In cases of crimes against the person such as rape, assault or murder, clothing damage analysis or the damage analysis of other items may provide evidence to support or refute a particular alleged sequence of events, in relation to a particular crime. An important part of the investigation of assault cases relates to how the damage to the clothing of those involved occurred.
Microscopic examination of damage to garments can often distinguish between cutting, slashing, stabbing and tearing and recent damage may be distinguished from normal wear and tear. It may also be possible from the nature of the damage to determine the characteristics of the implement that caused the damage and weapons suspected of being involved in a particular incident can be tested, to see if they produce damage similar to that seen on the garment under investigation.
After a night out drinking with a group of male and female acquaintances, one of the females wakes up in hospital after suffering a memory blackout and believes that one of the males in the group may have raped her, while they were left alone together in an alleyway. Witnesses suggest that they saw a male, believed to be the defendant, struggling with a woman and forcibly removing her clothing in that alleyway. The accused man denied rape but admitted to consensual sex with the complainant. He also claimed that she tore her dress earlier in the evening when she caught it on a protruding nail in the toilets of one of the bars they had been drinking in. Vaginal swabs were taken from the complainant but no semen was found on them. The clothing of the complainant was not submitted for forensic examination.
Our forensic experts have many years of experience in analysing damage to clothing and other items to try to ascertain how that damage occurred and what type of implement caused it. They are also experienced in carrying out controlled tests on suspect weapons to see if they could have caused the damage in question. Our forensic scientist can:
Examine the clothing that the complainant was wearing at the time of the alleged rape for any damage
Microscopically examine any damage found to ascertain whether or not it was consistent with tearing caused by forcible removal of that clothing.
If the damage was unlikely to be caused by manual tearing, to suggest how else it may have occurred and to explore the possibility that it could have been caused by a protruding nail as alleged by the defendant.
If the location and nature of the nail can be ascertained to compare the clothing damage with control damage made by a nail of a similar type.
Provide an extensive report addressing all the issues raised by the defence council along with anything else found to be relevant to the defence case.
Appear as an expert witness where they will ensure that the true value of the prosecution’s evidence is explained in a clear and credible manner with other possible interpretations put forward for the benefit of the courts.