Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bulletin; David Eastman; Australia; Inquiry; The gunshot residue specialist whose testimony played a critical role in Eastman's conviction for the murder of a senior police officer has admitted that he "misled' the original inquest. Reporter Elizabeth Byrne. ABC News.

 STORY: "Eastman Inquiry: Forensic scientist in Winchester case admits he 'misled' original inquest," by reporter Elizabeth Byrne, published by ABC News on March 27, 2014.

GIST: "A key player in the conviction of David Eastman for killing one of Australia's top police officers has admitted forensic evidence he gave to the original inquest was misleading. The Eastman Inquiry is nearing its end after several months of evidence from witnesses involved in the investigation and prosecution of Eastman for the shooting murder of Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester at Deakin. Forensic evidence from Robert Collins Barnes was critical to the case against Eastman......... Mr Barnes linked the scene with Eastman's car telling the original inquest he had found particles of residue in both places which were indistinguishable. He told the inquest the residue particles had come from PMC ammunition. The coroner asked Mr Barnes directly if there was any doubt about the ammunition and he replied that there was not. But yesterday Mr Barnes admitted to the counsel assisting the inquiry, Liesl Chapman, that was too strong a conclusion and he now accepts he had misled the court.........One key issue in the identification of the PMC residue was Mr Barnes description of it being robust and able to keep its shape after firing. But no report on how this is known has been produced, prompting Ms Chapman to challenge Mr Barnes, saying: "All we have is your word for PMC characteristics not changing shape." It also emerged there had been no comparison with propellants which leave similar residue. A photo of the particles shown to the jury at the trial was also viewed, along with a similar photo of partially burnt residue from a PMC firing. Inquiry head Justice Brian Martin noted how pristine the first photo was compared with the second and asked Mr Barnes had he selected the first because it supported his argument. "To the people making the judgment, on the face of it that photo looks designed to bolster your evidence," he asked. Mr Barnes flatly rejected the idea. But he did admit that in hindsight he did not have a proper scientific basis for his evidence at the inquest."

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