A lock of hair was taken from Jane Rimmer during her first post mortem to give to her grieving family, the Claremont serial killings trial has heard, as police witnesses continue to be questioned over their handling of evidence.
DNA and fibre evidence is a crucial part of the prosecution’s case against Bradley Robert Edwards, who denies murdering the 23-year-old Ms Rimmer, Sarah Spiers, 18, and Ciara Glennon, 27, in 1996 and 1997.
The defence argues evidence may have been contaminated.
On Tuesday, police involved in recovering Ms Rimmer’s body from bushland and the two post mortems that followed were quizzed in detail in the Western Australia Supreme Court.
Former homicide squad detective Vicky Young testified she attended them all and performed the role of continuity, taking note of the proceedings from a short distance.
At the Wellard site where Ms Rimmer was found naked and partially covered with vegetation 55 days after she vanished, only one or two forensic officers and forensic pathologist Karin Margolius took a few steps off an unsealed road to examine the scene, Ms Young said.
She was emphatic when questioned by defence counsel during cross examination, insisting she did not enter the crime scene.
“I most definitely at no time entered that bush,” Ms Young said.
She said she also kept her distance at the mortuary, abiding protocol to not step over a yellow line in the theatre room unless invited to do so, and wearing hospital scrubs and wellington boots to prevent contamination.
Ms Young said Dr Margolius handed her a clump of Ms Rimmer’s hair, which she took home, shampooed, wrapped with an elastic band and place in a gift box to give to the childcare worker’s family “out of an act of kindness and compassion”.
Defence counsel did not ask about the lock of hair.
Ms Young also gave grim testimony about Ms Rimmer’s substantially decomposed body, which was missing flesh in the neck area. Some digits were also missing due to animal predation.
The dental records of Ms Spiers, whose body has never been found, were on file and accessed that night but Ms Rimmer’s dentist could not be reached.
She was confirmed as the victim the following day.
“We had two families on hold that night waiting to know if their daughter had been found,” Ms Young said.
The trial also heard from former sergeant Barry Mott, who said there was no written protocol at the time about personal protective equipment, but he wore disposable forensic overalls and gloves at the Wellard scene.
He admitted he may have inadvertently brushed against the body while photographing the site.
Sergeant Mark Harbridge said he held up a light and did not wear gloves but did not touch Ms Rimmer.
He said he wore gloves, a mask and overalls during Ms Rimmer’s post mortems, but said he did not get closer than 40cm to her.
Former detective Robert Kays did line searches around the crime scene and said in his 23 years of policing he never had reason to touch a body.