National

Sacked scientist at Claremont post mortem

By AAP Newswire

A mortuary technician had difficulty removing one of the most critical pieces of evidence in the Claremont serial killings case from Ciara Glennon's body and did it in the presence of a now discredited forensic biologist, the WA Supreme Court has heard.

Video excerpts from the 27-year-old solicitor's post-mortem were played at Bradley Robert Edwards' trial on Friday but the sensitive material was obscured from the public gallery, where Ms Glennon's father and sister were seated.

Retired mortuary manager Robert Macdermid, who was present at the examinations of Ms Glennon and Jane Rimmer's bodies, said he had no independent memory of them, estimating he had been involved in more than 10,000 post-mortems.

He gave grim testimony about how they were usually conducted, as the handling of evidence in the case continues to be meticulously scrutinised.

Mr Macdermid then confirmed Laurance Webb, a former senior forensic biologist who was sacked from PathWest in 2016 for breaching testing protocols, was present at Ms Glennon's post-mortem.

Mr Macdermid could be heard in the video saying "too hard Laurie" and "I can't get them, Laurie", and explained to the court the scissors he was using to remove the nail from her left thumb were too big.

"But then I went back and had another go of it after that," he told prosecutor Bradley Hollingsworth.

"I think the scissor was too big.

"The nail was cracked."

He confirmed Mr Webb instructed him what sections of the nails he wanted cut and would have taken them later.

Mr Macdermid was asked whether the smaller pair of scissors were clean and and replied: "Yes, I wouldn't put dirty scissors away".

Prosecutors say DNA found on a 17-year-old girl whom Edwards raped at Karrakatta Cemetery in 1995 and on a kimono left behind at a Huntingdale home where he attacked an 18-year-old woman as she slept in 1988 matches DNA found under Ms Glennon's nails.

In her opening address, prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo said forensic scientists had concluded the DNA was 80-100 million times more likely to have come from Edwards than an unknown man unrelated to him.

Ms Glennon fought for her life as she was attacked, almost tearing the nail off her left thumb in the process, and Edwards' DNA was there and also under her middle left fingernail "because he murdered her", Ms Barbagallo said.

On the suggestion of contamination with the DNA sample recovered from the rape victim, she said if that had occurred, it would be expected the woman's DNA would also be present but it was not.

The extract from the rape victim had never come near the samples taken from Ms Glennon's nails "both in time and place within the laboratory", she said.

Edwards, a former Telstra technician and Little Athletics coach, denies murdering Ms Glennon, Ms Rimmer, who was a 23-year-old childcare worker, and 18-year-old secretary Sarah Spiers in 1996 and 1997.

He will be sentenced for the rape and the Huntingdale attack after the trial concludes.