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by The James Hutton Institute
Posted on September 22, 2016

"In addition to being a key resource for food security and human sustainability, soils contain many physical, chemical and biological characteristics which can potentially be of great use to the investigative and reconstructive processes"

Soil isn’t just dirt: it’s the ideal trace material, as it sticks when wet and can be highly distinctive. That’s what Professor Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensic Science at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, said after providing evidence in court in the case built by Wiltshire Police against Christopher Halliwell in a long-running investigation into the abduction and murders of Rebecca Godden in 2002 and Sian O’Callaghan in 2011.

Samples of soil recovered from a roll of tape and a spade found in Halliwell’s garden shed proved decisive in securing the conviction, as Professor Dawson and her team were able to link them to locations connected with the murders. The soil had unusual characteristics and findings showed there was a ‘negligible’ chance of finding such a degree of comparability elsewhere.

Read the full story on The James Hutton Institute news page