Case Studies

We take pride in our impartiality and provide our expert forensic services to the prosecution, defence and all "sides" of the judicial system. Our impartiality has been favorably commented on in court on many occasions. Some of our recent high profile cases include:

Suspected Drugs Misconduct

We were recently instructed in a case of suspected misconduct. “Mr S”, from a prominent organisation was suspected to have taken a controlled drug, namely Testosterone1, in contravention of his employer’s professional standards requirements. This was alleged to have taken place over several months and led to the member of staff being suspended from work pending an internal investigation. A urine sample taken from him had been found to contain elevated levels of Testosterone. We were asked to review the analysis work which had been carried out.

The defendant’s account was that he had taken pro-hormones and sports supplements over a period of time. These agents are not themselves controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act. We found that the pattern of use described by the defendant was entirely consistent with many people engaged in weight training. In addition, the pro-hormones described by the defendant were themselves capable of raising Testosterone levels within the body.  When we re-examined the analytical results, we also found that the analysis had been carried out by an unaccredited laboratory from overseas. According to the employer’s procedures, the analysing laboratory should have been accredited to ISO 17025 standard for forensic science laboratories. In addition, the results from the overseas laboratory were presented by an “expert” from the UK who had no primary knowledge of the tests carried out, the standards used or the interpretation of the results.

In our view, the results which were being presented did not provide robust and reliable evidence of the use of testosterone. During the Misconduct Hearing, we advised Counsel; the panel subsequently agreed with our interpretation and the case was dismissed. Mr S was returned to his duties.

1 Testosterone is a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

 

Penhallow Hotel Fire, Newquay, August 2007

One of the largest fires in Devon (“the worst hotel fire in the UK for 40 years”) claimed the lives of three residents of the hotel. Our expert spent several days examining the scene of the fire at the request of Devon & Cornwall Police. He reviewed many statements, photographs and videos before establishing the likely origin and cause of the fire and concluded this to be a deliberate fire.

Our expert gave evidence at the Coroner’s Inquest; however, no criminal charges were pursued.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-13277198

 

Lammy Crescent, Omagh, November 2007

A family of seven; mother, father and five children, were killed when fire swept through a semi detached house. We were asked to examine the scene by Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Our expert concluded that the fire had been deliberately started from within the property. Our expert gave evidence at the Coroner’s Inquest and the Coroner concluded that the fire had been started by the father, Arthur McElhill.

It emerged that Arthur McElhill was a convicted sex offender and had been having an affair with an under aged girl. The Coroner believed that his wife, Lorraine, was in the process of leaving with the children when Arthur McElhill poured flammable liquid around the property and ignited it with them all inside.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8401435.stm

 

R v Suzanne Holdsworth

Suzanne was jailed for life in 2005 for the murder of 2yr old Kyle Fisher. It was held that she had repeatedly banged his head against a banister rail. This sentence was quashed on appeal and a retrial ordered.

We were instructed by Stephensons solicitors to re-examine the injury marks and the comparisons made with the banisters by the prosecution scientist. We also examined the furniture, fixtures and fittings that were present to see if they could equally have been responsible for the baby’s injuries.

We concluded that other items of furniture could also have produced the shape of the injuries to Kyle. Medical evidence further indicated that Kyle could have had an epileptic seizure causing him to thrash about. Our evidence, along with the new medical evidence resulted in the acquittal of Suzanne Holdsworth.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1097514/Babysitter-wrongly-jailed-battering-year-old-boy-death-cleared-trial.html

 

R v Sean Hoey (Omagh Bomb)

We were instructed by Kevin R Winters, solicitors acting for Mr Hoey. We re-examined bomb components, reviewed prosecution evidence and advised Counsel during the trial. Sean Hoey was acquitted.

 

HMA v Malcolm Webster

In 1994, Claire Morris died in a car fire, following an apparent crash. Malcolm Webster walked away uninjured. It was treated as a tragic accident. Malcolm Webster moves to New Zealand and marries Felicity Drumm. In 1999, Felicity survived another car crash and is found to have a sedative in her system.

We were subsequently requested by Grampian Police to review the original cause of the fire. We examined the locus and reviewed photographs and witness reports. We advised that the most probable cause was by a deliberate ignition.

Meanwhile, Malcolm had returned to the UK and become engaged to Simone Bannergee. He shaved off all his hair to convince her he was suffering from leukaemia. Webster was arrested and charged with multiple counts including, murder, attempted murder, attempted bigamy and arson.

After one of the longest trials in Scottish legal history, during which our expert gave evidence and advised the Advocate Depute, Webster was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-12392028

 

R v Singer (“The Omlette Killer”)

Stephen Singer had laced his girlfriend drink and omelette with sleeping pills before attacking her and setting fire to the flat. We were instructed by defence solicitors Blavo & Co. We examined the scene, reviewed the prosecution evidence and advised Counsel during the trial.

http://www.newsmediaimages.com/omelette-killer-guilty-of-murder/