Forensic Science graduates investigate Bali bombing

Australian Federal Police, General Manager of Forensic Services, Dr James Robertson, with UTS Forensic Science graduate Sarah Benson

UTS Forensic Science graduates have made an outstanding contribution to the forensic aspects of the investigation of the Bali bombing, according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) General Manager of Forensic Services, Dr James Robertson.

While some graduates in the AFP Forensic Services Crime Scene team were involved in the recovery of evidence for the crime scene reconstruction, others in the Chemical Criminalistics team were involved in analysing chemical residues from the scene.

Sarah Benson, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Chemistry (Forensic Science) and was employed by the AFP early in 2000, examines and analyses physical evidence recovered from crime scenes.

"This evidence ranges from paint and glass to accelerant and explosive residues. Before I went to Bali I conducted laboratory analyses for explosive residues on items such as victims' clothing, debris from the scene and samples from suspects' premises," Benson said.

"Then I went on two two-weekly deployments to collect further samples from suspects' premises for explosive residue analysis.

"I conducted preliminary analyses in Bali and sent samples back to Canberra for further analysis, and worked on establishing a database containing all the explosive evidence and results related to the various scenes.

"It was a great professional opportunity for me to be involved in this investigation. However, it was sad to see Bali and the affected families in such a state of devastation.

Director of the Forensic Science program, Associate Professor Claude Roux, says he's delighted to hear that recent graduates are performing with distinction at such a high level in their profession.

"These people have been involved in a major international investigation with extremely sensitive and important political ramifications. The success of such an operation requires professionalism of a high order and maturity beyond their years.

"It is a great credit to them, to our program and to the AFP, who obviously correctly judged these young people to be capable of performing very well under extreme pressure in the field.

"Our partnerships with industry and the profession have been invaluable to our program and also to the AFP, who employ many of our graduates. It's a cost saving for the industry if employers don't have to train their staff for years to reach that level of professional competence.

"These relationships allow us to provide both education at a high academic level which is relevant and at the cutting edge of professional practice," he said.

The AFP General Manager of Forensic Services and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Science, Dr Robertson, and Dr Chris Lennard, who is the AFP's Director of Operations Support Forensic Science, are both involved in the delivery of the UTS Forensic Science program.