An August memo written to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service senior commanders by a police crime scene technician is raising questions about just how much investigating officers can rely on what’s known as gunshot residue or ‘GSR’ for court evidence.
The 29 August memo was written by former RCIPS Scientific Support Manager Martin Gaule. It was sent to Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Brougham and copied to several other senior officers.
The memo states Mr. Gaule’s “personal view” that GSR evidence should be specifically restricted and that it “cannot safely be used to prove or disprove possession of a firearm where there is no suggestion that the weapon has been recently fired”.
Mr. Gaule writes that the police department, as well as the Crown, might wish to consider the circumstances in which costly GSR analysis is of value to an investigation.
The RCIPS memo was disclosed to local criminal defence attorney Peter Polack by the Crown on 10 October just prior to a court hearing.
“The belated release of a RCIPS forensic report dated 29 August, 2012 on 10 October, 2012 suggests widespread GSR contamination in RCIPS buildings and cars,” Mr. Polack wrote to the Caymanian Compass. “This report will possibly compromise all firearm convictions in which the court relied on GSR evidence in the past several years.”
Contacted about the issue on Friday, RCIPS officials made no response to the issues raised either by Mr. Gaule, Mr. Polack or questions asked by the Compass.
Please see the full story in next week’s editions of the Caymanian Compass….