Lawyer probes on mistakes at Gareau crime scene

| 22/09/2009

(CNS): A number of weaknesses in the RCIPS’s precise preservation of information with regards to evidence collected at the crime scene of Martin Gareau’s murder were revealed today by defence attorney Anthony Akiwumi, as the murder trial of Jose Carillo-Perez entered its second week. Scenes of Crime (SoC) Officer Ronnie Pollard admitted on the witness stand that detail was not his strong point when Akiwumi highlighted various descrepencies and gaps in the officer’s recording of dates, times and areas where crime scene evidence was actually taken from.

“You’d agree it is an important part of your job as a scene of crime officer  to pay attention to detail?” Akiwumi asked the RCIPS officer, who agreed and acknowledged that a disregard for detail was something of a “liability” in his profession.

The court heard how dates on photographs were recorded incorrectly, how Pollardhad cited the wrong date for one of his trips to the crime scene in his statement, that there was no note of identification on his evidence log and that he had not given an exact location of the socked foot impression that was taken from the crime scene and compared to that of the defendant.

Pollard was also unable to tell the court the exact area from which he had taken a swab sample that allegedly related to the latent fingerprints which were found at the scene, on which the Crown has placed considerable weight in pointing towards what it says is thedefendant’s guilt.

Aside from the problems concerning contradicting time stamps on Pollard’s crime scene pictures, the failure to note the precise place footprints were taken from for comparison, and the crucial detail of exactly where the swab was taken that the prosecution contents proves the defendants fingerprint was made in blood, Pollard also revealed that he had not been told of possible SoC contamination.

Akiwumi asked Pollard if he knew that the first RCIPS officer on the scene, Bill McLaughlin, and Gareau’s cousins, Gilles and Guy Langlois, had all entered the scene on Tuesday 20 May at the time Gareau’s body was discovered without protective clothing, and Pollard said he had no knowledge of that. When questioned, he admitted that it was an important point that he should have been told about because of the risk of crime scene contamination.

It was also revealed that both the defendant, the victim and the foot impressions taken from the scene were a similar size. However, the court then heard that a size 13 footprint had also been discovered at the crime scene but Pollard had not take a picture of that print and it had not been included in the evidence gathering process.

During the day’s proceedings, Akiwumi also raised objections before the judge, Justice Roy Anderson, regarding certain documents and data being presented by the Crown as evidence relating to documentation of the crime scene, as, he stated, the Crown had not proven provenance of the proposed admissions.

During the probing of Pollard, the defence focused heavily on the swabbing of the latent prints and gained agreement from the SoC officer that the prints were faded and faint. Pollard admitted that he had no way of knowing, when he looked at the prints at the scene, how long those prints had been there.

The case continues tomorrow morning at 10:00am and the Crown still has six witnesses to call before resting its case and passing on to the defence, which has stated it will also be calling further witnesses to the court.  

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