Jacket wearer linked to Lawrence murder, says expert

Murder victim Stephen Lawrence
Image caption Part of the key evidence surrounds fibres from Stephen Lawrence's clothing

There is "extremely persuasive evidence" linking the wearer of a jacket to the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence, a court has heard.

Scientist Roy Green said there was support for the claim that 16 fibres found on Gary Dobson's jacket came from three items of Mr Lawrence's clothing.

The fibres were discovered in a 2007 cold case review.

Mr Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, deny murdering 18-year-old Mr Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.

Mr Green, a scientist from the private company LGC, told the Old Bailey the fibres were found on adhesive tapes used to collect evidence in a previous examination in the 1990s.

Blood match

Fibres were also found in "debris" from bags used to store the evidence over several years.

He said: "In my opinion the combination of blood, DNA and fibres provide extremely persuasive evidence to link the wearer of the grey jacket to the attack itself, or to contact with the perpetrator soon afterwards."

The fibres included two blue acrylic threads which were embedded in a flake of dried blood. The blood was along the contents of a bag which had contained Mr Dobson's jacket.

The blood matched Mr Lawrence's DNA and the threads matched his blue cardigan, the court heard.

Mr Green said that the "simplest explanation" for the presence of fibres on Mr Dobson's jacket "is that the wearer of that jacket was involved in the attack on Stephen Lawrence".

Mr Green said that if Mr Dobson was not involved in the fatal attack, then any transfer of fibres would have to be tertiary - meaning "from the victim to the offender and from the offender to Gary Dobson and from him to the jacket".

He told the court: "In my opinion, tertiary transfer does not provide a creditable explanation for the textile fibre elements found on the jacket."

Contamination claim

Mr Green also said there was some evidence that microscopic clothing fibres were transferred from murder victim Mr Lawrence to Mr Dobson.

The scientist said the forensically "inconclusive" evidence showed fibres from Mr Dobson's woollen cardigan on Mr Lawrence's clothes.

He said the cardigan was made from many colours and so its fibres could have come from different sources.

But he said the findings from this item did suggest the evidence had travelled not just from Mr Lawrence to Mr Dobson, but also the other way around.

"If you find evidence of two-way transfer its a 'done deal'", he told the court.

Tim Roberts, defending Mr Dobson, then cross-examined Mr Green, suggesting that the bloodstained fibre "came from contamination rather than contact" from a nurse's scissors, used to cut off Mr Lawrence's clothes in hospital. The clothes were then put in bags.

The BBC's Tom Symonds said the defence argues there was a lot of blood which got into the bags, and later contaminated the suspects' clothes.

And the defence also argues that cutting the clothes produced a lot of fibres which were "available" to contaminate both suspects' clothes in the same way, our correspondent added.

Court exchange

Mr Green also told the court that most of the fibres found on the jacket from Mr Dobson's home came from a red polo shirt that Mr Lawrence was wearing beneath three other layers of clothing on the night he was killed.

But the defence described this conclusion as "an imagining" and said the fibres had ended up on the jacket after it was seized by police.

Mr Roberts asked: "Who said his red polo shirt was exposed?"

Image caption Gary Dobson and David Norris deny murdering Stephen Lawrence

Mr Green replied: "Who said it wasn't?" to which Mr Roberts responded: "So that's the basis on which you predicate your scientific opinion?"

Mr Green also said that the other fibres found on Mr Dobson's jacket were from Mr Lawrence's trousers and coat, and one found in an evidence bag containing the jacket was encased in a fragment of his blood.

The prosecution alleges Mr Dobson and Mr Norris were part of a group of white youths that shouted a racist remark before forcing Mr Lawrence to the ground and stabbing him twice.

The defence claims forensic evidence, found in the cold case review, resulted from contamination.

The prosecution says tiny amounts of blood, fibres, and hair found on clothes taken from their homes prove their guilt.

Further testing for blood carried out on a cardigan seized from Mr Dobson's house, and jeans, a sweatshirt and another cardigan taken from Mr Norris's home were inconclusive.

The case continues.

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