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.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week