Lawrence trial forensic expert admits: 'I made crucial mistake'

Evidence from jacket of defendant was wrongly labelled with a code from a different case

One of the first forensic scientists to investigate the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence was forced to concede yesterday that she had made a crucial error in labelling evidence.

Yvone Turner, who is now a consultant in forensics and a trainer, admitted that practices in the early Nineties were light years away from the procedures she teaches today. Whereas scientists are now expected to wear face masks, hair nets and disposable coats to avoid contamination, she did not even wear gloves.

Earlier in the day the murder trial at the Old Bailey heard that brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt were originally suspects in the case and evidence from their home was placed in the same disused police cell as the current defendants, Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, as well as a fifth person.

Mr Lawrence, 18, was on his way home on 22 April 1993 when he was set upon by a group of racist thugs and stabbed twice. He died in hospital a short while later in what was to become one of the most notorious murders of recent history. Both Mr Dobson and Mr Norris deny murder.

Exhibits officer Detective Constable Robert Crane conceded that evidence from all five people was placed in the same room but said it had been stored in separate evidence bags before being sent to the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory where Ms Turner began examining it. Yesterday the scientist admitted she had made a mistake with tapings from Mr Dobson's grey jacket, mislabelling the evidence with a code from a robbery she was also working on.

The jacket is now a central point of the prosecution case after a review of the investigation in 2007 found a blood spot and flecks on it as well as fibres from Mr Lawrence's clothing on tapings and in the original exhibit bag. The defence is arguing that this was the result of cross contamination over the years.

Conceding that on an evidence sheet on 28 October 1993, she had also written "no tapings" for the jacket, she said: "I wasn't concentrating and I wasn't focused at the stage when I wrote the case number in, but I've clearly got to grips with the case as I've written the correct item number."

She had no idea, she said, when the error was corrected and could not recall when the tapings from the jacket were made between October 1993 and August 1995, when they formed part of a review for a private prosecution, or why there was no note of such an examination.

Under cross examination from Timothy Roberts QC, for Mr Dobson, she admitted it was "highly irregular" that a "careful, methodical" scientist would go through all the procedures required and then forget to make a note.

She admitted to Stephen Batten QC, for Mr Norris, that scientists in the early Nineties it would be "common practice" to put bags containing the victim's clothing in a larger sacks with suspects' items, though it was now no longer considered proper procedure.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness