Billie-Jo defence tests 'not realistic'

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The Independent Online
AN EXPERIMENT designed to show that Billie-Jo Jenkins' foster father could have been accidentally sprayed by her blood as he tended her dying was "quite unrealistic", a pathologist said yesterday.

Lawyers acting for Sion Jenkins, 40, who is accused of Billie-Jo's murder, are to argue that a blood bubble exhaled by the battered teenager could account for microscopic blood stains found on his clothing.

But Dr Ian Hill told Lewes Crown Court , East Sussex, that the amount of air used in the defence team's simulation was much greater than for a normal adult breathing. It would certainly have exceeded the breathing capacity of the teenager who was fatally wounded and may even have died instantaneously.

Asked whether Billie-Jo could have forcibly expelled and sprayed blood from her nose, Dr Hill said: "In my opinion, it is so remote a possibility it can be discounted."

Billie-Jo was found bludgeoned to death on the patio of her foster family's home in Hastings, East Sussex, in February last year.

Her foster father, Sion Jenkins, a deputy headmaster, is accused of her murder based on around 150 microscopic specks of blood, like aerosol spray, found on his fleece jacket after the attack. He denies the charge. He claimed yesterday that he believed Billie-Jo was still alive and breathing when he found her body.

Dr Ian Hill told the court yesterday that 13-year-old Billie-Jo died after multiple blows to her head. One could have been caused by a punch but most were consistent with being struck with an 18-inch metal tent peg found at the scene.

Bruises to her arm and hands suggested she may have raised them to fend off her attacker.

However, Dr Hill said, the injuries which caused extensive damage to her skull and brain, could have killed her instantaneously. He said: "Someone who was so badly injured would not be able to make vigorous breathing movements during the period of dying."

Dr Hill, who has an OBE and has been a pathologist for more than 20 years, said the cause of death was the head injuries.

Anthony Scrivener QC, defending, said that neurosurgeons who were experts in brain injuries knew of many people who lived despite them. But Dr Hill said that in his experience as a pathologist: "a significant number" of people with injuries to the head died "very, very quickly indeed".

Mr Scrivener suggested that Dr Hill had misunderstood the nature of the defence experiment conducted which was designed to show that small droplets of blood could be produced by someone exhaling through their nose.

Doctor Hill said that if they were going to prove what Billie-Jo could have done when dying, they would have to simulate the conditions of her death.

Adrian Wain, a forensic scientist, then gave evidence on the blood spots found on the clothing of Billie-Jo and Sion Jenkins. He went on to detail the size and number of spots on Sion Jenkins' jacket and trousers and said: "The force of the impact was considerable and the wearer was close to it." The pattern of distribution implied that the attacker was leaning into the body of Billie-Jo while hitting it.

The trial continues.

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