Forensic details as Clarke case continues


Photo by Jennifer Gearing (CC BY NC SA)

Perth District Court

Holly Edwards-Smith, Reporter

In 2013 Xavier (52) and Ambrose Clarke (54) were tried for the murder of businessman Peter Davis. In February 2018, the board of appeals overturned that court’s decision  and ordered a re-trial. The re-trial began on Monday March 25, 2019, and is expected to run for three months. The reason for the appeal is yet to be disclosed.

While the trial by jury is a Supreme Court case, it is being held in the District Court building on Hay Street.

On Thursday May 2, approximately six weeks into the trial, there were four witnesses scheduled to be called.

The first witness was Senior Constable Derek Pitcher. He worked on this case back in 2011 and has been a police officer in the Western Australian police for 29 years.

He was asked questions by Head Prosecutor Paul Usher about his involvement with the case and his credentials in presenting facts in court.

Senior Constable Pitcher has previously written and taught evidence comparison for the Australian Federal Police and the Northern Territory police.

He discussed his assistance in collecting shoe prints and his work collecting paint samples from vehicles at the Great Eastern Highway Motor Lodge.

This lodge is where Mr Davis’s son discovered his father’s car the day before the evidence was collected.

Senior Constable Pitcher was then asked about his work collecting shoe prints from two pieces of black plastic. The plastic was recovered from the crime scene, wrapped around Peter Davis’s body.

Senior Constable Pitcher said, in relation to the plastic, that red staining on one piece was “consistent with blood” and helped determine one sheet from the other.

Along with shoe print analysis, Senior Constable Pitcher said he did a congruency analysis of the pieces of plastic to decipher if they were once the same sheet. This involved assessing the colour, texture and size. In this case, all three were congruent so a fracture film examination was conducted to accurately determine if the two sheets were once one.

After lunch, the defence proceeded to cross examine Senior Constable Pitcher. He was asked questions about the accuracy of shoe prints as ‘transient evidence’ and he explained to the jury that transient evidence is evidence that “once deposited has a life span.”

Sergeant of Forensic Crime, Ian William Cornthwaite was called to the stand next. He explained his role in forensically processing Mr Ambrose Clarke. He explained how he photographed, swabbed and analysed materials found on Ambrose in order to preserve any evidence which may assist in the investigation.

The trial continues.