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Claremont killer trial LIVE: ChemCentre expert reveals mammoth task of wading through thousands of fibres

It will resume at 10am tomorrow.

Justice Stephen Hall.

Justice Stephen Hall.

Ms Barbagallo has said she will need to finish her evidence-in-chief with Mr Powell tomorrow.

Mr Yovich has indicated his cross-examination may take half a day to a day.

The court is seeking to organise late sitting days next week to accommodate the state’s international fibre expert, Dr Ray Palmer, who is appearing from the U.K via video-link due to coronavirus restrictions.

The flagged late days will be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“What else do we have to do … in these times of coronavirus, there are very few options,” Justice Hall has joked, after it was suggested the court sit late on the Friday night.

Former forensic supervisor Robert Hemelaar measuring where tree branches had been ripped off near where Ciara's body was found.

Former forensic supervisor Robert Hemelaar measuring where tree branches had been ripped off near where Ciara’s body was found.

Mr Powell is now going through the testing of fibres from police and state mortuary uniforms.

He said analysis of the items revealed none matched with the critical fibres from this trial.

The garments tested included police dark blue trousers, dark blue pull-over jumpers, caps, blue coveralls, polo shirts, crop jackets, dark blue cargo pants, light blue and blue police overalls, PPE coveralls, face masks, mortuary lab coats, lab sheets, lab towels, lab overalls and dark blue lab scrubs.

Most of the police garments tested came into use after the murders.

Carpet floor fibres from the second floor of The Continental Hotel in 1997 were also tested, and found not to match any of the critical fibres in this case.

Evidence earlier in the trial revealed Ciara placed her jacket on the floor underneath a table at the bar, shortly before her disappearance.

Witnesses said she then wrapped it around her waist as she walked out of the bar to catch a taxi home.

The jacket has never been found.

Mr Powell is now being asked how many vehicle fibres are included in the ChemCentre fibres database.

He has said there were 402 fabric samples from 142 vehicles in the database for car models dated between 1986 and 1996.

The bushland where Jane Rimmer’s body was found, as seen from the road.

The bushland where Jane Rimmer’s body was found, as seen from the road.

Mr Powell is now referencing scientific reports about fibres.

He said one report found more than 70 per cent of fibres transferred to someone’s hair will be lost within the first 12 hours, with a few possibly being retained for a few days.

The most likely reason for the loss of the fibres was movement.

Mr Powell said fibres were more likely to be retained for long periods of time on a deceased person – referring to one case study where significant fibre evidence was recovered from a homicide victim 29 days after their death when their body had been exposed to the elements.

Jane’s body was found 55 days after she vanished, while Ciara’s was found 19 days after last being seen in Claremont. Both women’s bodies were dumped into bushland, and exposed to the elements.

Mr Powell said ‘shedability’ tests were carried out on the Telstra trousers – by rubbing the garment against a white lab coat.

The test found the trousers shed mostly delustered rayon fibres (81%), but dozens of blue polyester fibres were also recovered.

He said no persistance testing was carried out on the trousers.

Telstra-issued work trousers from around the 1990s period.

Telstra-issued work trousers from around the 1990s period.

Court has resumed and Mr Powell has now moved on to explaining the fabric samples taken from the Telstra trousers worn by employees from the mid-90s.

He said the trousers were of a woven construction. The warp (vertical thread) being made from blue polyester and blue delustered fibres, and the weft (horizontal thread) being made from blue polyester and non-delustered rayon fibres.

Mr Powell said the warp threads were typically slightly thicker than the weft and the majority of the fibres in the trousers were blue polyester fibres (66% in the warp and 83% in the weft).

He said there was also a thickness range between the fibres from the trousers, and some dye variance.

He has summarised all the 47 ‘blue polyester 4’ fibres referred to in his evidence corrosponded with fibres from the Telstra trousers, Telstra shorts from the same era, and a ‘Telstra navy’ fabric swatch from the clothing company who custom-made Telstra’s uniforms in the mid-90s.

It will resume at 2.15pm.

Mr Edwards has been taken down to the custody area of the court building. Prior to leaving the courtroom, he has returned his pen to one of the two security guards who sit with him in the dock.

He has continued to take notes for most of the trial, although during some of the more tedious fibre evidence in recent days, he has refrained, mostly resting his head on his hand while listening to Mr Powell.

Mr Powell is now going through where each of the control fibre samples from Mr Edwards’ former work car were taken from.

The court is being shown images of the internal seating and carpet areas of the car where the small sample squares were cut out.

A close up photograph of the seat fabric from Bradley Edwards' former work car.

A close up photograph of the seat fabric from Bradley Edwards’ former work car.

Defence lawyer Paul Yovich.

Defence lawyer Paul Yovich.Credit:AAP

The coronavirus pandemic is never far from the minds of those in court.

The public gallery today has four people spread across around 100 chairs – all detectives.

Defence lawyer Paul Yovich has just sneezed, with Justice Stephen Hall looking at him before commenting, “There’s some hand sanitiser there Mr Yovich”, to which Mr Yovich obliged.

There are several hand sanitiser bottles around the courtroom, and common touch areas such as the court entrance door and lift buttons, are cleaned regularly.

The judge-alone trial is one of the few underway in the District Court of Western Australia, following the temporary suspension of all jury trials.

It will resume at 12.10pm.

Ciara Glennon

Ciara Glennon

Ms Barbagallo is now taking Mr Powell through the control exhibits from Jane and Ciara’s home and work environments.

The items were tested to see if any of the critical fibres recovered from their bodies were found in their day-to-day life, prior to their murders.

So far, Mr Powell has gone through hair brushes belonging to the women, which each contained over 100 fibres.

Control fibres from items in Ciara’s parent’s home, including her bedroom, and her office in the city were also collected.

None of the items tested so far have revealed any instance of one of the critical fibres in this trial being found.

The court has previously heard Ciara was at Friday evening after-work drinks with colleagues at her Perth law firm in the hours before she disappeared from Claremont.

Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo has taken Mr Powell through the total number of fibres recovered from the critical fibre exhibits in this trial – revealing the massive forensic operation undertaken to recovered the 98 critical fibres.

They are as follows:

Karrakatta rape victim’s shorts – 301 fibres recovered (including 2 critical)

Jane’s hair mass – 1,150 fibres recovered (including 22 critical)

Ciara’s hair mass exhibits – 581 fibres recovered (including 50 critical)

Ciara’s T-shirt – 324 fibres recovered (including 11 critical)

Holden Commodore – 1,499 fibres recovered (including 13 critical)

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