Forensic expert examines what blood spray can tell detectives
Medical device adapted for crime tests
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