The West

No fingerprints found in Rayney blood, court told
Acting Senior Sgt Peter Broekmeulen leaves the District Court after giving evidence. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

Update: 3.25pm No fingerprints were found in the blood on Corryn Rayney's body, her husband's murder trial was told today, but the court will have to wait a little longer to hear from the man who allegedly tapped Mrs Rayney's phone after he failed to appear as a witness.

Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Broekmeulen told Lloyd Rayney’s trial there was blood on Mrs Rayney’s body when he examined her in the State Mortuary on August 17, 2007, one day after she was exhumed from her King’s Park grave.

But he said no fingerprints were recovered and he could not remember where specifically on Mrs Rayney’s body he had observed blood.

Under cross-examination he said the blood was consistent with having been caused by decomposition, as opposed to an open wound.

The court has previously heard no signs of blood or blood having been cleaned up was found inside or outside the Rayneys' home.

“I used oblique lighting technique to attempt to identify visually if there was any ridge detail in any blood,” he said. “Ridge detail is another term that is given by people in my field to reference the term fingerprint.

“We have a piece of equipment called the polylight, which is a variable light source and it’s a different wave length of light that is emitted from this source. That is placed at an oblique angle to a surface, in this case the skin... and we vary that level and that will demonstrate things that may or may not be visible to the naked eye.”

Asked if he observed any fingerprints he said: “No I did not.”

Acting Snr Sgt Broekmeulen also gave evidence about the condition of Mrs Rayney’s body, saying there was a “certain level of decomposition on the body”. “The face area was of a heavier nature than some of the rest of the body that had been clothed… there was a certain amount of degradation of the skin surface,” he said.

The court also heard from Acting Inspector Alexander Wells, one of the police officers who was present at the exhumation of Mrs Rayney’s body on August 16, 2007.

He took photos on the day, which included an image of what Prosecutor John Agius described as the “freshly broken tip of a branch and fibres caught in that break”.

Acting Insp told the court today Mrs Rayney was “lifted out of the grave… by a number of people.”

Sergeant Natasha Rogers, a police officer attached to the special crime squad, also appeared as a witness.

Sgt Rogers gave evidence that a hemastix presumptive test - used to test for blood – returned a positive reaction from inside the Rayneys’ garage. However, an analysis of the swab showed it was not blood and the court heard the hemastix test could also react to household bleach, rust and other materials.

"A hemastix is a presumptive test for blood so it is highly sensitive but not specific for blood," she said. "I would say that's a positive reaction because the end of the test strip has turned a bluey-green colour."

Justice Brian Martin asked Mr Agius if he was being asked to infer that the spot was "an attempt to clean up blood". Mr Agius said no but that the evidence was being presented to rebut defence suggestions no positive swab results were returned.

Mr Martin questioned the value of the evidence, saying it appeared to be "utterly irrelevant".

Mr Agius said tests done on the substance found inside the garage at the Rayney home were only focused on blood, and the results came back negative.

After questioning by Justice Brian Martin, Mr Agius said it was the State's case that Mrs Rayney's injuries would not have resulted in external bleeding and that blood or bodily fluids belonging to Mrs Rayney found on the back seat of her car would have been a result of "purging" from the nostrils or mouth after death.

Sgt Rogers told the court she was actually in Mrs Rayney's grave during the excavation process, in which she used various implements, and during that process she found a handkerchief, about 10cm below where Mrs Rayney's head had been.

The prosecution alleges the handkerchief belonged to the killer and have suggested Mrs Rayney brought it for her husband during a Bali trip months before her death.

Sgt Rogers said she examined Mrs Rayney’s body bag in December 2007 and its content after a contact lens was found in the back of Mrs Rayney’s car. She said police were searching for another contact lens.

Sgt Rogers said a contact lens was not found in the body bag, but instead she and another officer discovered other items of interest, including 2-3kg of sand and an exhibit which she initially labelled a "fruit".

Sgt Rogers confirmed she had made no original or contemporaneous notes about the reason for the body bag examination being the search for a contact lens.

Sgt Rogers said she had been a part of a meeting with the Operation Dargan team after the trial started where about 20 exhibits were listed on a whiteboard that involved "continuity" issues.

She said officers were asked to search for all original paperwork relating to various exhibits to ensure they were all in the one file and in the one format.

Acting Snr Sgt Broekmeulen was called to testify when Timothy Pearson, the man who allegedly helped Mr Rayney bug his wife’s phone in the weeks before her death, failed to appear at court to give evidence as expected.

Mr Pearson has been present on other occasions when he was expected to give evidence but was not called. He was called at 10am today but failed to appear.

The court was briefly adjourned while prosecutors tried to locate Mr Pearson before continuing with other witnesses.

Mr Pearson was allegedly hired by Mr Rayney to set up a listening device in the Rayneys’ Como home in the weeks before Corryn Rayney was killed on August 7, 2007. Mr Agius claimed in his opening address that conversations recorded by Mr Rayney included some in which Mrs Rayney told friends she knew her husband had “slept around” behind her back for years and accepted “shady deals from clients”, including Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.

Earlier, prosecutors said they expected to complete their case within three weeks after reaching agreement with the defence to reduce the number of witnesses.

Mr Agius said the State had whittled down its list of 160 witnesses still to come after talks with Mr Rayney’s defence team.

He said he estimated the prosecution had reduced the time needed to hear its case by about two weeks. “It may be more than that. We also estimate our case should close within three weeks on that basis,” he said.

However, changes to the witness list mean the trial will not sit for the next two days while the prosecution reforms its case.

The trial was initially set down for five months but when it started the prosecution said it hoped that would be closer to two months. It is now in its sixth week.

The West Australian

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