Scene of savage Shoreham knife attack ‘contaminated’ by police and paramedics

The bloodstained Shoreham flat where a woman had her throat slit in a savage attack was ‘contaminated’ by police officers and paramedics.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 4:58 pm
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 5:05 pm
Armed police and paramedics were called to Sussex Wharf in Shoreham on September 4 last year

Liam Hanley, 32, unemployed and of no fixed address, denies attempting to murder his girlfriend Sarah Harries in Sussex Wharf in September last year.

A crime scene investigator told his trial today that officers who went into the flat on the night of the attack had contaminated the scene, a court heard.

His trial at Lewes Crown Court also heard today that both Hanley’s and Miss Harries’ blood was found on a knife recovered at the scene.

Police made sure the scene was secure before paramedics went in to tend to Sarah Harries

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Miss Harries suffered up to 39 stab wounds in what she described as a ‘constant battle’ throughout the apartment.

Bloodstains throughout the flat

A black knife with a bent, stained blade found at the crime scene was shown to the jury this morning, along with graphic photographs that appear to show extensive bloodstains at the flat.

Crime scene investigator Carol Cray told the trial today how she and a colleague put on forensic suits and examined the flat the day after the incident.

She told the court that the front door, carpet, towels, bathroom, and cupboards in the kitchen all appeared to be covered in blood when she arrived.

‘They were keen to find the knife’

Ms Cray said: “We were asked to look for a knife but the flat was quite cluttered.

“They were quite keen to find the knife if it could be found.”

She eventually found the knife under a pair of jeans in the main bedroom.

‘Contaminated’ crime scene

Defence barrister Rebecca Upton asked Ms Cray if she was aware that police officers and paramedics had visited the scene before her, not wearing protective clothing to preserve evidence.

Ms Cray said she had assumed that was the case.

Miss Upton asked her: “If I were to describe the scene as a contaminated scene, that is fair?”

The crime scene investigator replied: “Yes.”

DNA of defendant and victim found on the knife

Forensic scientist Michael Wheelhouse was tasked with testing bloodstains found at the scene, including on the black-handled knife.

He told the court that blood from the tip of the knife was identified as that of Miss Harries. Blood found on the handle matched that of the defendant.

Mr Wheelhouse said the probability of the blood also matching anyone else was ‘one in a billion’.

Questioned by defence barrister Miss Upton, Mr Wheelhouse said that the results of the DNA analysis do not rule out Hanley being injured by the knife, or Miss Harries having held it.

He was also asked if his findings fit with the prosecution and defence arguments, and he replied that they fit with both.

The trial continues.