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A forensic investigation will leave nothing unexamined

Member: Nifa

There has been a lot of news recently about how a forensic linguist helped to convict a murderer by identifying tiny differences in his writing habits to that of his victim.

In this case, an experienced forensic linguist revealed how differences in the murderer’s punctuation helped to prove that the texts he sent from his victim’s phone could not have been written by the victim.

David Ryan battered his partner, Diane Lee, to death and then set her property on fire. In a bid to buy time at the crime scene, he used Ms Lee’s mobile to send hoax texts to her clients, telling them to stay away from the property, which she used for work.

However, while the style of the texts was similar to Ms Lee’s own, Ryan made grammatical and spacing errors which were totally uncharacteristic.

For example, he entered two spaces between the end of a sentence and the question mark, whereas Ms Lee would simply put one.

While to the untrained eye, these differences would probably go unnoticed, to a forensic investigator, they would be vital signs that the purported writer was in fact her murderer.

Roger Isaacs, Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “This is very similar to a financial forensic investigation conducted by a forensic accountant, which will pick up on the tiniest anomaly in a bank statement or set of accounts – or indeed in a fraudulent invoice purporting to come from a bona fide supplier.”

Author: Roger Isaacs 16 August 2018

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