Foren­sic ex­pert ex­am­ines what blood spray can tell de­tec­tives

Med­i­cal de­vice adapted for crime tests

The Wharf - - News - By Pippa Allen-Kin­ross

A foren­sics ex­pert at the Univer­sity of Green­wich is try­ing in­no­va­tive new ways to un­cover the clues in blood spray pat­terns.

Se­nior lec­turer in Foren­sic Sci­ence, and a for­mer em­ployee of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice, Dr Jen­nifer Guest has adapted a syn­thetic model of syn­thetic skin, fat, mus­cles and veins used in med­i­cal train to recre­ate a sev­ered artery.

Us­ing a car­dio­vas­cu­lar pump, she is able to pump blood through the de­vice’s ar­ti­fi­cial veins in or­der to recre­ate the cir­cum­stances of a crime.

She is cur­rently us­ing syn­thetic blood, but will move on to horse blood and fi­nally trial with do­nated hu­man blood that has ex­pired to check that the de­vice is ac­cu­rate.

Jen said: “I wanted to re­search things like how far some­one could have been from the in­jured per­son and still got blood on them, how far away the blood will go and how much would dif­fer­ent types of cloth­ing af­fect that. I wanted to be able to record the results and an­swer those ques­tions sci­en­tif­i­cally.

“If you have a mur­der case where the bar­ris­ter says the de­fen­dant was one me­tre way and the in­jured per­son was wear­ing a T-shirt, you can set that up in the lab, test the dis­tance and where the blood would travel and check that cor­re­sponds with what is be­ing said.”

Jen said she knew from a young age that she was in­ter­ested in ap­ply­ing her sci­en­tific in­ter­est to help­ing peo­ple. Although both her par­ents worked in the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion, she said she was “scared of work­ing on liv­ing peo­ple. What if I got some­thing wrong?”

She first heard of foren­sics as a child when she saw the tele­vi­sion show In­deli­ble Ev­i­dence, which drama­tised mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tions based on po­lice cases, and knew at once that was all she wanted to do.

Af­ter work­ing on more than 100 cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der, griev­ous bod­ily harm and sex­ual as­sault dur­ing her time at the Met, Jen joined the Univer­sity of Green­wich’s Fac­ulty of Engi­neer­ing and Sci­ence, where she is work­ing along­side masters stu­dent Nathan Lid­stone in de­vel­op­ing new ways to un­der­stand blood­stain pat­terns.

Jen added: “What we would like to do now is get peo­ple to send us sce­nar­ios from in­juries so we can recre­ate them and see if we get the same results. So far, it’s go­ing well. “Blood­stain pat­tern anal­y­sis can tell you so much.

“You can see what’s hap­pened, how many peo­ple were there, what dis­tance they were stand­ing from the in­jured per­son and what po­si­tion the in­jured per­son was in. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing.”

Dr Jen­nifer Guest

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