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Witness Statement in the Criminal Case Essay

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Updated: May 27th, 2022

Introduction: Background information

From the information received from Stefano on 20th December 2017, I understated that:

  • Victoria Timotei was found shot dead on the 14th February 2016 at approximately 11 am in the road leading up from Deighton train station.
  • As has been caught on the CCTV, a suspect is male.
  • With no eyewitnesses.
  • It emerged that she was at a restaurant with her work colleague, Suserio Pectrova, at the same night of her death.
  • Suserio Pectrova stated that he was on a date with her in Leeds and they were on good terms, but she left at 10pm.
  • By viewing the CCTV and the statement of the staff at the Leeds restaurant, it could be seen that Mr Pectrova and Ms Victoria Timotei were having an argument after Mr Pectrova had proposed to Ms Victoria Timotei, but she had rejected it.
  • Ms Victoria Timotei’s colleagues said that Mr Pectrova was stalking Ms Victoria Timotei.
  • Mr. Pectrova denied murdering Ms. Victoria, and he stated that they were in a sexual relationship.
  • No ring was found in Ms. Victoria’s possession.

From the additional information received from Esta on 11th January 2018, I understand that:

  • Mr Pectrova said that the last time he had sexual relation with Ms Victoria could have been a week before she was dead.

Author’s examination, interpretation, and conclusion are based on the information received

Purpose

I have requested to review certain forensic evidence, that has been examined by other assistants, and to evaluate the potential for further testing in relation to addressing the following issues:

  1. Does Mr Pectrova have Ms Timotei’s blood on his clothing?
  2. Is there Mr Pectrova’s DNA under her fingernails?
  3. Is Mr Pectrova’s semen present on her intimate swabs (in order to determine whether they had a sexual relationship)?
  4. Are there any firearm discharge residues on Mr Pectrova’s clothing and hand swabs?

I have been provided with the FSS examination notes/statements from a number of experts and items as listed in the appendix to this statement.

Received items

All the items were resaved at the laboratory on 20th February 2017.

Items recovered from Ms Victoria Timotei

Item number Item
FP/01 Fingernail scraping
FP/02 High vaginal swabs
FP/03 Low vaginal swabs
FP/04 External vaginal swabs
FP/05 Internal anal swabs
FP/06 External anal swabs
FP/07 Mouth swab

Items recovered from Mr Suserio Pectrova

Item number Item
PO/1 Long coat
PO/2 Hand swabs
PO/3 Trousers

Reference DNA samples

Item number Item
FP/001 Victoria Timotei’s deep muscle tissue
PO/001 Suserio Pectrova’s buccal swab

I received the copies of documents related to this case. All the documents I have read are provided in the appendix to this statement.

Use of assistants

In undertaking the work on this case, I was assisted by PC Duncan, Dr D Donnelly, and A McPartlin [SOCO]. I took their contributions into account when I was working on this statement. The involvement of other staff is recorded in case notes, available for inspection at the laboratory if required.

I have interpreted the results of these examinations and referred to records in the case file to assist in the preparation of this statement. A full record of the work undertaken in this case is provided in the case notes made at the time of the examination, and these are available for inspection at the laboratory if necessary.

Technical issues

DNA profiling

On a physically contacted area, DNA can be found, which is unique to individuals. In this case, DNA can be obtained from body fluids such as blood and semen, as well as skin cells, from the Fingernail Scraping. Therefore, these DNA samples were analysed to produce DNA profiles, which were then compared with the profiles obtained from the individuals in the case to identify if there is a match. If the DNA profile matched with that of the individuals, the individuals could contribute to the sample tested. If the DNA profile did not match with that of the individuals, certainly, the individuals could not contribute to the sample tested.

Test for firearm discharge residues

The firearm discharge residues consist of chemical materials that can be analyzed by scanning the sample under an electron microscope that identifies the presence of the chemical materials.

Chemical test for blood

Blood test reagents are used to indicate the presence of blood by reacting with a component of blood. If blood is presented, the colour change occurs. Therefore, if a stain looks like blood and the colour change takes place, the stain can be identified as blood.

Chemical test for semen

Reagents are used to indicate the presence of semen by reacting with a chemical component of semen. The confirmation can be done by visual identification of sperm cells under the microscope.

Examination and Results

Results of the examination reported by the forensic science service (FSS)

FSS examination in relation to reference DNA samples from Mr Pectrova (P0/001) and Ms Timotei (FP/001)

DNA of Ms Victoria Timotei was sampled by Dr D Donnelly from the deep muscle tissue for DNA profiling test that was established as a reference DNA sample (FP/001).

DNA of Ms Pectrova was sampled by PC Duncan by buccal swab for DNA profiling test that was established as a reference DNA sample (PO/001).

DNA references from Ms Victoria Timotei and Ms Pectrova were obtained, and they were different from each other.

FSS examination in relation to Mr Pectrova’s clothing (PO/1) and hand swabs (PO/2)

PO/1 – Long coat

In the statement of PC Duncan dated 15th February 2016, he reported that a single speech of firearm discharge residues found on the right sleeve of the long coat. Also, some blood was detected on the left chest pocket of the coat. The blood was further examined by DNA profiling and was found to match Ms Timotei reference DNA sample (FP/001). In my opinion, the blood recovered from the coat could have come from Ms Timotei. As estimated, the probability of obtaining a matching DNA profile, if the DNA did not come from Ms Timotei, is in the order of 1 in a billion. Therefore, if the DNA did not come from Ms Timotei, the DNA profile could match by chance.

PO/2 – Hand swabs

Hand swabs had been taken from Mr Pectrova by SOCO A McPartline, who reported that the firearm discharge residues were present on swabs.

FSS examination in relation to Ms Timotei’s intimate swabs (FP/02, FP/03, FP/04, FP/05 and FP/6), mouth swab (FP/07) and fingernail scrapings (FP/01)

All the items were examined by Dr D Donnelly.

FP/01- fingernail scrapings

The DNA profiling from the DNA found under Ms Timotei’s fingernail (FP/01) was found to match that of Ms Timotei’ DNA reference sample (FP/001).

FP/02 – high vaginal swabs and FP/03 – low vaginal swabs

Semen found in low and high vaginal swabs was designated as UNKNOWN 1. As the DNA profiling of the semen did not match the reference DNA samples of Mr Pectrova (PO/001). Therefore, the semen recovered from swabs could not come from Mr Pectrova.

FP/04 – external vaginal swabs

From the external vaginal swabs, a mixture of 2 males was found, and the reference DNA samples for Ms Timotei (FP/001) and Mr Pectrova (PO/001) did not contribute. However, UNKNOWN 1 contributed and the other sample designated as UNKNOWN 2. Therefore, the semen recovered from swabs could not come from Mr Pectrova.

FP/05 – internal anal swabs and FP/06 – external anal swabs

The DNA profiling from the semen that was found in internal anal swabs matched UNKNOWN 2. From the external anal swabs, a mixture of 2 males was found as the reference DNA samples, but Ms Timotei (FP/001) and Mr Pectrova (PO/001) did not contribute. UNKNOWN 1 contributed and the other sample designated as UNKNOWN 2. Therefore, the semen recovered from swabs could not come from Mr Pectrova.

FP/07 – mouth swab

Semen found in the mouth swab did not match reference DNA samples for Mr Pectrova (PO/001), UNKNOWN1 and UNKNOWN 2. So, it designated as UNKNOWN 3. Therefore, the semen recovered from swabs could not come from Mr Pectrova.

Interpretation

In conducting the forensic strategy, I set out to address the following hypotheses:

H0 (prosecution proposition) – on 14th February 2016 at approximately 11 am, Victoria Timotei was shot dead, and Mr Pectrova was involved in firearm discharge and forceful contact with Victoria Timoti.

H1 (Defence alternative) – Mr Pectrova was not involved in Ms Timotei’s murder, as he was on good terms with her, and they had a sexual relationship.

If the first proposition was true, I would have high expectation of finding firearm discharge residues coming from Suserio Pectrova clothing or hand swab, Victoria Timotei’s blood on Suserio Pectrova, and Suserio Pectrova’s DNA under Victoria Timotei’s nails.

If the second proposition was true, I would have high expectation of finding no firearm discharge residues coming from Suserio Pectrova clothing or hand swab, no Victoria Timotei’s blood on Suserio Pectrova, Suserio Pectrova’s semen in Victoria Timotei, and no Suserio Pectrova’s DNA under Victoria Timotei’s nails.

Did Mr Pectrova have Ms Timotei’s blood on his clothing?

Regarding PC Duncan statement of Mr Pectrova clothing, the blood tested from his left chest pocket of the coat (PO/1) matched the DNA reference sample of Ms Timotei’s. Therefore, it assists in determining whether Mr Pectrova was involved in Ms Timotei’s death.

Is Mr Pectrova’s DNA under Ms Timotei’ finger nails?

No, as the DNA found under fingernails was found to match that of Ms Timotei DNA. Therefore, this does not contribute to determining whether Mr Pectrova’s or any other suspect were involved in a fight with Ms Timotei.

Did Mr Pectrova’s have any sexual contact with Ms Timotei?

According to scientific findings, no sexual relationship was between Mr Pectrova and Ms Timotei. Regarding the FFS examination of Ms Timotei’s intimate swabs, all the semen samples identified from high vaginal swabs, low vaginal swabs, external vaginal swabs, internal anal swabs, external anal swabs, and mouth swab did not match Mr Pectrova’s DNA. As for sexual relations, from the results of the FFS examination of Ms Timotei’s intimate swabs, three different semen samples were found that suggested that Ms Timotei was in sexual relationships with three unknown men. Therefore, this information assists in determining that the Mr Pectrova’s was not in the sexual relationship with Ms Timotei.

Did Mr Pectrova’s clothing and hand swabs have any firearm discharge residues?

GSR was found to be present in the hand swab and on the right sleeve of Mr Pectrova’s long coat. Consequently, the findings indicate that these two items were in contact with the sources of GSR.

Given the above results and findings, I will consider the evidence in the context of the hypotheses provided above.

I understand that the results of the analysis of the long coat (PO/1) and the hand swabs (PO/2) taken from Mr Pectrova that contain GSRs and Ms Timotei’s blood can be used to determine that Mr Pectrova was involved in Ms Timotei’s death. However, this finding helps the prosecution proposition.

The DNA received from Ms Timotei’s fingernail scraping was found not to match the DNA profiling sample of Mr Pectrova. This evidence was addressed in the Defence alternative proposition. Therefore, Mr Pectrova did not come into forceful contact with Ms Timotei.

Regarding the sexual relationship that Mr Pectrova mentioned in his witness statement, the results showed the opposite. As the examination result of Ms Timotei’s intimate swabs illustrated, Mr Pectrova was not in a sexual relationship with Ms Timotei, but other three unknown men were in sexual relationships with her. This information helps the prosecution proposition.

Conclusions

In my opinion, the findings provide:

  1. Strong support of the view that Suserio Pectrova was involved in firearm discharge.
  2. No support that Suserio Pectrova was in a sexual relationship with Ms Timotei.
  3. No support that Mr Pectrova did not come into forceful contact with Ms Timotei.
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