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Baden-Clay murder trial: Scratch marks on accused wife killer’s face could be from fingernails, expert says
Scratch marks on the face of accused murderer Gerard Baden-Clay the day after his wife Allison disappeared could be from fingernails, a forensic expert has testified.
Baden-Clay, 43, a former real estate agent, has pleaded not guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to killing his wife on or about April 19, 2012.
The body of the mother of three was found on a creek bank under the Kholo Creek bridge at Anstead in Brisbane’s west, about 10 kilometres from the couple’s Brookfield home.
Dr Margaret Stark, a forensic physician with the New South Wales Police, has told the court that after his wife disappeared, Baden-Clay had two types of injuries that were hours or days old.
She said the larger abrasions were “typical” of fingernail scratches, while the smaller cuts might have been from a razor.
“The quality of photographs were not great, but it could have been possible that they were caused by [Allison’s] nails,” Dr Stark replied.
Baden-Clay has told police he cut himself shaving.
Dr Stark, asked by the prosecution whether the scratches could have been caused by a razor, told the court the injuries were more consistent with fingernail scratches than a shaving incident.
“It would be unlikely to have that width of injury,” she said.
But when asked by defence lawyer Michael Byrne, QC, if she could say the injuries were caused by fingernails, Dr Stark said, “Not 100 per cent.”
“I think it is less likely, but I could not rule this out 100 per cent,” she said.
The quality of photographs were not great, but it could have been possible that they were caused by [Allison’s fingernails].Dr Margaret Stark
Dr Stark said police asked her to look at photographs of the injuries but she never examined Baden-Clay.
She told the court she had not been given any past medical history or medication details.
The court also heard from Dr Candice Beaven, a Kenmore GP, who said Baden-Clay presented with abrasions to his face on April 21.
Dr Beaven told the court that she did not recommended any treatment because the injuries looked superficial.
She said that at least three times the accused explained he had cut himself shaving.
No blood found on razor, forensic scientist says
The jury also heard there were several positive readings for blood at the home of Baden-Clay.
Forensic scientist Carl Streeting told the court he carried out presumptive screenings for blood on several items in April and May 2012.
Senior Constable Streeting said he checked a vacuum cleaner located outside the house, but no blood was found on the brush.
He said he saw a red stain on a towel in the bathroom and it tested positive. There were also positive readings on the sinks and taps, although the policeman said that is not unusual.
A razor blade was examined, but Senior Constable Streeting said it did not get a reaction for the presence of blood.
The court was shown photos of a transfer blood stain found on Allison’s car. Under cross-examination, Senior Constable Streeting said it is not possible to determine how old a blood stain is.
Baden-Clay ‘did not shed tear’ during interview: detective
Senior Constable Cameron Simmons and two colleagues from Queensland Police’s Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) told the court they arrived at the Baden-Clay’s home at Brookfield about two hours after the accused phoned triple-0 on April 20, 2012.
The trio spoke to Baden-Clay for almost two hours, a recording of which was played to the jury.
Just to clarify, I cut myself shaving this morning and everyone is saying it looks suspicious.Gerard Baden-Clay, speaking in police recording
When asked about a cut to his hand, Baden-Clay explained a screwdriver slipped while helping renovate a friend’s house the day before.
Under cross-examination, Senior Constable Simmons disagreed that Baden-Clay got emotional, saying, “He didn’t shed a tear during the interview. I thought he was calm and composed.”
Baden-Clay said he last saw his wife on the couch watching the Footy Show.
“Maybe once every couple of weeks one of us would sleep on the couch – not because of any kind of disagreement,” he said on the recording.
“I got up just after 6:00am, maybe five [minutes] past – she wasn’t here. That is not unusual – she goes for a walk a couple of times a week.
“I guess I started to get concerned because she has a seminar to go to. We own a real estate agency and she is in property management.
“I sent her another message and did try to call her a couple of times. The children were then getting up and they tried to call her a couple of times.”
He said he had to rush to get his three children ready for school and cut himself shaving.
Baden-Clay said Allison had two walking routes – one would take her to an aged care home and the other was around the school.
He told police how his father came straight over to look after the girls while he went out and looked for her.
Baden-Clay said he was not sure if his wife, who had a history of depression, was taking medication.
He said they had not discussed her medication in recent times and he knew that she went off and on the drugs.
Baden-Clay told the police officer about he and Allison visiting a marriage counsellor on the Monday. He said during that session they talked about strategies to rebuild trust.
He also told them how Allison was focused on trying to lose some weight.
The trial continues.
- Former mistress tells of anger over accused wife-killer’s other affairs
- Baden-Clay’s mistress: ‘He said he did not love his wife’
- Neighbour heard screams in the night ‘like someone falling off a cliff’
- Allison ‘seemed happy’ before disappearance, friend tells Brisbane court
- Court shown emotional tapes of police interviews with Allison Baden-Clay’s daughters
- Baden-Clay pleads not guilty to wife Allison’s murder