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Officer saw seed pods in Rayney s hair, court told
Acting Sergeant Paul Gelmi pictured leaving court after giving evidence in the Rayney murder trial. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Update: 4.10pm A WA chemist has told Lloyd Rayney’s Supreme Court murder trial there was “no significant difference” between paint recovered from the boots Corryn Rayney was wearing when she died and paint outside the Rayneys’ Como home.

Peter Collins, principal chemist at WA’s ChemCentre, examined paint samples recovered from soil on Mrs Rayney’s body and samples taken from bricks and cement at various places outside the Rayneys’ home, where the prosecution alleges she was killed.

Comparing paint fragments found in soil on the toe of one of Mrs Rayney's boots and paint taken from the Rayneys' home Mr Collin said he found "no significant difference", which indicates a match of above 95 per cent.

The court has already heard red paint fragments were found in soil recovered from the boots Mrs Rayney was wearing when she died and from at least one of the liquidambar seed pods recovered from her hair.

Mr Collins’ testimony is relevant because the prosecution claims the matching paint fragments support their allegations Mrs Rayney was killed at her home and her body was likely dragged across her front yard.

The defence has yet to cross-examine Mr Collins but has previously attacked the forensic integrity of the prosecution’s case and the way in which exhibits were handled and sealed by police.

Mr Collins said no two paint samples would ever return a match of 100 per cent.

“Generally if the match is above 95 per cent we could conclude there is no significant difference between samples,” he said.

Earlier the court heard from the police officer in charge of labelling evidence collected from Mrs Rayney’s body, who denied defence accusations he was “seeking to reconstruct” the events of her post-mortem on the stand.

Acting Sergeant Paul Gelmi, exhibits officer on the day of Mrs Rayney’s post-mortem on August 17, 2007, told the court he had an independent recollection of two liquidambar seed pods being removed from Mrs Rayney’s hair.

Acting Sgt Gelmi said he became aware of the pods when the examining doctor "made an announcement that he had found something in the hair of the deceased".

"I later saw him retrieve that something and place it on the table and it was then that I realised (it was) two seed pods," he said.

"The seed pods were tangled in her hair."

Asked if that was something he had witnessed Acting Sgt Gelmi said "yes".

Under cross-examination Acting Sgt Gelmi reiterated his recollection of the day.

"I remember that well,” he said.

Asked by Mr Rayney’s lawyer David Edwardson if he was attempting “without contemporaneous notes” to reconstruct the events of the post-mortem Acting Sgt Gelmi said he “strongly denied” the accusation.

Mr Edwardson also questioned Acting Sgt Gelmi about the way in which exhibits were entered in the exhibits log.

For example he said he could “offer no explanation” for why the body bag was removed from Mrs Rayney’s body at 11.38am on the morning of August 17, 2007 but was not entered into the exhibits log until 2.09pm.

A third seed pod was later recovered from the body bag.

Acting Sgt Gelmi said he recorded the pods as “unknown seed pods” at the time because he did not know what species they were.

Asked if they had held any special significance compared to any other item seized that day, which included tissues and coins retrieved from Mrs Rayney’s jeans pockets, Acting Sgt Gelmi said no. He said he could not recall having treated the pods any differently to other exhibits observed or seized that day.

Mr Rayney’s defence team has questioned how police handled certain exhibits, particularly the seed pods. They have queried how the pods were recovered and why no photos were taken of them while they were still in Mrs Rayney’s hair.

The prosecution alleges the pods became caught in Mrs Rayney’s hair when her body was dragged across the brick-paving outside the Rayneys’ home, where there is a liquidambar tree.

Acting Sgt Gelmi told the court his role on the day of Mrs Rayney’s post-mortem was “to oversee the packaging of any exhibits collected on that day, also to ensure exhibits were packaged in the appropriate container, also to make sure the containers were labelled”.

“I remember items that were collected being labelled, given a number, sealed and then put aside onto a table in the mortuary,” he said.

“During the course of the examination I oversaw or personally packaged all of the exhibits listed on the exhibits log.”

He said exhibits were packaged in either paper bags, plastic bags or yellow-topped containers, which were subsequently sealed by packing tape and evidence tape.

Acting Sgt Gelmi was one of the officers who was present when Mrs Rayney’s body was exhumed from her King’s Park grave on August 16, 2007 - a little over a week after she went missing following a bootscooting class on the night of August 7.

He was also involved in collecting samples of an "apparent oil trail" leading from King’s Park to Kershaw Street in Subiaco, where Mrs Rayney’s abandoned car was found.