STORY: "Forensic expert at David Eastman trial was a self-declared police witness," by reporter Christopher Knaus, published by The Canbarra Times on February 20, 2014.

GIST: "The key forensic expert who produced damning evidence against David Harold Eastman was secretly recorded assuring a senior detective he was a ''police witness''. The expert also told the Australian Federal Police they needed to ''put a brake'' on other forensic scientists criticising his work, saying ''we don't want these bastards putting things in writing''. The inquiry into Eastman's conviction for the 1989 murder of ACT police chief Colin Stanley Winchester has heard a covert recording of a phone conversation between a senior detective attached to Operation Peat, Detective Sergeant Thomas McQuillen, and forensic expert Robert Barnes, whose analysis of gunshot residue provided the link between Eastman and the murder scene. They were chatting in January 1994, the year before Eastman's trial, about the findings of three overseas experts who had reviewed Mr Barnes' forensic work. Police had known early in their investigations they would need to have Mr Barnes' work reviewed, but Detective Sergeant McQuillen said the expert was highly resistant to the idea, fearing that it could cause the case to ''collapse''. Two of the overseas reviewers returned reports stating they did not agree with Mr Barnes' conclusions.........The detective never thought it necessary to further look at why the forensic expert was the subject of an internal investigation, but he said Commander Ninness had gone to Victoria over the issue. He said he had been told the investigation into Mr Barnes related only to administrative issues, and would not affect his work on the Winchester case. He also said he did not consider a need for the prosecution to be informed of the investigation of Mr Barnes. It also emerged that Detective Sergeant McQuillen had been warned that Mr Barnes was ''emotionally involved'' in the case, and had made concerning assertions about gunshot propellant."