May 21 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Evidence used against the men accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence was “contaminated”, the Old Bailey heard.
Defence counsel for the pair claim that fibres, blood and hair were transferred on to the clothes of Gary Dobson and David Norris by contamination during the early investigation, in 1993.
A police officer who went to Stephen Lawrence’s family home, searched the house of a man suspected of his murder a week later, a court heard today.
Detective Constable Linda Holden had visited the murder victim’s relatives on April 29, 1993 before being told to search Gary Dobson’s house in Phineas Pett Road, Eltham on May 7.
Prosecutors claim that microscopic fibres found on clothes belonging to Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, prove that they took part in the gang attack that killed Mr Lawrence.
Today Ms Holden told a jury at the Old Bailey that she was certain she had not worn the same clothes to the Lawrence and Dobson homes.
Timothy Roberts QC, for Dobson, asked: “Didn’t you think to yourself ‘just a minute, I’ve been to the Lawrence household just last week. It might not be a good idea for me to be at two different scenes’?”
“It was well over a week later and I didn’t think that I had any risk of contamination and certain senior officers knew that I had been to the Lawrence family home,” she replied.
Later in cross examination Mr Roberts asked: “Are you absolutely sure and can you swear on oath that you didn’t wear the same shirt?”
She replied: “Positive.”
Mr Justice Treacy asked what made her certain she had not worn the same outfit.
She told the court: “As I said earlier I knew that I was going into a search so I chose that morning to wear clothes that if they got soiled or whatever it didn’t matter.”
She went on: “I knew that what I wore on that morning was not the same outfit that I’d worn the week before.”
Ms Holden had visited the Lawrences on April 23, the day after Mr Lawrence died, and then again on 25, 27 and 28 with a final trip on April 29.
On May 7, working as an exhibits officer, she searched Dobson’s bedroom and seized items including a blue shirt, a grey-yellow jacket, a black bomber jacket and a black woollen jacket.
Detective Chief Inspector Alison Funnell, who was then a police constable and used the surname Rickell, helped in the search of Dobson’s home and said she had only “basic training” in avoiding cross contamination of fibres.
She told the jury: “I received basic training. At that particular time I was not a detective, I had not attended any detective training courses so it was the basic training as in you prevent cross contamination particularly between suspects and victims of crime.”
The jury was told that after Dobson’s clothes had been sealed into police bags at Bromley police station, they were taken back to Eltham.
There they were stored in the same disused cell where Mr Lawrence’s clothes had previously been kept.
Mr Roberts asked exhibits officer Robert Crane, who also gave evidence yesterday: “These Gary Dobson exhibits ... were then placed in the same store where the Stephen Lawrence items had previously been stored?”
Mr Crane replied: “Yes.”
Mr Roberts went on: “And they were handled by people who’d been handling the Stephen Lawrence items, yourself, and they passed across the same areas where the Stephen Lawrence packages and items had passed across?”
Mr Crane said: “Yes.”
The jury has already heard that cold case forensic teams found a speck of blood on the collar of Mr Dobson’s jacket that was a billion-to-one match to Mr Lawrence’s DNA.
There were also minute flecks of blood on the jacket itself that did not contain a full DNA profile.
In total there were 16 fibres which could have come from three separate items of clothing worn by Mr Lawrence, found either on the jacket or its evidence bag.
Two hairs were found in an evidence bag used to store a pair of jeans seized from Norris’s home, one of which was 2mm long and was found to match Mr Lawrence’s DNA to a certainty of one in 1,000.
A total of seven fibres were also found on a sweatshirt seized in the same search which potentially came from two items of Mr Lawrence’s clothes.