up to check for blood and determine if it was consistent with stated events. This is also true for any DNA sampling as the materials retained were limited and passage of time can cause problems.

What we can understand from statements made at the FAI, a number of people talked of blood in significant areas of the house but obviously checking more than a year later after decorating is problematic. What is really frustrating though is that if they know time of the essence, why did it take many months after receiving these statements for them to at least check. We hear statements from officials stating it wasn’t worth checking because of decorating but they seem to have failed to research that the area that has been highlighted was not redecorated. It seems that the prevalent attitude is why bother.

The DNA became a problem because at no time did they ever keep a sample of the DNA from the other person in the house, i.e., they take it then do nothing with it. The only thing of note with regards DNA is that a very low level of mixed DNA seemed to be found on the handle of the knife. With it being at such a low level, it would be impossible to determine the source. The thing about this is that a bit like the finger-marks on the blade, it is a suggestion that someone else could have held the knife. Although not surprising for a knife in a family house, it is not how this has been presented to us over the years.

A major area of dispute is over drugs, it is clear that Colin his partner and many friends used ecstasy and cocaine on what is described by most as a social basis. Somewhere along the line, it appears that this turns into Colin being a regular abuser of drugs and guilty by association with others while the other person is described as an occasional user and has no mention of this guilty association despite this being their social circle as well. Then what is done, Fife police get a report on the effects of regular abuse of cocaine and attempt to undermine Colin’s mental state. This is an on-going theme of pushing the image of Colin in one direction. We are lucky that at the FAI, Colin’s father and our lawyer did a good job in destroying this perspective and in fact the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) had to retract some statements. What would have happened if we were less prepared? How often can this happen to others?

An area that should probably have been covered in the pathology section is the wounds to Colin’s head. It is stated that the only physical act exerted on Colin was him being hit by a soft handbag to the side of his head. He has slight abrasions there and this consistent with what has been offered as an explanation. The problem is that there is a wound to the centre of his forehead that cannot be explained by events that night. At this point a leading pathologist said he believed that if he found what caused it he could match it because of the definitive pattern. There has been no effort to match this, only idle speculation as to what caused it. The question is so obvious, if something caused Colin’s wound and it is not present in the house, he sure as hell never moved it.

While it is obvious that there is very little to aid a decision as to what happened that night, we must ask, why would you want to make Colin look worse than he really was and why would you avoid investigating areas that may help?