Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Forensic expert: Semen found in accused’s underpants, swabs of privates

Published:Wednesday | June 29, 2022 | 12:12 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


Dr Judith Mowatt, head of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine (IFSLM), testified on Tuesday that forensic tests and analysis carried out on swabs taken from the vagina of the nine-year-old schoolgirl who was raped, then killed, were found to contain biological fluids.

The forensic science institute head told the Westmoreland Circuit Court that the exhibits, which were submitted by the police to the lab on June 7, 2018, were checked by her on June 14 and that she made notes of her findings on the laboratory worksheet.

Mowatt was testifying in the trial of the 17-year-old teenage boy, who was a 13-year-old at the time of the incident. The teen is accused of rape, buggery, and murder of the nine-year-old schoolgirl, four years ago.

“There was also human blood found in the anal swab,” Mowatt said.

However, when pressed by the prosecution to provide an explanation as to how she was able to determine that the blood found on the swab was human, the senior executive said that the lab arrived at its decision based on the use of a special kit designed to distinguish the species of fluids.

“We found spermatic fluid on Exhibit I – the blue underpants,” said Mowatt of the clothing reportedly belonging to the accused. “No blood was found, but semen were detected and a specialised marker was used to mark the area.”

A medical doctor who testified last week informed the court that a male, of 12 years or thereabouts, was capable of ejaculating the semen and that lacerations seen on the vagina could have been caused by the entry of an erect penis or other similar object.

Last week, High Court judge, Justice Courtney Daye, and a panel of jurors, indicated in a post-mortem report presented in court that the then nine-year-old schoolgirl died of asphyxia from manual strangulation and that she also had lacerations to the vagina and anus.

The prosecution on Monday called two witnesses to the stand, a senior crime-scene detective and a senior forensic scientist, who both gave their accounts of how exhibits belonging to the victim were gathered and safeguarded in preparation for scientific analysis on June 8, 2018.

The prosecution is alleging that on June 5, 2018, the nine-year-old girl was raped, buggered, and killed by the teenager, who lived near to the victim.

The prosecution was also hoping to wrap up its case against the accused on Tuesday.

However, they were forced to abandon that hope because of technical issues caused by poor Internet connection, where the second of two key witnesses was scheduled to take the stand on Tuesday and to give testimony of findings based on scientific analysis.

“My Lord, unfortunately, we seem to be having some problems with Internet issues at our court office here,” Paula Llewellyn, director of public prosecutions, said.

“I gather they are trying to sort it out, but one would not wish to detain the jurors longer than 4 o’clock. I am wondering, my Lord, the need to make up some time by starting court at 9:30 (Wednesday morning), where we can take the last witness for the prosecution from the forensic department.”

Justice Daye agreed to the early start for today’s proceedings.