Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis observes the autopsy of a man pulled from a river.

A detective inspector once told me that the key thing to remember at a crime scene was to keep your hands in your pockets; the temptation to reach out and touch a murder victim, or a potential murder weapon, could be overwhelming. He had little faith in forensic pathologists. ‘I was at a scene where a dead man lay slumped over a desk,’ he told me. ‘There was a narrow entry wound on the back of his head, and a hole in the victim’s forehead. A Bakelite phone on the desk was shattered into pieces – he had obviously been shot. The pathologist arrived: “Hmm,” he said. “Looks like we’re searching for a stiletto, or maybe a knife.”’

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