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The case study – the scene

The case study - the scene
The incident was discovered at approximately 3:30 PM on the 4th of August, 2013, when Mr Alan Dougan was waved down by a man standing at the junction of Ross Loan and the access road to Ross Priory. The man,later identified as Gordon Ward, was clutching his upper left arm and was distraught. Ward said that he and his wife had been driving home after Sunday lunch at Ross Priory on the banks of Loch Lomond. They came upon a car stopped in the middle of the road blocking their way, forcing them to stop. The driver of the car had got out and approached them brandishing a gun. He demanded that they give him their money, watches and jewellery.
When they refused the man had pulled open the passenger door and tried to pull off his wife’s diamond bracelet and grab her handbag. His wife had resisted. The husband said he had got out of the car to go to her aid but the gunman shot him in the arm, and then shot his wife in the head. He then made off with the jewellery, his wallet, and her handbag. Mr Dougan confirmed that there was a woman slumped in the passenger seat, with a bloody wound to her right temple. He obtained the name of the victims (Mr & Mrs Gordon Ward) and then called emergency services on his mobile requesting police and ambulance assistance.
He was instructed to remain at the scene, but not touch anything. Two officers from the nearest police station, Police Constables McBride and Bell, arrived about 20 minutes later. The officers rendered first aid to Mr Ward. They then interviewed Mr Ward and Mr Dougan separately, scrutinised the car, and reported a summary of the scene to headquarters. A Crime Scene Manager and a senior detective were dispatched. In his interview, Mr Ward explained that he and his wife had been at Ross Priory for lunch to celebrate their wedding anniversary and were on their way home.
He gave a description of the hold-up that tallied with the account given by him to Mr Dougan, and which the latter had related to the officers in his interview. The Crime Scene Manager (Christine Watson) and Detective Inspector Frank Morrison were next to arrive and they discussed the scene as it appeared and the accounts given by Mr Ward and Mr Dougan. Paramedics arrived shortly afterwards and expressed concern about Mr Ward’s health. D/I Morrison spoke briefly to Ward as he left for hospital. The officers agreed to treat the incident as a murder, and that the Ward’s car was a key part of the crime scene. They requested further Crime Scene assistance to control and examine the scene.
DI Morrison’s starting hypothesis was that the gunman had driven off with the valuables and the gun. A temporary cordon was created using scene tape erected along the road verge extending 100 metres before and after the place where the shooting had taken place. Despite the fact that this was a busy road it was important to close it to search it effectively. It was also important to record the position of Mrs Ward, and her injuries, before moving either the body or the car, and this was the focus of the next steps. The preliminary examination by Ms Watson revealed a spent cartridge case on Mrs Ward’s lap, trapped by her arm. Seat covers had been fitted to the front seats of the car.
A wet stain of what appeared to be blood was noted on the left side of the backrest of the cover on the driver’s seat. A fine pattern of blood spots could be seen on the arm rest and the fascia. The scene was photographed, starting from the road junction, then a mid-range shot of the car, and finally close-ups of the car from various angles, and the body of Mrs Ward. The pathologist arrived about 45 minutes later, and arranged for the body to be taken to the mortuary. The car was then removed to the crime scene garage using a fully enclosed transporter. A team of four crime scene examiners searched the cordoned-off area but nothing was found.

What we see here is close to what happened in the real-life incident that our case is based on.

It should appear a little chaotic – real crime scenes are like that, and potentially critical decisions have to be made with little or no knowledge of what took place to create the crime scene. We ask you to do two things here: on the basis of what you have seen, write down what you think happened; and reflect on what the video shows as we move on to the presentation of the basic principles of crime scene examination – how were they applied and does the case video convey how important yet complex it is to deal with these?

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Introduction to Forensic Science

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