Getting it wrong

One of the reasons for the (deeply flawed in my view) successful prosecution in the Stephen Lawrence case was the “new” forensic evidence whereby a tiny drop of blood on a jacket (which none of the witnesses remembers the accused wearing) put the two accused at the scene of the crime. Despite the defences attempts to question whether the evidence might have been contaminated, the two men were found guilty and sentenced to a number of years in prison. I and many others expect them to be out on an appeal to the ECJ in a few months owing to a change in the double jeopardy law that was applied retrospectively in their case as it was repealed specifically to target them.

What I didn’t expect was this…


A Devon man wrongly accused of raping a woman in Manchester has spoken of his anger over a DNA mistake which led to the charge.
Charges were dropped against the man when it emerged that a DNA sample was contaminated in the laboratories of Teddington-based LGC Forensics.
The man also said he hoped that the real rapist would be caught.
LGC Forensics said it deeply regretted that forensic evidence was contaminated in one of its laboratories.

LGC Forensics were the company who provided the key forensic evidence in the Lawrence case…

LGC Website.

Thanks to painstaking, meticulous scientific work, LGC, the UK’s largest independent provider of forensic services, helped the Metropolitan Police bring the killers of Stephen Lawrence to justice.
LGC’s approach to the case, combined with its innovation and expertise, led the forensic team to re-examine the entire case. This produced new evidence – including fibres from items of Stephen Lawrence’s clothing that transferred to his attackers’ clothes, and blood fragments found in the packaging in which clothing was kept during the initial investigation. Using technology not available at the time of the original investigation, the team was able to establish that a DNA profile from blood subsequently found on one of the killer’s jackets matched that of Stephen Lawrence.

Steve Allen, Managing Director of LGC Forensics said:
“I’m extremely proud of the work that LGC’s forensic scientists did on this case. Persistence, meticulous science and innovation can help convict criminals years after they committed the crime. This case shows that the key to successful forensics is to assume nothing – which is all the more important in historic cases like the murder of Stephen Lawrence. In this case, as well as in the murders of Damilola Taylor and Rachel Nickell, LGC has an extraordinary record of success – largely because we look for evidence that may not have been the object of the original search. We keep an open mind at all times.”

Well, strikes me that the only place they weren’t keeping an open mind was that their “found” evidence might just have been contaminated, because as I said, the place they found it was on an item neither of the accused were known to have been wearing at the time.

No, I’m not saying it was contaminated, though there was some doubt in the trial over the police care of the evidence and a split bag containing the item found to have the sample which had been kept with items from Lawrence himself.

However, I rather suspect this case will also be thrown into the appeal by Gary Dobson and David Norris.

I wonder to what lengths the Lawrence industry will go too if my suspicions are confirmed and Gary Dobson and David Norris are freed on appeal, after all, the law on double jeopardy has been revoked, so they are technically free to try again…

And again.

5 comments for “Getting it wrong

  1. March 11, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Very interesting. Very interesting indeed…

  2. PJH
    March 11, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Meanwhile, at a meeting on Friday morning, the family of Stephen Lawrence were told by Scotland Yard that police were confident the blunder would not affect their case. Forensic work by LGC was crucial to the conviction in January of two men for the murder after 18 years.

    The Yard believes that because defence claims of contamination were anticipated before the trial, LGC scientists double and triple-checked their procedures.

    • March 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      “GMP Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said when the man was arrested he was “absolutely adamant that he had never been to Manchester so that gave us some concern”.

      Mr Heywood added: “We went back to the supplier who was absolutely adamant that this was not the case so we charged the man with Crown Prosecution Service support.

      “This week we were contacted by the supplier who said unfortunately the sample was contaminated.”
      A statement from LGC Forensics said: “LGC has already identified the cause of this contamination and has taken steps to ensure that it cannot happen again.

      “Our procedure for tracking, identifying and reporting potential contamination will be immediately reviewed and updated.”

      The firm declined to reveal the circumstances surrounding the mistake.”

      Seems they wont admit to making a mistake initially, however when they do, they wont say how the mistake was made. Also, the contamination did not happen at LGC, it was reputed to happen when in police storage.

  3. john in cheshire
    March 12, 2012 at 8:47 am

    To me the Lawrence murder case is no longer about justice, it’s about persecution and if they will do it once, those who have the power will do it again.

  4. March 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Phew – hard to know what to think, eh?

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