21 May 2013

Focus on...Crime Scene Investigation - '12 years at a glance'

Victim's burnt out vehicle
Phill Pemble | Crime Scene Investigator


Hope you all had a nice evening yesterday.

I have a few memorable jobs from the last 12 years, too many to go in to fully, but the main ones that stick in my mind are:

Jan 2006 – the murder of a couple at their home in Swale

Footprint in the property
I spent nearly two weeks at the main crime scene piecing together what had happened. It was winter, and freezing cold, but both my colleague and I worked tirelessly and managed to produce a computer generated reconstruction. 

We painstakingly covered every inch of the scene to find fingerprints, shoe-marks and DNA evidence. 

Together with the reconstruction the court and jury were shown what happened on that day. It later secured the conviction of a local man and a jail term of two life sentences.
Footprint in the snow

See part of the reconstruction that showed the jurors how the offender gained access to the property - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fosdWH4wMcI

Feb 2012 – fatal industrial accident

An unmanned fishing boat was recovered near Whitstable, having nearly collided with another vessel. RNLI were tasked with searching the area as were RAF search crews. A body of a man was later recovered from the sea near to where the boat was found. 

As our officers had identified that a second man was supposed to be on-board the vessel I worked with our marine unit to examine the boat in case a crime had been committed while others searched for the missing person. 

This was an unusual crime scene and I learnt a lot from the experience. Unfortunately the second man’s body was later recovered in the Thames Estuary.

February 2006 – Tonbridge robbery

A huge case for Kent Police. If you managed to not catch this on every news channel at the time, a group of offenders wearing latex masks and dressed as police officers kidnapped an employee and his family before gaining access to a cash depot and stealing £53million. This was a serious and organised crime involving kidnapping and live firearms which is not something we usually come across in Kent. 

Although not involved in the main crime scene, I was tasked to
work on several additional ones. I examined cash and bags that had been recovered by our officers following the robbery itself, as well as one of the vehicles used by an offender and a vehicle used to hold the staff member's family. 

Evidence collected included DNA on a cigarette butt found at the bottom of a black bin liner that matched one of our suspects, DNA on ripped up latex masks that also placed two more at a scene, and a mobile phone covered in fingerprints, securing the conviction of three offenders.

Seven people were convicted in total and jailed for 183 years combined. Forensic evidence is always crucial - through thorough searches and detailed scene preservation our findings in this case in particular proved vital, a great success for our team.

July 2010 – methamphetamine production in a residential garage in Whitstable

This again was unusual for Kent and after the find was located, I worked alongside other specialist agencies including the Serious and Organised Crime Agency’s Hazardous Lab team and Kent Fire & Rescue Service to dismantle the production facility. 

Meth ingredients are often toxic and volatile, for example acids, red phosphorous and ammonia, and we all needed to take extreme care to ensure the safety of not only ourselves but the surrounding residents before deeming the area usable again. 

Coming up tomorrow - a day in the life of a CSI. I’ve put together a few blogs to give you a real insight into a typical day.