CSI Norfolk: Why this fingerprint expert gave up working with the dead
PUBLISHED: 07:25 06 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:02 09 April 2019
Forensic expert Diane Ivory worked on some of Britain’s biggest murder cases but now her job no longer gives her nightmares.
Diane had the grisly task of taking finger prints from corpses as well as painstaking work combing crime scenes for evidence such as strands of hair or minute clothes fibres that might just trap a killer.
Now Diane has left her job after 29 years at Scotland Yard and set up her own business based in Wymondham called Forensic Minds, a team building and events company which focuses on crime investigation.
But she will never forget some of the gruesome work trying to unravel many mysteries over how and why someone had died.
“If there was no blood, they may have been poisoned so we would have to examine the stomach contents from the dead body,” said Diane. “Once I had to ID a gentleman who had been found dead in a river wearing only his socks. When the socks were taken off, his skin came away too so I had to take an impression of that. We thought we knew who the man was so at his house we powdered his bathroom floor and found a footprint which matched – it was him.”
Diane also had to work closely if there was blood at the scene of a crime, known in the industry as blood ‘spatter, (not splatter) analysis.
“You can tell the direction of impact, whether the person who was attacked was sitting or standing but I wasn’t an expert in this, we would bring in someone who was, just like with arson. But much of my work was with thefts and burglaries,” she said.
Just like on popular crime television programmes like CSI, Diane would arrive at a scene of a killing which would be taped up, show her badge to get in and then don a complete forensic suit, shoe covers and gloves before collecting evidence.
Now many crimes are solved using DNA evidence but when Diane started it was often by fingerprints matched against a database of those taken every time someone had been arrested. “It took seven years to become a finger print expert in those days,” said Diane. “Everybody’s are unique and every finger is different but there are patterns in loops, arches and whorls and that’s what we look for.
“I’d start with looking at the route someone had taken to get in, was it a forced entry and had they left any fingerprints? Was the person already in the house? You’d be surprised how many criminals do use gloves to get in but then take them off to rifle through a jewellery box.
“I had to try and shut off my emotions but I always thought of every dead person as someone’s daughter or son or husband or wife and I just wanted to do my best for them.”
Diane now works using her knowledge on a much more fun basis, working with schools and colleges as well as businesses on a crime investigation theme.
All this week she has been running sessions at City College Norwich. Stephen Davies, degree apprenticeship development officer, said: “The Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach (neaco) team here ran a week of team working events. I called upon my wide and diverse connections and Diane of Forensic Minds immediately stood out. These type of events are something I am keen to work on in the future as it is vital for employers and young learners to work together.” For more information see www.forensicminds.co.uk