What is the Worst Thing You've Seen?

It's a question I hear all of the time, as soon as people find out I'm a CSI. 

I love my job, so why wouldn't I want to talk about it?! I love talking about it.

I'll often ask them to tell me about the worse thing they've seen first. It hardly ever compares. So then I think to myself, do they really want to know about the worst thing I've seen?

Most people really wouldn't want to hear about the worse thing I've seen, let alone see it. 

Most of the worst things ultimately involve death. The death of someone's son or daughter, mother or father.

Once you've seen it, you've seen it. There's no unseeing. Not only have I been there and seen it, I've smelt it, I've touched it and moved it. I've taken photographs of it, I've put it in a bag, I've undressed it, I've picked bits up from the other side of the room and pieced them together, taken it out of the boot of a car, from the bottom of a wheelie bin, from the conveyor belt of a recycling centre.

These things don't bother me. I'm not affected by them. It's not because I'm heartless or cold. It's because I don't know these people. This is my job. My career. Someone has to do this and I'm proud that it's me. 

Just because it doesn't affect me, it doesn't mean I don't do these tasks without compassion. I treat every person I deal with, with the utmost respect. Sometimes the things we do appear undignified, which is where I often find myself talking to the person who has passed, making a quick apology for the way we're doing something. 

I'm very rarely alone when I see these things, there will no doubt be at least another CSI or two with me. My colleagues see and smell the same things. We talk about it, whilst we're doing it, in the van on the way to McDonalds afterwards, in the office when we're writing the job up or weeks later when something reminds us of the job. We talk about it together because there's very few people who would want to talk about these things in the detail we do.

So, my question to you: What's the worse thing you've seen?

The Rhythm of My Life

I had to readjust my knee, as I knelt down next to his head, as there was a small pebble on the carpet.

He lay on his back, his left arm out perpendicular to his body. He was wearing a red shirt and black trousers. He only had one shoe on. I hadn't seen the other one yet.

I reached across his chest with my right arm to reach for the knot in the Woolworth's carrier bag around his head. It took me a few minutes to undo it, especially with two pairs of rubber gloves on. I photographed the knot extensively, knots can be very useful evidence. I wanted to keep the bag intact for fingerprints.

I knew I was going to have to take it off eventually, but I wasn't really looking forward to seeing his face. The amount of blood visible through the carrier bag was a very good indication that whatever had happened, wasn't pretty.

I slowly took the bag off, trying to be as careful as possible as I did. 

I concentrated solely on the bag and ensured I recovered it properly before focusing on his face, despite knowing that his face was directly in front of mine.

I put the carrier bag inside an open plastic bag and then sealed that, upright, inside a brown paper bag. This meant that the wet blood wouldn't soak through the paper bag before I had a chance to get it to the drying cabinet back at the station. 

I turned back to face him. I'd seen photographs of him throughout his house and this didn't look like him. I mean, it was him, but it didn't look like him. He had taken a real beating. There were dents and lumps all over his head and face. 

Apart from the offender, I'm the first person to see this gentleman like this. I photographed his face, documenting as many of the injuries as I could. I knew I was taking photographs that no one would want to look at. When he goes for a Post-Mortem, the injuries will be carefully washed and re-photographed, hopefully showing more detail and less gore.

This was a frenzied attack.

I called a colleague for help, this was going to take one person a long time, two people would speed the process up. I've been at work for thirteen hours already. 

The press gathered outside, partly because no one was quite sure what had happened at this point. There was a missing person enquiry for the gentleman involved, but the sudden flurry of activity at his address had attracted every news van for every station. It was a small cul-de-sac. There was barely enough room for my van and the Police car, but now we had the BBC, ITV, Sky and a couple of freelancers all trying to find a space on the pavement outside the neighbour's homes.

This all came about after me and another colleague were asked to attend the address and search for any clues of a disturbance. Officers had already been and couldn't find anything. 

We look for different signs. Our signs are much smaller than an upturned chair or broken window. 

Someone had been cleaning. Cleaning blood. However, they weren't thorough enough.

I left the house and took a breather in the scene tent at the front of the property. We'd erected the tent so that I had somewhere safe to put all of my equipment and exhibits, out of the rain and out of public view. The tent also doubled as a useful spot to take a break. I emptied a 750ml bottle of Evian into me in about thirty seconds. It's hot inside, even more so with a scene suit, overboots, two pairs of gloves and a mask on. 

Whilst I dug around my cases, desperately looking for a Snickers bar I was sure I had left there for emergencies just like this, my colleague arrived.

I abandoned the search for the Snickers, probably because I knew I'd have to share it.

I gave him a run down of what had happened so far and how we came to be where we were. 

He kitted up and then we entered the scene. I gave him a walk-through of the scene so he understood how everything fits together so far. We used the aluminium stepping plates as the floor needed preserving for footwear evidence recovery.

We got to the bathroom and he gasped "Oh shit!" It was a nasty sight, despite him being prepared for it. We see it all the time, but it doesn't mean we don't think it's hideous. 

Sometimes you find yourself just stood next to a deceased person, for what seems like five or six minutes, often next to a colleague, and neither of you say a thing. Just looking, thinking. 

These scene are shocking but it's our job to deal with them. I've seen some of the most horrific things I'll ever see in my life whilst doing this job.

It's a job like no other.

We had a number of forensic exhibits to recover from the gentleman before removing his clothes. It's important that things are done in the right order here as taking clothes off may dislodge a small, yet vital piece of evidence. 

I clipped the gent's fingernails. Always a strange task. When you clip kid's nails, they wriggle and whinge and sometimes you get a bit of flesh. This is much easier, yet a little eerie.

I recovered all of his jewellery, documenting where each piece was and it's condition.

I've never undressed so many people as I have in this job. Thing is, they're all dead when I do.

We recovered each item of clothing into separate bags, packing them as I did the Woolie's carrier bag. They'd need to dry in the cabinet when I get back to the station. If I were to seal wet clothing, whether it be blood or water, into a bag and put it into a dry store, it'd degrade very quickly and go mouldy. 

So, there he is, face battered and broken, naked and cold. Now we have to zip him up inside a black plastic bag. 

The black bags are new. The handles are stronger than the previous ones. I find them easier to use. Sometimes it'd be difficult to get anyone over six foot into the white ones. I sometimes have to resort to laying them diagonally in the bag to get the zip to shut. 

I finished by photographing the serial number of the tag on the bag when we zipped tied the zipper closed. 


We wait what seems an eternity for the on call undertaker to arrive, but in reality it was only forty minutes. We help the undertaker get the gent out of the house and into the van. 

I sign out of the log book at 0213. I've been at work for 19 hours and 13 minutes. 

I jump into my van and open the glove box for the sat nav. The snickers falls into the footwell. Bonus.

Back in at 0700 for a briefing with the investigation team.


I'd been out in the van no longer than twenty minutes, I was on my way to deliver an urgent statement to CID for a court case this week.

My radio went, I almost missed it as I was singing along to 'Millennium' by Robbie Williams.

It was a really sunny and warm day and I was happy.

"CSI Guy, go ahead, over"

"CSI Guy, we've got an unexplained death for you, if you'd be so kind"

I took the address down. I could get the rest when I arrive at the scene. Officers are still there, waiting for me to arrive.

Whilst I drive towards the scene, I'm going through my plan of action in my head. I don't know a lot about the scene yet but I do know what is required of me at these type of scenes. There's some things that I will always have to do.

I don't need to check the kit in the back of my van, it's always topped up if I'm using it. I'll need stepping plates, scene suits, two body bags and my camera as a bare minimum.

I arrive at the scene and I'm met by a familiar face. The PC who responded to the job was the same Officer I met at a suicide last week.

"Hello CSI Guy" She said. "It's a shame that death brings us together!"

It's true. I've only seen this Officer twice, ever, and in fact I've not seen her since. We cover such a vast area, on shifts, that I could go months without matching up to the same response team again.

We stood at the back of my van, at the end of the driveway to the house where the scene was. The sun was beating down on us. It was really warm. I wasn't looking forward to putting a scene suit and mask on.

She gave me the run down of what had occurred. She was holding a tissue in her right hand. Turns out they were on their way back from KFC with hot food when they were asked to attend. She wanted to eat, but before she could get a chance to ask if anyone else could attend, her colleague accepted the job. She rolled her eyes when she told me this. Her KFC was sat on the dashboard of their response car. At least it'll stay warm, I thought.

I could smell 'that' smell from the front garden. Her colleague told me that I'd need to spray something in my mask, as the smell was unbearable. "I'm used to it" I told him.

Truth is, you do get used to the smell. It's instantly recognisable. There's nothing quite like it. People relate certain smells to memories, and the smell of death always reminds me of pickled onion Monster Munch.

This is what I know before going in: The sole occupant of the address is a middle aged white male. He's an alcoholic. He has a dog. He doesn't have any family nearby. His friends visit from time to time, but only when he's been paid his benefits and he has alcohol in. What are friends for if they can't share your alcohol? 

The Officers have entered, realised he's deceased, rescued his dog and left. The male was last seen around a week ago when he was walking his dog by an elderly neighbour, Doreen. "He always asks if there's anything I need from the Co-op, he's ever so polite" she says.

Those with less, tend to give more.

He had a Doctor's appointment four days ago, but he never arrived. Not something that would set alarm bells ringing though.

I suited up, put my camera strap over my neck and started to take photos of the lead up to the house.

The front door has ben obliterated by an Officer who's just passed his method of entry course. He did do the fabulous task of noting what position the locks were in and noted that the keys were in the back of the door before he commenced. Job well done.

When I got to the front door, I put my mask on, partly due to the smell, but mainly to avoid me contaminating the scene with my DNA should this be a suspicious death. The quicker my nose gets use to that smell, the better it'll be.

I'll only really notice it if I leave the scene and come back in.

The property was a two bedroom, ground floor maisonette. The door was wooden framed with two fixed pane fire glass windows, one in the upper and one in the lower section. The wood was painted blue, but I could see flakes of red paint underneath. It was painted poorly.

I took photos of everything I saw, most things will be covered by at least two photos. I make sure I record everything, as it's not uncommon for something that first appears irrelevant and meaningless to become the most important thing someone wants to know six months later.

I get the not so gentle aroma of death, mixed with a hint of stale beer, dog faeces and the smell of an unclean home.

The first bedroom had a badly stained mattress on the floor, no bedding except one yellow tinged pillow. There were some empty supermarket home brand lager cans on the floor. The spare bedroom you think? No, this is the master bedroom. There's a bottle of urine in the corner, so I guess it's en-suite.

I pass the bathroom, it's got the obligatory unflushed toilet with something growing out of it.

Three, two, one, I hold my breath, go in, photograph the bathroom from two angles and depart, closing my eyes as I take a 'fresh' intake of air.

I push the door open to the kitchen and it's as expected, a mess.

There's dishes piled high. Some have rotten food on, some have been used as ash trays. I can see a collection of what appear to be toe nails in a small drinking glass. There's a black bin liner on the worktop by the window, I think the sink is underneath that.

There's a Co-op bag on top of a pile of old leaflets on the table. Inside is a four pack of Fosters lager, with one missing, the plastic ring is stretched as if one has been removed. There are two tins of Pedigree jelly dog food and a receipt for all of said items. It's dated a week ago, just after Doreen last saw him.

The living room is where I'll get the money shot.

The male is laying on his back. He's got a brown leather jacket on, open at the front, a polo shirt with a hooped pattern underneath. He's wearing black blue denim jeans with no buttons on the front, an ill-fitting belt is holding the jeans up. He's wearing black shoes.

He's decomposed quite badly. His skin has turned a really dark colour, somewhere between purple and black. His stomach is distended, it looks ready to burst. I lifted his polo shirt up slightly, I can see the skin is starting to slip off. I need to be really careful when I try to move him that I don't pull the skin off.

Something's not right here. The male's left hand is open and by his side. There's a can of Fosters lager open and on the floor less than a foot from his hand.

But where is his right hand? I can see that it's not tucked underneath him nor is it in his pocket.

It's not there. His hand is not there. He has no hand.

I lift up his right arm by lifting the jacket sleeve, all I can see is his forearm with a small section of his Ulnar or Radius protruding.

The section that is protruding is clean. No gunk, no skin, no fat, no blood stains, nothing. Just clean bone.

Well, this is new.

As I look around, I realise that there are small pieces of bones on the sofa, the window ledge and by the back patio door.

They look like pieces of the hand and fingers. All completely clean.

I know that the only forced entry is by Police Officers. This property is secured from the inside.

There's only two suspects for this. The first one is laying on the floor in front of me. He hasn't put his finger bones all over the room.

The other suspect has gone, he's been allowed to leave the scene by Officers. In fact, Officer's arranged for transport for him.

The dog.

It looks like the dog got so hungry, and couldn't find anything else to eat, that he's decide to eat part of his best friend.

Apparently, a dog will start to lick exposed flesh in an attempt to rouse it's owner. If the owner is dead, that's clearly not going to happen. The smell and lack of reaction tells the dog that you're dead. The next level from licking is biting and it goes from there.

I've read about a case where a dog has decapitated it's owner. the face and head is a favourite, apparently. It's animal instinct.

I picked up all of the pieces of bones I could find and with the absence of any other physical injuries, this was a natural death with an unfortunate subsequent event.

It's likely that the dog will probably pass the bones I'm missing. Someone's going to have to arrange to collect those.

I put the male into a body bag and zip him up, with the assistance of the undertaker.

When I get outside, I'm dripping with sweat. It's still really hot. I take my kit off, leaving my gloves until last and I put it all inside a large plastic bag for the biohazard bin back at the nick.

I sign out of the scene log with the Officers and I can't help but smirk to myself when I see the motto on the side of the KFC box on the Police car dashboard.

A Day at a Murder Scene

I saw my work van on the BBC News at the scene of a murder.  My immediate reaction was that I hope the van was still tidy and well stocked. If I use someone else's van, I'll always return it as I found it- sadly, not everyone has the same qualities.

I turned into work expecting to spend the day either at the scene or at a Post Mortem, I knew this job was well underway.

A colleague was waiting for me when I got to the office. We were going straight to the scene, in his van. 

'Your van is at the scene, CSI Guy'

'I know..' I replied. Turns out my van was in pretty much every photo and video shot taken by the press that day, everyone had seen my van. 

I put a large flask of hot water together to take with us, We were going to be there all day,  food and drink is often overlooked, it shouldn't be but it's the way it is on high profile jobs. It's not unusual to go to a scene for ten or twelve hours with only a mars bar and a bottle of water to keep you going.

This murder had hit the front pages of every paper. It was 'breaking' news on every TV channel- we were under the spotlight.

Thankfully, there was a Police campervan at the scene, this gave us somewhere to change in and out of our white suits. When I say campervan, think more Sooty and Sweep rather than a Winnebago.

I walked in the scene via the side door. The front door was likely to have been a point of entry or egress by the offender and we wanted to ensure we didn't disturb any evidence that may be present. I stood inside the door as I lay stepping plates ahead of me, the kitchen floor was linoleum and the hallway floor was laminate. These surfaces would need to be examined for footwear evidence, but not yet. There was a lot of work to be done before we got to that stage.

The victim had been murdered in the bedroom on the third floor. Despite this, the smell was clearly evident throughout the house. Death, mixed with the rusty smell of blood. The victim had already been taken away by us, late the night before, but the smell gets worse as each day goes on. The longer we spend in the property, the more we get use to the smell. You often think you've got something from the scene on you or your clothes when you get home, the smell lingers in your nostrils, it's not on your clothes. 

I'd been tasked with collecting certain items of interest from the room where the murder took place. I play the game of step on a plate, lay a plate for twenty plates. I got to the stairs and there was carpet. The CSM had decided that the carpet had been checked for footwear evidence and it's clear. I don't need plates here. I've got my footwear protectors on anyway.

I make it up to the third floor, the loft room. It's warm up here, and it doesn't help that I've got all of my uniform on as well as a giant, white onesie- I'm sweating. 

The blood is all over the wall beside the bed. There's hair and skull fragments on the floor. Beside the mess? A claw hammer. These aren't coincidences. This is the murder weapon. 

This victim didn't pass peacefully in his sleep, or  pass in a loved one's arms. He didn't pass of old age. This victim died a horrible and violent death, fighting for his life.

He lost.

The blood spatter was on the ceiling, the window, the bedspread, the wardrobe door and all over the wall. The blood spatter tells a story on it's own- the blood on the ceiling and wall were indicative of what we call 'cast off', where blood transfers from a weapon to a surface when it is swung back and forth. 

We'd most likely get a Forensic Scientist who specialises in blood spatter to attend this scene. Their expertise would go a long way to showing a version of events.

These scenes aren't completed in a day, sometimes they aren't even completed in a week. They take as long as they take, everything needs to be done methodically and thoroughly. One mistake could be the difference between catching the offender and not. 

I'm in a white suit, on my knees, in a stranger's house, inches away from flesh, blood, hair and skull. I don't get this close to my pillow. I didn't see the victim, but from looking at this scene, his face would be unrecognisable.

We come and go from the house all day, each time we change our white suits. The bag of rubbish gets bigger and bigger, each box of gloves contains fifty pairs- I'll use two boxes at a murder. 

It's my task to get the claw hammer packaged for transportation to the lab. I photograph the room from each corner, ensuring that there is something in each photo from the last one. Once I have the room covered, I work my way towards to claw hammer. As I get closer to it, I change to my macro lens. I love the level of detail this lens provides. It shows things I can't see with my naked eye. I lay an 'L' shaped scale next to it to provide perspective. 

I carefully turn it over, taking my outer layer of gloves off before picking my camera up again. I don't want anything from the weapon on my camera. Once it's photographed in it's entirety, I secure it in a box. 

I use a cardboard window box. It folds closed with tabs to keep it secure. The top section has a vinyl plastic window. This allows the exhibit to been seen without opening it. 

The next task is to secure the claw hammer inside the box. Easy you'd think? Wrong. I need to decide where to place sterile cable ties around the hammer to secure it to a card insert in the box. I don't want to put the ties where they could destroy or disrupt DNA or fingerprint evidence. I use only two. One at each end to hold it in place. It's likely this will hand delivered wherever it goes, due to it's great importance. I tape every edge of the box with brown tape. Taping the edges provides the exhibit with some integrity. The tape also prevents anything getting in or out of the box.

All in all, we spent eleven days in this scene. The offender was apprehended and convicted for murder. Our work is one part of a giant jigsaw. We provided a vast amount of information and intelligence from the scene that allowed the Detectives to develop the investigation further.

Now, where's that Mars bar. I deserve it.

There's Been a Murder

Its not Cracker. Robbie Coltrane is nowhere to be seen.

I work in a very busy force area. We have a large number of Murders compared to many other forces.

I've been in service with this force for four years. In this time, I've attended more Murder scenes than some CSIs in other forces will in their entire career.

I've seen some things that are truly horrific and I've seen things I never thought one human could do to another.

Don't get me wrong, we don't have a Murder every day, not yet, although sometimes it feels like it. Most of our time we visit volume crime scenes, we visit dozens of houses a day for burglaries.

Some Murder scenes I've worked on have been high profile, in the news for days and days. Some never even make the local rag. I've seen myself on most of the major News channels- I know it's me, you don't. I look like every other person in a hooded white suit!

I remember all of the murder scenes, I especially remember the people. When you see someone in such horrendous circumstances, you don't tend to forget them.

I remember the first time I saw brain and skull pieces on the floor, as small as confetti. I wondered what it was, now I recognise it instantly.

The smell is unforgettable. Strangely, you get very used to it. I'll never eat pickled onion Monster Munch again.

Murder scenes are ultimately what we train for. There's not many other crimes that will need more attention than a Murder scene.

The jobs come to light in many ways. People report not seeing their neighbour for a few days, the milk bottles are stacking up. Someone calls us after hearing a disturbance. Someone calls an ambulance after bashing someone's head in. They call us.

Whichever way it's reported, the initial attending Officers will secure and preserve the scene. A cordon is raised and no one else enters the scene. A log book is then kept and everyone who needs access to the scene has to give their name and it's recorded.

By the time this has happened and we're notified, it could be another hour before we arrive. There's usually some press interest, depending on the time of day.

We'll often speak with CID before attending. There will be a team of Detectives assigned to the incident too. The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) will often have a briefing with the Crime Scene Manager and devise an initial plan of action.

We don our white suits, two pairs of gloves, a mask and footwear protectors. This usually gets the press interested, you know straight away that we're not here for a car break.

If required, we'll lay stepping plates. Small, metal, square plates, raised slightly off the ground which allow us to walk through a scene without disturbing any footwear evidence.

Someone is nominated to record the scene with a video camera as well as a digital camera. I hate hearing my voice on a camera, it sounds nothing like I think it sounds, but exactly as everyone else hears it. I often volunteer to do the video, the more I do it, I guess the less I'll hate it... Plus this gives me a good chance to have a look around the scene, take it all in and have a good think about it.

One of the priorities, aside identifying the offender(s), is to process the victim, in order to get them transported to a mortuary for a Post Mortem examination - see my post on my first PM here . Depending on the nature of their death, will depend on what we do when processing the victim.

We'll often try to recover trace evidence before moving the victim. We have a supply of sealed kits for recovering various different types of trace evidence. Being sealed and one use, means that they are sterile before we use them. Taking the time to do this before we move the victim minimises the risk of losing any evidence when transporting them to the mortuary. 

We take hair combings, nail scrapings or clippings, swabs from various external parts of the body and sometimes fibre tapings. These minute pieces of evidence could be the difference between linking an offender to a scene or not.

We'll often take nail clippings from victims. Holding a lifeless, often cold hand, whilst clipping their nails over a large sterile white sheet is an odd task. You think clipping a child's fingernail is tricky? Give this a try.

One thing that I'll never get use to doing is undressing the victim. Their clothes provide forensic opportunities and require seizing and individually sealing in appropriate evidence bags. A colleague once seized Crime Scene Investigation pants from a victim. If only they knew.

The victim will almost always leave the scene naked. They will always be inside two 'body' bags. The inner bag is lightweight and thin. The outer bag is heavy duty and are larger than the first. The outer bag has a number of handles manufactured in it to make it easier to carry.

Standby for a post on a specific Murder case I attended.

Fingerprinting a Decomposed Male

It was a particularly slow day at work, unusually so.

It's days like this when I get a chance to catch up on paperwork. Statement requests for upcoming court cases are always dropping into my inbox. I take time and care with my statements, they are detailed and factual. Some colleagues make their statements brief on the belief that they can elaborate when giving evidence at court. I prefer my theory; provide as much information as possible to ensure any questions the prosecution or defence may have are answered in my statement.

I very rarely go to court so my theory seems to work.

I was finishing up on a statement when my radio went off. It was a colleague, they asked if I could assist them at the mortuary.

'Post-Mortem?' I asked.

'N'ah, just fingerprints' he replied.

From time to time, we assist the Coroner in identifying someone who cannot be identified in a traditional way.

My colleague has done this type of job before and knew I would snap at the chance to help, we agreed to meet at the mortuary in an hour's time.

The mortuary was in the City centre, we don't use this one often. Parking is a nightmare, so I found a 'Police' parking bay nearby, I put the CSI sign on the dashboard and got my kit together.

I met my colleague at the entrance and he rang the bell. It didn't look like a mortuary- It was an old Victorian building and was stunning to look at. You could walk by and have no idea that there were fifty or so fridges inside, built for deceased people.

The mortuary technician let us in and seemed to know my colleague. He knows everyone, he's done the job for twenty years.

The place stank, more so than normal. The normal mortuary smells, but there's often a clean smell there somewhere too. Not here.

There's no office, no changing rooms and no where to put my case. I'm very particular about where I put my case, it goes everywhere with me, from murder scenes to burglaries. It's got to be kept clean, and I'm something of a clean freak.

The technician leads us part away along the fridge lined corridor. We stop and he says 'He's in here' and opens up a fridge door at about waist height. He lines a trolley up to the door and pulls the tray out. There's a black body bag on it. He pushes it towards us and says 'All yours lads, give me a shout when you're done.'

He slams the fridge door shut and begins to walk away. I've intimated to my colleague that I don't want to put my case on the floor. The smell was a warning. My colleague asks if there is a table we can borrow.

The technician walks back along the corridor and reappears a few moments later with a trolley. A trolley they use to move deceased people about on. 'This is the best we've got' he says, I can see now why we don't use this mortuary very often.

I lay some green paper towels on the trolley and put my folder on them. That'll have to do for now.

My colleague suggests that we should be able do what we need to do without getting dirty so white suits won't be needed.

He pulls back the zip and that smell hits me, hard. It's a smell that I recognise instantly. It's death. There's no other smell like it, and it's bad. I can normally bear it, but this guy is badly decomposed, I have to wear a mask to feel comfortable.

There are hundreds of maggots. Hundreds.

I take a closer look. His eyes are clouded and have shrunk in their sockets, the skin that remains on his face his saggy, It's hanging from parts of his face. His mouth and nostrils and full of maggots.

They are slow moving as they've been in the freezer and have defrosted in the fridge. They're slowly coming back to life. A single Bluebottle can lay up to 300-2000 eggs in clusters of 30-150. The eggs are often laid on moist areas, which explains why maggots appear in nostrils, eyelids, mouth and genitals as well as open wounds.

I don't know what ethnicity this male is, it's hard to tell as the decomposition has discoloured his skin badly.

His hands are together, tied with string. At first, this set alarm bells ringing, but this appears to be something the mortuary do when storing people.

As a result of his hands being tied together and being placed on his stomach, his hands had sunk into his body. They are surround by fluid. An off brown fluid.

I retrieve a scalpel from my case to cut the string around his hands. That's definitely not going back in my case. His hands need drying before we can print them. My colleague takes hold of a hand and begins to dab the male's fingers with green paper towel, The green paper quickly changes colour to match the fluid it's drying.

There are a number of ways that we can take this male's fingerprints, using various powders and recovery techniques. My colleague suggests that we start with the easiest. I like that idea- I don't want to be in this place any longer than is necessary.

We have small brushes for this very purpose, which are disposable. We used aluminium powder, it's silver and like a very fine dust. It's a flake powder, which means each flake sits on top of the last. It can be applied steadily and built up, it's best to start with too little and keep adding powder. I haven't filled my ally' pot up for twelve months or more- a little goes a long way.

My colleague held the male's wrist.

I put the brush on the edge of the make shift table and grab a some fingerprint tape. This is the same tape we use to recover fingerprints from scenes. I apply it carefully to the male's thumb and pressed it. His hands were cold, his fingertips were wrinkled. By pressing hard, I hoped to get as much detail from between wrinkles.

Whilst doing this I could see that the maggots were becoming more and more lively. As they were warming up they were become more active, almost giving the illusion that the male was actually moving!

We both became very aware that the maggots were spilling everywhere and that maybe we should have worn those suits after all.

I slowly and carefully peeled the tape away from his thumb and stuck the tape on a piece of clear acetate to be photographed later. We repeated this step for each digit, some gave better marks than other, but I was confident we had enough detail to make an identification.

Clearing up our stuff needs to be in a specific order to ensure that dirty things are disposed and anything clean is handled with clean gloves. I'm very careful to ensure this is the case. Sometimes I stop and speak out the order in which I am going to touch things to make sure clean is clean.

Once everything is in an orange bag and away from me I gather my clean items in order to leave. I keep a clean glove on my right hand to carry my case to the van, as soon as its outside the mortuary, I'm scrubbing it!

Deja Vu

I can't speak French, but I know I've seen this before.

I was given the address over the radio. I wrote it down and then copied it onto my Sat Nav.

I like to pride myself on my attention to detail. I have a very good memory, normally for numerical information.

It just didn't regsiter in my mind.

Maybe I hadn't processed the information fully, I was concentrating on getting to the job.

The Sat Nav took me to the start of the street. I drove down it at about 15mph so I could see the numbers. Not many houses have their number visible. It's a guessing game sometimes. If I ever meet the person responsible for numbering some streets, well...

There was the number '27' in red glass, in the centre of a fixed pane window above a large Victorian door.

It's coming back to me now. I've been here before.

I let the control room know that I've arrived and I got my case out of the back of the van. I put a pair of gloves on and walked towards the door.

All the while, I'm looking at the property, trying to figure out why I have been here before. I can't quite put my finger on it.

There were a set of six doorbells on the right hand side of the door frame. There's a red painted step up, from the driveway.

I've got it. I've been here before for a suicide.

Standby, this could be a bit awkward.

I rang the doorbell for number six. That's the flat I went to last time. Top floor.

I was buzzed in and the occupant met me in the stairs.

I held my breath as I heard the occupant walking towards me. I let out a small sigh of relief when I realised that it wasn't the same family as it was when I was here last.

"Hiya Luv" "Come on up" She said.

I followed her to the flat door.

She had been burgled. I was there to examine the scene for evidence.

As far as I'm aware, she had no idea that someone had commited suicide in her flat, only a few months ago.

She walked me through the flat. All of her stuff was there, but it looked just as it did before. There was an atmosphere, but nothing like when I was here before. I created this atmosphere.

She took me to the point of entry, a sash window beside a fire escape in the single bedroom.

As I walk in, I see the very same wardrobe that the twenty-something lad had used to hang himself. The furniture in the room hasn't changed. It's all exactly as it was.

The male had used his belt through the closed wardrobe door. His girlfriend had commited suicide six months earlier.

He left a poem that explained how he felt and why he felt he needed to go. There were two or three atempts that had been screwed up in the bin.

I've said it before, no doubt I'll say it again; It's a sad situation that people think suicide is the only answer.

I examind the scene and retrieved some footwear exhibits. I fingerprinted a jewellery box and had two fingerprints that belonged to the offender.

Job done.