Sunday, March 07, 2010

Forensic Science MiniTrial 2010

An exciting new version of the MiniTrial materials has been prepared - with a "Forensic Science Module".  It relates to a charge of assault to severe injury and it is now available for "download" free from This is all thanks to Nichola Mortimer, a biology teacher, at St Margaret's School in Edinburgh who enlisted the help of several lawyers as well as forensic scientists from SPSA Forensic Services and from the University of Edinburgh. The pupils in S4 investigated a mock crime-scene which Nichola prepared as part of the school's contribution to National Science and Engineering Week in March. They then examined the items recovered in their lab (with guidance from Nichola and forensic scientists) and prepared an excellent Forensic Science Report which included detailed findings and conclusions relating to fingerprints, blood and DNA. The pupils then gave their evidence as "expert witnessses" as part of a MiniTrial which was run in school - with help from the Faculty of Advocates and others. The pupils played all the major roles in the trial (lawyers for the prosecution, lawyers for the defence, the accused, the complainer, witnesses, jurors, media representatives and court staff) - all with the assistance of real lawyers. S1 and S2 were in the public benches.  As part of their preparations the S4 pupils also visited Edinburgh Sheriff Court - including the cell area - thanks to David Shand, the Sheriff Clerk.  Sarah Wolffe QC acted as the presiding sheriff at the trial - which took place on 1 April 2010.  The Crown were assisted by Isabella Ennis and the defence by Kim Schofield.  Having regard to the whole evidence, including the forensic science material, the verdict of the jury was "Not proven" - by majority.  It was a close call.  Congratulations to all those who took part.  Well done.