'Insufficient detail’ to match Sheku Bayoh boots to mark on PC's vest

Witnesses have cast doubt on whether a stamp on the chest of PC Nicole Short occurred during the arrest of Sheku Bayoh in 2015.

Boot mark on PC’s vest had ‘insufficient detail’ to match Sheku Bayoh’s footwear, inquiry told Facebook

There was “insufficient detail” to match Sheku Bayoh’s bootprints to a mark found on a vest worn by a police constable he allegedly stamped on, an inquiry has heard.

Alison Marven, who works at the Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) forensics laboratory, analysed a vest worn by PC Nicole Short on the day of Mr Bayoh’s arrest and death in May 2015.

An inquiry into the circumstances of the 31-year-old’s death, how police handled the aftermath and whether race was a factor is taking place in Edinburgh.

Other police officers have previously told the inquiry they saw Mr Bayoh stamping on PC Short after she fell to the ground during the incident in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

However other witnesses have cast doubt on whether the stamp took place.

A man who watched the arrest from his home said he did not think the stamp could have happened.

Last week, a medical consultant said he would have expected to see more evidence of fractured ribs if this had been the case.

A Scottish Police Federation representative said she saw a mark on the PC’s vest which appeared as if it was “roughly the shape of a shoe”.

On Friday afternoon, Ms Marven was questioned by the inquiry’s senior counsel Angela Grahame QC.

She said she compared the mark on PC Short’s vest to an imprint of “Urban Logic” branded boots worn by Mr Bayoh.

There was only a “partial mark” on the vest, she said, and it was not possible to determine an overall pattern of a footwear mark.

The inquiry was shown notes from her examination, which said: “Marks on the jacket possibly included a triangle.

“Possible that this is one of the elements from the shoes of the deceased but there really is insufficient detail/resolution for any meaningful comparison.”

Asked by Ms Grahame if the marks on the vest matched the imprint of the boots, Ms Marven told the inquiry: “No, we found that there was insufficient detail there for us to orientate the footwear mark from the soles of the shoe with the marks we were finding on there.

“That’s why it was insufficient for a meaningful comparison. We couldn’t orientate it in any way.”

On Friday morning, the inquiry heard from another forensic expert at the SPA who examined the vest.

Laura MacPhie, who works at the SPA’s mark enhancement laboratory, carried out a high-intensity light source examination on it.

Responding to questions from the inquiry’s junior counsel Laura Thomson, Ms MacPhie said she paid particular attention to an “area of discolouration” to the rear of the vest.

Ms MacPhie said: “I gather that what was being asked of as possible footwear was the mark area of discolouration, but I did not see anything of any recordable detail within that.”

She said her colleagues had queried whether the mark might be a partial footwear impression and whether she could enhance it, and that she was aware of the alleged stamp.

She added: “I did not see anything of any relevance or anything that looked like footwear when I carried out my fluorescence exam.”

Earlier on Friday morning, SPA scene examiner Judith Harley gave evidence to the inquiry.

She said she took photographs of PC Short, who is now retired, on May 3 and May 8, 2015. The inquiry was shown photos of PC Short’s face, hands, elbows and knees.

Ms Thomson asked why there were no photographs of PC Short’s torso or back.

Ms Harley said: “I can only assume it was never asked for or requested.”

The inquiry before Lord Bracadale continues.

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