The word limit for the exam is 3000 words in total, comprising a maximum of 1500 words per answer.
The word limit includes headings. The word limit does not include footnotes or the bibliography. Note that all text that advances your arguments (i.e. substantive text) should be incorporated into the body of your exam answers, and not hidden in the footnotes. If substantive text is incorporated in your footnotes it will be included in the word count.
You are encouraged to confine your answers to the material covered in this course. That includes the readings, the lectures, the slides, the video material and the case studies, where relevant. There are also further resources referenced on your reading list. If you think any of that material would be of assistance to you in answering your exam, then you are welcome to locate the material and use it.
In summary, you are encouraged to confine your answers the material mentioned above but you are not prohibited from undertaking further research over and above the materials mentioned above. No marks have been allocated for independent research.
Format and referencing
Your referencing should include enough information so that the marker can check all sources. However, you will not be marked on compliance with strict rules of referencing. What this means is that you do not need to worry about things like italics and the placement of commas in references, etc., but you must clearly and adequately identify your sources. In particular,
Direct quotes should marked in quotation marks (‘ ‘), and be given a reference that pinpoints the source and page/paragraph.
When referring to another person’s ideas and/or paraphrasing their words, quote marks are not required, but you should reference the source, providing enough detail to enable the marker to identify it.
Footnotes, or in-text referencing, may be used.
A bibliography, or reference list, is not required.
The exam assesses both students’ knowledge and their analytical skills. Question 1 will be assessed according to the following criteria:
a) How well your answer identifies the relevant legal principles (50%);
b) How well your answer applies those principles to analysing the witness statement
c) Clarity in writing with appropriate spelling, grammar and formatting (10%).
Question 2 will be assessed according to the following criteria:
The exam must be prepared in Word, use a size 12 font and be 1.5 spaced. Headings and sub- headings may be used where appropriate.
a) b) c)
The depth of understanding reflected (60%);
Whether the answer is structured in a logical and well-organised manner (30%(; and Clarity in writing with appropriate spelling, grammar and formatting (10%).
TAKE HOME EXAM QUESTIONS (You must answer BOTH questions.)
Question 1 (You must answer this question).
Below you will find some Background Information about a fictional case scenario followed by a Witness Statement. Read them, and then answer both these questions:
a) How well does the Witness Statement comply with the rules of expert evidence? [Guide only – approximately 1000 words]
b) What tools or presentation techniques do you think would assist a jury to understand the evidence given in the Witness Statement? [Guide only – approximately 500 words]
Case Scenario Background
Police were called to 1/17 Athelston Way at 10:37pm on the thirteenth of October 2016 by Mary Smith, a resident of that address. She advised in the emergency call that her flat mate and her flat mate’s boyfriend had been shot and were critically injured. Police attended to find the bodies of Joan Stephenson and Dennis O’Connor in the unit, and Ashotgun on the floor next to O’Connor’s body. Mary was initially too distressed to speak to police, and was taken to hospital and treated for shock. Meanwhile, police discovered no sign of forced entry, and no evidence of a fourth person at the address.
At the scene, Joan’s body was found at one end of the lounge, with two gunshot wounds, one to the knee and one to the head. Dennis’s body was found slumped near the wall at the other end, with one wound to the head. The gun was found next to Dennis’s body. This was collected by attending police, along with the clothing of Mary Smith.
When Mary was finally interviewed by the police, she stated that she arrived home after a night out to find her flat mate and Dennis arguing, and Dennis had a shotgun in his hand. She explained that the argument escalated, and Dennis shot Joan in the leg. Joan then tried to crawl away, and that is when Dennis fired the fatal shot into the back of her head. Mary then claimed Dennis began ranting and screaming, finally holding the gun to his forehead and shooting himself. Her clothes did have some blood present on the front, which she claimed got on there when she went to Dennis to see if he was still alive.
STATEMENT OF EVIDENCE
RE: Alleged Murder of Joan STEPHENSON and Dennis O’CONNOR at 1/17 Athelston Way, WEST IVANHOE DEFENDANT: Mary SMITH
I, Allanah Joy Davies, am employed by Victoria Police, in the Crime Scene Examination department.
My scientific qualifications are Bachelor of Forensic Science of the University of Technology, Sydney and Master of Forensic Science in Forensic Studies at the Flinders University. I have specialized knowledge based on my training, study and experience.
I acknowledge that:
(i) I have read the Expert Witness Code of Conduct the Victorian Supreme Court Rules; and
(ii) I agree to be bound by the Code.
I attended the abovementioned address for the purpose of crime scene examination on the 14th of October 2016 at 6:30am. I examined the scene methodically, recording my observations and measurements of various areas of blood staining. All measurements and tests were performed at the scene unless otherwise specified.
Three areas of significant staining were present at the address. In the middle of the lounge, an area of staining was present on the wooden flooring (area A). Adjacent to the deceased Joan STEPHENSON was an area of numerous small stains grouped together and one large pooled section (area B). The third main area of staining was found on the wall nearest the other deceased, Dennis O’CONNOR (area C). It consisted of an area of small stains grouped together, along with a few larger stains and some small pieces of pink matter.
At the scene, I performed a presumptive test for blood using HemastixTM one-step test on some of these stains. A presumptive test for blood is one that indicates if the stain or substance could be blood. If the test is negative, it indicates that it is definitely NOT blood, and there is no need for further testing. If the test is positive, it indicates that the substance is probably blood. However, a positive result can also be a false positive which can be a result of chemicals, other body fluids or non-human blood. After I took measurements and photos of the stains mentioned above, I performed a confirmatory test for blood using the Hematrace method. I collected these stains using swabs and distilled water, and then transported them back to the VIC Police laboratory where the test was performed. The Hematrace test is a confirmatory test for blood. This test is more specific than a presumptive test, and ‘confirms’ the presence of human blood. Stains from all the above areas tested produced a positive result for this test. I then examined the areas of staining more closely.
‘Area A’ – This area consisted of one large stain measuring approximately 15 x 9cm. The size and morphology of this stain is consistent with ‘pooling’ of blood. From this stain, in the direction of the body of Joan STEPHENSON were numerous elongated stains. The pattern of this staining was consistent with the jeans being worn by the victim, and supports the defendant’s explanation of the victim after being shot in the knee, staying in that spot for a short period of time and then crawling away, dragging her leg along the ground.
‘Area B’ – This area consisted of numerous small stains, the majority with a diameter
of 1mm or less, and one large pooled stain. Small stains such as these are consistent with ‘high velocity’ impact spatter. This type of spatter is caused by high velocity weapons such as gunshot wounds or arrows. The pooled area appeared to be where the victim, STEPHENSON, had died. This area of staining then is consistent with the defendant’s explanation of STEPHENSON being shot in that location.
‘Area ‘C’ – This area of staining was present on the wall adjacent to where the body of the victim O’CONNOR was found. It consisted of a large area (approximately 50cm x 60cm) of very small stains (<1mm) with defined edges, the centre of which was located approximately 1 metre from the floor. These stains, again, are consistent with ‘high velocity impact spatter’ caused by a gunshot wound as the defendant claims. However, the height at which they were centred is not consistent with the defendant’s statement that O’CONNOR was standing when he shot himself in the head. The location and size are consistent with the victim positioned on his knees and the gunshot wound coming at an angle, from above the victim, as if the person who inflicted the wound was standing. It is not consistent with a self-inflicted wound.
On 14 October, 2016, I received into the laboratory the following item from Senior Constable Bray of Victoria Police:
1. Pink ‘Nike’ t-shirt (from Mary SMITH)
I examined the above item in the laboratory on 15 October, 2016. The pink t-shirt had numerous minute red stains near the waist area. I tested this staining for blood using the Hematrace method as described above, and the result was positive. I then measured these various stains. The large majority of these stains (greater than ninety percent) measured less than or equal to 1mm in diameter, and had very defined edges. As I mentioned previously, staining of this size is consistent with high velocity impact, such as a gunshot. If this staining had transferred to the clothes when the defendant checked to see if O’CONNOR was alive (contact staining), then it would consist of much larger stains, with smeared, undefined edges. In my opinion, the staining on the front of the t-shirt is consistent with a gunshot wound being inflicted adjacent to the clothing.
In conclusion, the staining in areas A and C are consistent with the defendant’s story of O’CONNOR shooting STEPHENSON. However, the examination of the staining in area C indicates that O’CONNOR was kneeling when he was shot and that the shot came at an angle above him, from someone that was standing. The staining examined on the pink ‘Nike’ top worn by the defendant indicates that she was within close range of a gunshot that caused spatter to be projected at her approximate waist level. It is not, as the defendant claims, consistent with ‘contact’ staining.
I certify that all the information in this report is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. All analysis described in this report was performed by myself.
Allanah J. Davies, BSc For. Bio, MS. Dated this day, 9 November, 2016
Question 2. This question is worth 35 marks (You must answer this question.)
CRIME SCENE SCENARIO.
Mr John Bellinger hired the company, Walkers Painting, to paint the lounge room, dining area and study of his home at 23 Wattle Grove, Eltham. Three men employed by the company, John Brown, William White and Neville Walker arrived promptly at 8am on 16 October 2017 and proceeded to cover exposed areas of those rooms in sheets and commence prepping walls ready for painting. Mr Bradford remained upstairs allowing the men free access to the rooms.
At 2pm Mr Bradford went into his study to retrieve an item from a locked drawer in his desk. He found the drawer open and, while his files remained in the drawer, his grandfather’s World War 2 medals were missing.
Mr Bradford confronted the men painting his house and accused them of theft. The men all denied the allegation. The police were called in to investigate. While surveying the property a police officer noticed an area under a flowering bush in the front yard had been disturbed. On closer inspection a piece of material was found buried under the bush. Wrapped inside the material were the missing medals.
In relation to this scenario, identify what type of types of forensic science might be used in the investigation of the case? Your answer should consider the fact or facts that the particular forensic science might assist in establishing, and the extent to which there are any problems or issue that have been identified with its methodology that might affect its usefulness? [Maximum word limit: 1500 words]