GIST: "A crucial forensic scientist in the Colin Winchester murder case believes police did not mishandle the crime scene, and denies claims he put a hand on top of the dead ACT police chief’s car after the shooting. The Eastman inquiry has begun hearing the much-anticipated evidence of Robert Barnes, a Victorian-based forensic officer whose gunshot residue analysis was damning of David Eastman. The evidence provided a crucial link between particles found in Eastman’s Mazda and Mr Winchester’s car and neighbour’s driveway, where the assistant commissioner was shot dead on January 10, 1989. But the inquiry - ordered after fresh doubt was raised about Eastman’s 1995 conviction - has heard evidence raising questions about the reliability and veracity of Mr Barnes’ work......... The inquiry has already heard from Peter Nelipa, the lead Australian Federal Police forensic officer on the case, who said he had concerns about the disturbance of the crime scene. Those concerns included that more than 80 police officers had been coming in and out of the area. But Mr Barnes said he did not have such fears about the scene. ‘‘I very rapidly formed the opinion that the AFP managed the crime scene very well,’’ Mr Barnes said. Mr Nelipa has also criticised the Victorian forensic officer for placing a hand on top of Mr Winchester’s Ford after the shooting. Mr Nelipa said he had had to smack Mr Barnes’ hand off the car and warn him ‘‘fingerprints’’. Mr Barnes denied on Monday that ever occurred. He said such an action would have been ‘‘completely contrary’’ to his experience during a lifetime of forensic work. ‘‘Absolutely not. I absolutely refute that,’’ he said. ‘‘To put it simply your honour, Mr Nelipa has a flawed memory.’’.........Mr Barnes was also asked about his use of methanol as a solvent during testing of some of the gunshot residue. That created problems because it meant the particles could not be re-examined. Under questioning by Acting Justice Brian Martin, Mr Barnes admitted he had not used methanol as a solvent for partially burnt propellant particles before. But he said it was common practice in other laboratories, and that he had not known new testing instruments would become available down the track."

The entire story can be found at: