Claremont serial killings trial: Crime scene protocol questioned as former forensic officer tells court DNA technology was 'very much in its infancy'
A former forensic officer has told the Claremont serial killings trial DNA technology was “very much in its infancy” in the 1990s and forensic officers did not consider they could potentially contaminate a crime scene.
Ex-Telstra technician Bradley Robert Edwards, 51, is on trial in the Western Australia Supreme Court accused of murdering secretary Sarah Spiers, 18, childcare worker Jane Rimmer, 23, and solicitor Ciara Glennon, 27, in 1996 and 1997.
Former sergeant Barry Mott testified on Tuesday, saying there was no written protocol at the time to ensure forensic officers wore personal protection equipment at crime scenes.
He agreed officers often wore gloves to protect themselves and prevent leaving behind fingerprints.
Defence counsel Paul Yovich asked: “You certainly weren’t thinking you could contaminate something without even touching it?”
Mr Mott replied: “Definitely not.”
He said he arrived at Ms Rimmer’s Wellard crime scene in August 1996 in a white station wagon, and wore disposable forensic overalls and gloves.
Prosecutors allege fibres found on Ms Rimmer match a station wagon that Edwards had access to via Telstra.
Mr Mott also said Ms Rimmer’s body was not visible from the roadway, which contradicted the evidence of some other officers who said they did not need to enter the bushes to see part of her body.
He earlier admitted he may have inadvertently brushed against Ms Rimmer’s body while photographing the site.
In April 1997, Mr Mott attended Ms Glennon’s dumping site in Eglinton bushland where he collected evidence and helped move the body.
Asked whether he may have stepped on Ms Glennon’s hair or body, Mr Mott replied: “I honestly can’t recall ... trying to move a deceased body is quite difficult, especially one in that condition. You’re trying to protect the body as much as you can and trying to be respectful.”
Sergeant Mark Harbridge, who was a senior constable in 1996, said he wore gloves, a mask and overalls during Ms Rimmer’s two post mortem examinations, but did not get closer than 40cm from the body to photograph her.
He had also attended the dumping site, saying his job was mostly to hold up a light, and he did not wear gloves or touch Ms Rimmer.
The defence argues contamination may be an issue in the case, which relies heavily on DNA and fibre evidence.
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